Of unprincipled business owners and employees


Every customer is valuable to your business.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • As long as your employees are not trained on the art of customer care, your business will surely fail.
  • Every customer, whether one parks a car outside your business or is dropped off by a boda boda, is valuable to your business.

Sometime back, I wrote about how a big number of employers invest lots of money in their company’s infrastructure yet neglect to invest in the most important aspect of their business, the make or break cog in the wheel of their carefully thought-out vision — the employee.

I wrote about how most employees lacked good customer care skills, resulting in a disregard of customers that ends up denying these companies business, gradually dying before they even begin.

The fact is that you can invest in the most sophisticated software in the world and spend millions to lease an upmarket office space whose design and furniture cost you an arm and a leg, but as long as your employees are not trained on the art of customer care, your business will surely fail.

I should have also written about people who shouldn’t own or run a business, yet they do. I have come across a number of such individuals – rude, unwelcoming, wearing a lethargic and disinterested manner that suggests your presence is a bother.

I am always left puzzled, wondering why someone who opens their business early in the morning and closes it late in the evening behaves in a way that repels the very customer their business relies on to thrive. Could it be they are so self-unaware that they are blind to their poor customer care skills?

But I don’t think this is it, because these are the kind of business owners that tend to judge whether you have money to spend from the clothes you’re wearing and the dust, or lack of it, from your shoes. If your clothes don’t look affluent enough, then you’re not worth their attention and they will treat you with disdain.

Their naïve assumption is that plain-looking faces, jewel-less and modestly dressed people who don’t have a car have no money to spend and therefore not worth their time.

I will be blunt — such business owners belong in a back office somewhere where they have no contact with people, where the only socialisation they get to do is with boxes and cans.

Every customer, whether one parks a car outside your business or is dropped off by a boda boda, is valuable to your business, after all, money has got the same value; whether it is in a rich man’s pocket or a poor man’s.

A few days before Christmas, I visited a clothes shop that I had been frequently coming across on social media.

The shop was located within a shopping centre that I regularly visit. When I arrived, the place was locked, but since their phone number was on their social media page, I called. The woman who answered asked me to wait since she won’t be long.

I  pay so much attention to detail, so I asked exactly what time she expected to be back.

Thirty minutes, she said.

Thirty minutes is a life time of waiting, but I was the one in need, so I said; ‘ okay, call me as soon as you get back’.

I crossed the road to a café and ordered tea I didn’t need. It was a few minutes past 1pm. Thirty minutes later, I called and asked whether she was back. No, she told me, but she was on her way.

Exactly how far away was she? I asked.

“Madam, nakuja…” she said, sounding impatient.

I got impatient too and demanded to know how much longer I had to wait.

“Niko kwa jam town, lakini niko na gari…” she informed me.

I almost exploded with disbelief. The town she was talking about is in Nairobi County, I was waiting for her in Kiambu County.

Why couldn’t she have just told me to return later that evening? Or the next day? Why lie that she was nearby when in fact she was at the other side of the world? She had hoped to score a client by lying, but she ended up losing one.

I hang up without a word and returned home. That evening at 4pm, she called me.

“Nimefika… are you still around?”

Really? If you’re wondering, I didn’t return, and have no intention of ever buying from that shop. Good customer service is king, if you don’t have it, you might as well close shop right now. 

The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com


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