Detty December was super fun! I went to a couple of places in Lagos. I had the fun of my life! I cannot wait for December 2020 to come. I want to, however, share one odd experience I had. One evening during the festive season, my friend and I were looking for a good hangout spot (we do that a lot). After searching online, we stumbled on a lounge in Lekki. It looked desirable from the pictures we saw online, plus they just opened. We thought we should try it out. We were looking forward to a great experience. We got there, we were warmly received. We sat down, waiting for a waiter to come and take our order.
Our regret started when we had to wait for about 15 minutes for someone to attend to us. He gave us the menu, we selected our preference. 20 minutes later, the waiter came back with the meal. We noticed that some of the items we ordered were missing. The waiter explained they didn’t have them. Really? You just opened! Why put them on the menu if you do not have them? And why didn’t you come back to tell us before going ahead with the order? At this point, the manager came to find out what happened. We explained. She kept saying “calm down, my job is to make you happy,’’ Really? You want to force your happiness down our throats? The episode was the worst we have ever had. The evening ended as the only unpleasant evening in Detty December. Of course, that was the only time we went there.
When dealing with customers, actions speak louder than words. Let your work, your service speak for you. No matter how attractive your marketing and sales efforts are, what will determine whether customers will stay or not is how well you serve them. Furthermore, whenever your service fails to meet your customers’ expectations (and this will happen to every enterprise), how well you manage the situation will also determine whether they come back or not. The following are things never to say to customers:
Please Manage It
This language is very common amongst Nigerian entrepreneurs who, after providing a shabby service, resort to begging the customer to manage the service or product. You probably have encountered this situation more than once. Begging a customer to accept and manage a product is the worst thing you can do as a business. Setting your bar so low to allow customers to leave unsatisfied is equal to digging your own grave. And these are the two likely outcomes; the business closes down soon or remains unscalable. If you and your customer have agreed on some terms of service, it is your duty to ensure you, at the minimum, meet up. The goal is to make your customers always come back. NEVER TELL THEM TO “PLEASE MANAGE IT.” What makes a business sustainable is not much of customer acquisition but of customer retention. Getting new customers is important; keeping them is much more important (importanter, in Nigerian voice). The only way to achieve that is to ensure you provide excellent customer service.
I Cannot Come And Kill Myself
I once read a story told by Oluyomi Ojo, founder of Printivo.com. He narrated how a customer’s request was delayed and the length the company went to ensure they rectified and satisfied the aggrieved customer. You will find yourself in situations where compromising on excellent customer service becomes the most logical and perhaps the most convenient thing to do. After all, it is just one customer. Please don’t do it. Do not be like entrepreneurs who would say, “I have tried my best, I cannot come and kill myself.’’ No matter how perfect your business operation is, you will sometimes have problems. These problems will sometimes affect what you have promised a customer. If such situations happen, your duty is to do everything possible to still deliver as at when due. Never allow customers to suffer from your internal inadequacies. Do all you can to ensure you keep your promises. In Oluyomi’s article, he narrated what they are to do to satisfy one customer:
“We had switched from being a shiny eCommerce printing business to a proper airport Agbero business, this package must go tonight. With the package in my hand, I was talking to passengers one person after the other with readiness to pay anything to have them add it to their luggage. I had dropped the fancy cloak of a CEO, forgot to even assign the task to anyone on the team, sleeves up, this thing must get to London tomorrow morning.”
The above is a perfect depiction of killing oneself to satisfy a customer. Whenever you have to choose between over-stretching your operational capacity and disappointing a customer, please choose the former.
Whenever you are dealing with an irate customer, never tell them to calm down. You are invariably telling them that they are overreacting. It is the right of customers to get angry whenever they are displeased with your service. It is your job to appease them, calm them down without telling them to. Let them say their minds. If you can’t give them what they want, recommend alternatives. From experience, the angry ones, as long as they are not violent, can be easily managed. They usually end up becoming repeat customers. You should appreciate the fact that they are displeased enough to let you know. The quiet ones will leave and never come back.
Understand this now. The only reason why you are called an entrepreneur or you have a business is because people buy your products or services. Creating an amazing customer experience should, therefore, be a priority. The reason many businesses are unsustainable is usually because of a lack of definitive customer service strategy. Take out time to create one. One which every employee understands and adheres strictly to. I recommend that you, if your operation is still small, handle all customers’ grievances. Let your customers see you in action resolving their complaints. Let them see that you do not take their matters lightly. They will become your marketing representatives. They will become your mouthpiece, recommending you to their circles.
Mariam Haruna is the CEO of Mya Beauty Worqs. She is presently studying International Business Management. You can follow her on Instagram @myasessence.