Customer is King

Many a time, businesses have committed the ultimate sin, not time from time but literary all the time by mistaking the boss for the guy who sits atop the corporate hierarchy in the company because he calls the shots, and more importantly pays the salaries.
An airtime vendor is on standby for potential customers (Photo by K. Odoobo)
An airtime vendor is on standby for potential customers (Photo by K. Odoobo)

Many a time, businesses have committed the ultimate sin, not time from time but literary all the time by mistaking the boss for the guy who sits atop the corporate hierarchy in the company because he calls the shots, and more importantly pays the salaries.

That is the furthest from the truth as it can get. The boss can afford the chair he sits on or the car he drives in because someone else exists.

That other someone actually calls the shots, pays the salaries, makes everyone’s day and in a good year funds the bonuses.

Everyone in the corporate chain, from the managing director, to the tea boy, the company driver to the storekeeper should thus keep in mind that they are what they are because of this someone.

That is not enough, their career ambitions; the much sought after promotion, the desired additional perk or even record sales turnover can only turn from a figment of imagination into reality if we learn how to treat the boss well.

That boss happens to be the person who walks into your premises to buy a good or service because they saw that poster up and decided to satisfy their curiosity. That boss may decide to like your product and return again and again.

They might even decide to throw your company name into their ignorant chatter in the saloon or the bar. Ad as a result, hand you numerous new fellows paying your business premises a visit not to check your product out because they are already into your product without you doing anything particular, or so you might think.

It should be pretty obvious to anyone by now, assuming you didn’t know anyway, that the customer is really the king.

This age-old adage, customer is king, might appear obvious to everybody, but the devil is really in the details. Many business people do the bid customer care things, but forget the tiny but very important things.

The deal is only sweet while we wait to get our hands of the client’s money and when money changes hands, the client becomes history. We treat an after-sales service as unnecessary cost instead of a valuable tool to increase customer loyalty and repeat business.

We are quick to judge customers by how they dress, segregating wealthy-looking ones from those who do not put too much emphasis in their looks. In agri-business, for example, that is the number one death to potential transactions with first time clients.

During one agricultural show in an east African country, a semi-illiterate farmer approached a small truck sales person to inquire about a pick up, barely getting any attention.

A few minutes latter, wads of notes carried in the most unorthodox of ways, in pockets, socks, pant etc found their way into the salesman’s hands.

The assuming salesperson would never have thought in the wildest dreams, that they would land cash transaction for a vehicle from a ragged looking farmer, but so is business.

Briefly put, in business, a customer is a customer. Small time customers are the ones who grow into big time clients. Instead of waiting for them to come to you when they are big and well informed about your product when it is almost impossible to make them have product shifts, you are safer growing with the customers such that even when they have a complaint about your product, they take time to seek an explanation based on the long time mutual trust developed over the years.

A customer is like a baby. At first they are young and have little information, and at that time, may not make you the star salesperson or the most respected company.

When they grow up and can afford to buy even when they do not need, they will payback your patience and trust with loyalty and understanding. In any business, a loyal client is worth a million francs in repeat sales and referrals.

That is why businesses should look beyond the notes and coins in a customer’s wallet or purse when they walk in for their dear first time. Businesses should look at that customer like an opportunity to define their financial future, not a chance just to empty their pockets today.

One test of where your company lies on customer care is the invoice that you write to the customer. Do you let the accountant who for heavens sake would like the toughest terms, so that he can receive the cash soonest to write or determine the invoice terms or do you give to the receptionist or cashier?

The invoice is a customer document so at worst it should have the customers’ terms. Remember if you give the best reasonable terms to the customer, they will be happy that you have given them the initiative and do not be surprised if they pay before when you expect them to, except if they are crooks.

The crux of the matter is if the customer feels that he is valued he will try to validate himself by giving gratitude for that value and taking care of his accounts without unnecessary inconvenience by the business.

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