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Ade Olabode: Store Owners, Here are 5 ‘No Excuses’ Steps to Implementing Good Customer Service



dreamstime_l_10092672We have all been there, you ask a customer assistant the location of a product and you are told ‘it’s over there’. You start wondering ‘where is over there?’. This can be very typical in terms of customer service in Nigeria. Customers are sometimes treated as if they’re doing us a favour by patronising our premises. However, all hope is not lost yet.

Below are areas where retail businesses can emulate in their customer service, to ensure they are able to provide a great  customer service. This of course helps to generate more sales, hence why it’s so crucial. It makes absolutely no sense for customers to walk out of your stores, simply  because of the ‘poor customer service’ they have received.

Greet them
This may sound simple enough but it’s often ignored by a lot of shop assistants. Why? Might be due to boredom, laziness, not caring enough, doesn’t like the face of the customer (yes, I’ve heard this ‘reason’ before!) etc. Whatever the reason, this is bad for business as it makes a customer (who has come to spend money), feel unwelcomed. Hence the onus lies on the business owners to enforce good customer code of conduct. Your business needs every Naira from all customers to ensure growth and profitability.

Show them
Going by the example mentioned in the introduction. Large retail stores around the world have aisle identifications. This is to ensure minimal confusion for shoppers. Of course you don’t expect shoppers to know the location of products in a store with a lot of items on over many aisles. It’s a no-brainer that shoppers will get lost amongst the aisles, hence the need for them to ask questions. Moreover, many shoppers are impatient and would rather ask than try to find.

So you may be wondering that your store is not that large for aisle identifiers but the shoppers will still like to be shown where they can find the items they are looking to purchase. It is imperative that you show them. Ask them exactly what they are looking to purchase especially when they seem lost and then show them where they can find the items.

Help them
Most shoppers generally often do need help with their shopping. This may be helping them get a shopping trolley or basket. Often times shoppers buy more than they initially intended. In such instance they won’t see the need to get a shopping basket so it’s a good practice to help them get one. This is actually a good way to generate more sales; the shopper will most likely shop for more items. Or it could just simply asking them ‘is there anything I can do to help?’.

Know the products
Shoppers have a knack for wanting to know which brand of a product is the best. It does make sense to know. You may not have a retail store but you definitely still need to know your product. You can’t convince me to buy your product if you don’t know the core benefits of the product. Of course, you as the business owner will know and be able to convince me, but how about the customer service assistants or salespeople? Do they know? The onus lies on you as the business owner to equip them with every vital knowledge of the product. This ensures they are well equipped to bring in the goose. We certainly do this at PrognoStore since PrognoStore is a retail product that combines point of sale, inventory management and analytics, how do our salespeople signup new retail stores if they have little or no clue what it is?

Label your aisles
I have decided to include this point. Why? I find it difficult locating items. You will be helping me if your aisles are well labelled. This is independent of the size of your store. Let shoppers know where to find items easily without the need to ask. It sure doesn’t make sense for 100 shoppers to keep asking for the location of items in your store. Please help them to help you.

When you put in place the above you will enhance the customer service experience for shoppers. They are happy to come to your store rather to walk out without buying anything. You don’t want frustrated shoppers as they will end up by-passing your store for you competitors. If this happens you lose current and future purchases. You lose money.

Are you a retail business owner? Do you agree with these practical steps? Do you also have other good practical steps that will help business owners? Please feel free to share in the comments.

P.S Don’t forget that you can still get the free 60 days offer to PrognoStore. PrognoStore is Point-of-Sale software for small business which helps you sell your goods/services, track your inventory and gain insight to run your business. It’s all you need to run your small business. Simply go to and enter Free4Bella for promo code to get 60 days free.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Papa Olabode is an adviser to small business owners. He's the co-founder & CEO of PrognoStore (, the Point-of-Sale Software for small businesses. PrognoStore is a 3-in-1 solution as it combines point-of-Sale, Inventory and Analytics to be all you need to run your store. He's a chartered accountant and has previously worked at Deloitte, Credit Suisse and co-founded HGE Capital. Follow on Twitter @papaolabode


  1. presh

    February 18, 2016 at 11:23 am

    They should also ensure to give customers there balance when they have paid for or purchased an item, i am tired of hearing , i dont have 20 naira, please can i owe you 50 naira. the mama cass on adeola odeku should please stop this rubbish, if you cant ask a customer that its ok to go with some part of your money stop asking them to leave theirs behind no matter how small it is.

    • Ade

      February 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      @presh…really good one,lol! I hope Mama Cass reads BN! But jokes aside, although it might seem like a little inconvenience, I do agree that asking customers to leave their hard earned money (just because of ‘no change’) is not the best approach.

  2. Rustic

    February 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Gbam!Poor non existent customer service in Nigeria but i must point out that i have seen a big improvement though.kudos to those who have well trained personnel.we see u and we appreciate.e.g MMIA…great conduct by staff,new generation banks….great customer service but can be better,shop owners…..some have improved.waiting on others,roadside stalls…hmmmm?

    • Ade

      February 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Yeah MMIA is improving…..but too early to pat them on the back or praise them yet. There’s a lot to still be done to reach even the most basic expected level of service. Still we hope.

  3. DD

    February 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Not smiling, poor knowledge on products (even if you didnt study chemistry or any related subjects, the abc of the product should do) and let’s not forget Courtesy.( not just the body language or frowning face, but just the oral diarrohea that they spew out of their mouths sometimes ” You place your items at the till, and you hear ” IS THAT ALL?.” you are trying to get money out of your wallet.. you hear the attendant , facing south smiling and gisting with their fellow till/cashier assistant..(seem to be major problems)… or you wall round and want to ask for an item .. and the reply you get is ” WHAT?. EHEN, WHAT DO YOU WANT?, No SMILE, Good day Ma, can i help you , or sure, thanks, please, and the one that annoys me the most is you give a naira note and no change , you hear a loud ” Oooh where can i find change now?…i don’t like this kind of thing”!O-O! and these happens in departmental stores where you think they have been trained to know what to do
    * I think a Suggestion box and mystery shoppers should be introduced into Nigerian markets, i.e departmental stores, boutiques, supermarkets and even small shops …
    ****Workers should also be trained on delivering good customer service Et-i-quette monthly or quarterly and major points or some form of improvement to push them ahead and those that refuse to improve should be put on probabtion or sacked, cos business is business not a child’s play ting!

    • rustic

      February 18, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Lmao…not funny when in that position but really d no change bit

    • Ade

      February 18, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      @DD +1 to the mystery shopper and suggestion boxes. I personally think mystery shopper works better as this will keep everyone on their toes.

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