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A lot of us can identify with the maxim “customers are always right”, however, most times our actions and inactions trigger a confrontational response from the customers. Many small start-ups fail because the business owner did not learn just how to handle the most important tool of the business– customers. Yes! They are the variable factor that determines the success or failure of the business. There are different experiences you hear on the streets about customers’ behaviors. From my little knowledge of engaging in business transactions especially in Lagos Markets, I have been able to gather commandments of how customers love to be treated. Bearing in mind that there are frustrating customers, not everyone is out there to get you.

 Here are 5 commandments a business owner should know:

Thou shall always put up your live customers over and above your phone customers:

Many business owners make the mistake of putting phone customer as a priority neglecting those who are in front of them. Ok, I get in Nigeria, the Big Bosses on the phone pay more, but you should respect those customers loyal enough to spend few minutes of their day in a transaction. Everybody has whatever he/she can rather do, even the laziest of all. Imagine shouting out the products you want to buy, and you’re ignored for a phone call. Even if it is a business call, please as the business owner reassure the customer first while putting the phone customers on hold. If you cannot, indicate to someone else to attend to the need of such customer.

Thou shall never complain about your job in front of your client:

Mehn, this irritates the life out of me. Everyone has their own issues in life that they are dealing with, you do not need to burden another with your life problems. Oh, Nigeria Economy is your enemy. Yes we know your sales girl is stealing from you, what’s new? Right, your boss does not pay you enough. Most customers who patiently smile at you and listen to your rants just hope that by doing so they get discharged faster.

Thou shall always make your customers feel valued:

Only in Nigeria do business owners, especially market merchants, act as if they’re doing you a favour. The attitude written all over their faces is ‘hurry, buy what you want to buy, if not just get out of my face”. It is worse when you try to bargain or ask for further information about the products, you wonder if you have offended them in your previous life. Making your customers feel valued builds a comfort zone for them, subconsciously you register into their minds. That is why when the service you offer or product you sell is mentioned, your business is the first on their lips.

Thou shall be courteous at all times:

Rudeness is never a degree, an attainment or a goal. Endeavour to be courteous whenever you are in a business transaction, even if the customer is making you feel otherwise. Name calling or exchanging insults can only go downside. You learn new kinds of insults if you are not very careful as a customer. Your customers are already prepped about the service of embarrassment you offer to them and this deters others who may have been interested in patronizing you.

Thou shall display a can-do attitude:

Always believe in the things you can do no matter the circumstance. However, if the request is beyond your power, politely tell your customer or redirect them to what you are capable of doing. Saying “NO’ all the time when your customers make a request would make them doubt your abilities.

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This article was first published on 18th August 2017


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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