What happened to the adage ’The Customer is the King’?

By Jane Babirye
On 28 October 2023 at 11:00

The phrase “the customer is the King” has been ingrained in the world of business for centuries. It represents the idea that customers are the most important part of any business and should be treated with the utmost respect and care.

However, it appears that certain business settings purposefully refused to implement the idea into their operations.

These include, but are not limited to, lady’s salons, marketplaces, and boutiques. People employed in these situations have a habit of acting like they can function without clients, which leaves you questioning ‘why they leave their beds early in the morning in the name of working’, yet fail to ’perform the work’.

While I once read a tweet from someone I don’t remember because I’m not their follower claiming that "Rwandans can save a foreigner at any time but not a fellow Rwandan." As a foreigner, I’ve witnessed multiple events that prompted this essay.

When it comes to some occupations, it makes little difference where they are (the people named) act the same way even in my own country), regardless of who you are or where you come from; instead, it is in their DNA to act that way.

Nonetheless, as James Baldin once said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced," a gentle reminder to those in the service delivery sector of the importance and value of customer care can change not only the customer’s experience, but also the businesses themselves.

Understanding customer service?

Customer service is a fundamental aspect of any business that focuses on providing assistance, support, and solutions to customers; before, during, and after their interactions with a company’s products or services.

It encompasses a range of activities and strategies aimed at ensuring customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a positive overall experience. These include; attentive listening, problem-solving, and a commitment to meeting customers’ needs and expectations, ultimately contributing to a company’s success and reputation in the market.

Why we should re-embrace the principle

Customer Loyalty: Customers that are happy are more likely to become loyal customers. A satisfied customer can generate recurring revenue and function as a brand ambassador, drawing new consumers through favourable word-of-mouth.

Reputation and Trust: Companies that prioritise their customers’ demands and satisfaction establish a solid reputation for trust and dependability. In a day when consumers have more options than ever before, this can be a tremendous asset.

Long-Term Growth: A customer-centric approach promotes long-term growth and sustainability. Businesses that prioritize customer experience are more likely to adapt to shifting market conditions and developing trends.

Differentiation: Treating the customer as king can be an effective differentiator in crowded markets. Providing outstanding service distinguishes a business from competition and can justify premium price.

To the service providers;

Gossip is damaging and unethical, but it is especially disturbing in a setting intended for leisure and self-care. The negative impacts of gossip extend beyond the feelings of customers; they also reflect adversely on the establishment’s and the industry’s reputation. It erodes trust and fosters an unpleasant environment.

Furthermore, it is critical for all businesses to cultivate a culture of inclusivity and equal treatment for all customers. Discrimination, particularly in price, is not just unethical but also illegal in some areas.

In addition, Many clients feel their concerns and preferences aren’t heard. Establish a feedback system that allows clients to voice their opinions and concerns, and then act on that feedback for continuous improvement.

Similarly, maintaining a clean and hygienic work environment is non-negotiable. Clients should feel comfortable and trust that they’re in a safe and clean space.

As employers ensure that all employees understand and embrace the importance of customer satisfaction. It should be an integral part of the company culture. Invest in training and development programs to empower employees to deliver exceptional customer service.

Furthermore, regularly assess and improve processes, products, and services based on customer feedback and changing preferences.

In a world that’s becoming increasingly diverse, the importance of treating all customers equally and with respect cannot be overstated.

"The customer is king" is a timeless business principle that should never be forgotten. Neglecting the customer in pursuit of short-term gains can lead to long-term losses.