UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER


A few years ago, I wanted to buy a suit and decided to go outside my regular colours. So, I went to one of the men’s clothes shops we have around. I chose this bright coloured suit and had them adjust its waste to my size. On getting home, my wife saw the suit and protested. She felt that the colour was not right at all. I took the cloth back to the cloth shop. To be fair to the shop owner, I proposed that they should sell the suit for me and afterwards I would come back to pick another one. To my surprise, the shop owner said that I could pick another one without having to wait. When I insisted that they should sell the one that I had returned first, he asked if I thought that the shop would close down just because of one suit. That experience had a powerful impression on me and has made me a loyal customer of the particular clothes shop.

The shop owner was wise enough to put his relationship with the customer over the business transactions. That is one area most business owners make big mistakes in our country. They put money ahead of relationship in relating to their customers. When you want to determine the value of the customer, you don’t calculate based on what the customer can afford to spend at the moment, but on what he or she can afford to spend in about five to ten years. Hence, when you have a customer for ten years, it will pay you better to retain that customer than pursue a new customer. Every year, the potential value of the customer increases remarkably. Think about it, thirteen years ago, when I came into Lagos, my salary was Six Hundred Naira a month. Imagine what I could afford to buy at that time. If I had been a satisfied customer between that time and now, that business will be making much more money from me in later years.

Always remember that the significant purpose of your business is to create and to keep customers. Remember also that there is a law in your relationship with the customer – the customer is always right! When people do not understand this law, they get angry with the customer not realising that they are losing money. You are in business to keep this customer. The customer has the need and has money. When his need is met, you get the money. Always think of how to please your customer better, faster and cheaper than your competition. Understand that there are other people in your line of business, so the customer has a choice.

When you patronise businesses around the country, you will be shocked at the level of rudeness exhibited by people who sell. Sometimes the insult you just because you have the temerity to ask for a bargain. If your customer seems to be wrong, please remember that the customer is always right.

Keep it at the back of your mind also, that customer satisfaction comes from people relating with people. It is not so much about money as it is about how the people are treated. Human beings are emotional. And usually, when they buy product or service, while they try to make a rational decision, their emotions are always involved. Nobody wants to lose his esteem or respect while purchasing anything. Notice that most of the time if a customer wants to complain, it is usually about the emotional aspect of the transaction. Sometimes it is as a result of indifference or rudeness.

A whole lot of the time when a business fails in this area, it is because of the employees. Many employees kill businesses for the business owners in this country. I noticed this in almost every industry. So if you want to protect your business, hire the best people around. Hire people who have a positive attitude towards people and who can treat people well. If you hire the wrong people, the impact on your business can be colossal.

Then, the way you treat your staff is precisely the way they will treat your customers. So, there is a need for you to treat your staff well. In other words, serve your staff. You can expect your team to serve your customers well if you don’t serve your staff. Observing employers here in our country explains why employees treat customers the way they do. Most employers do not respect their staff. Your team cannot give what they don’t have. Treat them well.

You will succeed!

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