A short visit to the famous market in Lagos located on the island popularly known as Eko – Idumota, got my mind thinking of how customer service and branding correlate. The market is segmented into various parts, for instance as a customer if I wanted to purchase an electronic product, there is a location segment for those kind of products and the same for clothing’s and other household products;

all these various products located at different areas of this market. These shop owners are usually lined up in a particular area all offering the same products and similar price. With further thoughts I would want to assume that there must be an association that makes sure all players in this market offer the same price for some particular similar products to create a level playing ground for all business owners in that product segment.  In order to make reasonable sales on a daily basis, these owners are permanently on standby at the entrance of their shops, dragging, persuading (Mehn!!! You don’t want to imagine) and marketing their products to passing by customers.

The shop/business owner with the most sales in a day is usually the one that makes sure a reasonable number of potential customers are brought into his shop. This got me thinking, they all play in the same industry, sell the same products, negotiate within the same price range…what would make me earn enough sales and distinguish my product /service offerings from the other shop owners? Therein I noticed the efficacy of customer service strategy, interpersonal relationship with customers as paramount to sales success. In order to make sure I purchase products from your shop, you have to employ individuals that possess good communication and interpersonal skills. They must ensure that I find my way into your shop in order to buy these products. In this market excellent performance is reliant on a strong sales force. Appropriate persuasion skills are highly recommended to make customers walk into your shop.

Once this is achieved, customers succeed in entering into your shop and then another stage evolve; product viewing, negotiation skills, comfort (enough stools & benches), hospitality, colorful business cards (with names like Alhaja sikirat ventures, Stanley brothers, God’s power cloth & shoes, Madam Kofo Swiss, French, dry and maybe wet lace ‘sef’ e.t.c) and most importantly the cheerfulness of the sales staff in the shop. As a business owner in this kind of commoditized market, if you happen to succeed with these criteria, you have established a strong brand name for your shop. Also, you have earned enough recommendation that would spread from one customer to friends and family with the same need for the products you offer.

A company’s success or failure is dependent on customer service. Creating a culture of service, performance and operational excellence does not happen by chance; it takes a systematic process to create a sustainable change which links to the perception customers have towards a company’s product or service. This is known as branding. A brand is a company’s face to the world. It is a kind of promise. It describes the company’s products, services and initiatives. My short journey to the most popular market in Lagos, Nigeria, opened my eyes to the importance and effectiveness of combining excellent customer service with achieving the right brand reputation (the trust a customer has in you). If you want to increase your business performance and earn some triple bottom line figures you have to put this into practice.

Adedoyin Fiyinfoluwa

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