I once found an article titled “Why Customer Service Is Poor In Nigeria And What Can Be Done About It” written by CustomerNG as far back as 2013 but it seems the issues been raised there are yet heeded by many young entrepreneurs in the country even today.
More recently in 2017, from a literature review by Babandi Ibrahim Gumel titled “Critical Challenges Facing Small Business Enterprises in Nigeria”, he revealed that most small businesses fail within the first five years notwithstanding the agencies established by Nigerian Government to support the sector. Most of the failure is due to numerous challenges facing the sector one of which is lack of customer satisfaction in Africa and this is killing many entrepreneurs, especially in Nigeria.
I have seen people in recent months go on social media and make serious complaints and agitations of good products and designs oftentimes after a poor customer relationship experience. This has taught me to understand that customer service is arguably the most important thing for your business to stay on track. Of course, building a good brand and product is good and very important. Having a great marketing strategy is also important to your business but you can’t afford anything short of excellence for your customer service. In fact, great customer service can overcome poor marketing, but it’s quite a great deal to substitute poor customer service with even the most exceptional marketing. It was revealed from a research that 95% of dissatisfied customers tell others about their bad experience. (Dimensional Research). Those numbers simply illustrate the reality of providing a poor customer experience.
For young entrepreneurs that truly aspire long-term success and greatness, it is important to take note of these mistakes common to small and medium scale businesses and learn to avoid them.
Poor attention to detail – Not many founders give priority to service details as much as they do to product details. If you happen to be in that category, then you’d better have someone in your team who does. Not giving attention to details is telling your customers you really do not care and if you don’t care about what they get, why should they care about what they give? As much as you put in the effort in building the product, it is important to put in equal and corresponding effort in the delivery. Not doing so is easily giving up your credibility.
Long response and wait times – I have been victim of long response times with many many small businesses and as well a few big organisations. When this happens frequently, not just the reputation of the brand or product, but the reputation of the entrepreneur is also easily lost. According to billionaire investment guru, Warren Buffet, he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” The moment a customer lodges a complaint or makes a request on a product or service, the customer is having a wait limit. If you fail to deliver within the limit, you have failed a customer. In this case, the timeliness of the need is more important than the value you’re delivering.
Failed Expectation – As an entrepreneur, it is important to understand that price is what a customers pays for and value is what the customer gets in return. Sales expert Liz Wendling pointed out on her blog that customers don’t necessarily choose only “the lowest price or the cheapest in town.” According to her, customer preferences, have nothing to do with price and everything to do with the value you are conveying. When you fail to meet the expectation of the customer, disappointed customers are likely to go ahead and share their disappointment with friends on any platform while the angry customers will go further in posting angry reviews for other prospective customers to see. On the other hand, when customer enjoy good value, the company easily enjoy word-of-mouth marketing at no extra cost. This is one way Apple has remained dominant in the world of smart devices despite the higher price.
As an entrepreneur, it is your goal to succeed in your business and one of the things you must do to achieve the goal is to be able to put a smile on your customers’ face and leave them with an overwhelming positive impression of your business. When there is an issue, the goal should be to restore the customer’s confidence. Without it, there is no loyalty. So, you must always take quick action to fix the problems that arise and do it in such a way that your customer keeps no negative reservation.