Business failure have been attributed to various remote and immediate causes. However, this paper on customers’ polygamy as a consequence of business failure looked into customer disloyalty and how it affects business in the long run. The paper maintains that factors such as competition, entrepreneurs’ personality, greed, deception amongst other factors can gradually cause customers to withdraw from patronizing a business entity. Accordingly, it was therefore, recommended that business owners must put mechanisms in place to regularly check their customer loyalty and do regular market research with a view to checking on competitive products.
Keywords: Customers, Competition, Customers’ Polygamy, entrepreneurial Personality, Business Performance.
“Customers are the most polygamous set of persons on earth; they will always seek for the best option at the cheapest rate. It is the natural way of buying”.
Across the globe, numerous businesses have failed, some are performing poorly, yet, others survived but are yet to meet their predetermined targeted objectives. Despite these shortfalls in business expectations, some business owners are still unable to identify why their businesses failed. While they are able to identify those immediate factors hindering their business growth, the remote causes seemed elusive to them. For one thing, no matter how good a business products are, when customers are not loyal to a business brand, it can cause a whole lot of challenges to the business organization. This paper therefore, pries into the polygamous nature of customers and how they influence the growth of especially small scale businesses.
In a general sense, polygamy refers to the situation of a man/woman getting married to more than one wife/husband. A marriage in which a man gets married to two or more wives is referred to as polygyny, while a woman who is married to two husbands is referred to as polyandry.
However, for the purpose of this discourse, polygamy will mean a customer who patronizes more than one shop for a product(s). True, it is normal that consumers wants the best for the cheapest price and as such, would visit as many shops as possible to get what they really want. However, most business owners knows how to build a loyal customer base, customers they can depend on anytime, any day. These customers have grown from merely being customers to being friends, because friendship is the real tool that keeps customers. Unfortunately, after building a loyal customer base, business owners may feel relaxed and begin to bask on their customers’ loyalty without doing further research into the market to follow trends and checking regularly on the strength of their customers’ loyalty.
The fact remains that the business environment is very stiff and highly competitive and as such, business owners are expected to be very versatile in prying into trends to see what competitors are doing that would elicit their loyal customers’ interest. This act of enticing the loyal customers by the competitors must be checked, else, customers’ polygamy may ensue. Sooner or later, the customer’s attention may have been drawn to another enterprise who “does it better”.
Accordingly, those businesses that are now tending towards liquidation must test their customer base to check if their loyalty are still intact, otherwise act quickly. This is because customer’s disloyalty can cause a whole lot of harm to your business. The following therefore are some causes of customer’s polygamous attitude.
Causes of Customers’ Polygamous Attitude
- Stiff Competition: Who would believe that one day, Globacom Nigeria would come and people will start buying Glo sim card to make calls at a cheaper rate? Globacom came with aggressive marketing techniques, selling its sim card by far cheaper than MTN Nigeria and even at a point, free. This affected the customer base of MTN Nigeria. Therefore, competition is a very key indicator why holding on to integrity is very difficult for consumers. The customer wants to keep his/her integrity, but the offer from the other end is highly tempting.
- New Product Entry: Just like competition, new product entry is another key indicator for customers’ polygamous attitude. Although your product is qualitative, an additional feature to the competitive product (maybe cheaper, promo biro, etc.) may divert the customer’s attention, thereby affecting his/her loyalty.
- Business Owner Personality/Customer Relation: This feature is mainly attributed to micro, small and medium scale enterprises. This is because in bigger organizations, impersonality is very bogus. In micro, small and medium scale enterprises, customers may have one on one encounter with the business owner and the business owner’s personality may tell on the customers’ loyalty. Most of the business owners have bad attitude. They can hardly absolve normal customers’ wrong attitudes/misdemeanors. They fail to understand that some customers need little persuasion to actually buy. The truth is that they will actually buy, but just a little more discussion and friendliness. But in the process, some impatient entrepreneurs easily get tired out and give in to quarrel. Sure, no customer will tolerate being quarreled. Some business owners feel that “after all, he/she in not the only customer. Sure, but they fail to understand the longterm effect of such statement. Ok, let us say you said that to three customers in a month. Let us also believe again that those three customers now stopped buying from you as a result of what you think is customers’ misbehavior. Now these three customers will go round telling their relatives, friends and others about your bad attitude. What? Did you really think they will accept that they are the ones who were wrong? No way! So you see? This is the challenge. So, mouth talk to mouth, before you check what is really happening, you may have used your impatience to kill your business. This may also happen in big organizations when secretaries and receptionists begin to behave indecently to their customers. The term “customers are always right” may have been invented to teach employees the need to ignore customers’ misdemeanors and focus to eliciting sales and patronage. This is because whence clients begin to have a wrong perception of a business as a result of impression made during transactions, repeat patronage becomes a nightmare for them. So, it doesn’t matter whether customers are wrong or not, they must have a nice experience to garner future sales.
4. Bad Experience Using a Product: When a customer have a very bad experience at home as a result of using your products, count your business as virtually dead. If by grace, those customers have the time to return to complain, do all you can to apologize, amend and please the customers. They must be made to understand that the experience is entirely your fault that such will not happen again. Where possible, give extra as a way for compensating for their wasted time, money and precious trust in you. If this is not done, if you think your business have become so firm that just one customer will not make you fall, then understand that such occurrence will not end there, another related issue will reoccur. How long will you continue in such approach that will lead you nowhere?
5. Charging Too High: Although we understand that good quality cost money. Nonetheless, by the time same quality goes for less out there, how do you expect the customer to leave a cheaper product and buy from you? Oh! Maybe your customers are now planting money trees at home. You must learn the ways/tricks of the competitor and respond accordingly.
6. Deception: One thing that turns customers off the most is deception. You said the last price for the product is N200, but the customer, after buying from you, saw it for N100 elsewhere, how can the customer leave the other shop and patronize you next time? You must know why the same product sells for a cheaper rate out there. Maybe it could be your dealer sells higher than their dealers. You must investigate the market to learn all these.
7. Greed: While greed is closely related to deception above in this context, I have decided to add it due to personal experiences. Some business owners want to make all the profits just from one customer. When the customer appears to be well to do, they want to scrape him/her pocket. But you forgot to check if he/she is an economist. Sure you are in for a shock. Endeavour to make to minimal profit, just for one purpose – to ensure a repeat patronage.
Consequences of Customers’ Polygamous Attitude
- Decreased Sales: The polygamous nature of customers can actually caused decreased sales. While you are in the office thinking all is well there, the customers are busy checking for the alternative to your products. And as time goes on, if there are no checks, the business is bound to lose numerous customers should they found any better alternatives.
- Losses: When customers are no longer loyal, products are expected to stay longer in the shop, and where products are perishable goods or have minimal expiration time, sure, loss is inevitable.
- Business Redundancy: Before business fails, a time comes when the business outlook seems dull. Nothing much really happens. This is when customers’ lack of integrity begins to tell on the business operations. Along the line, there are some customers, even though they have the integrity, the look of the shop alone drives them away. Or maybe they purchased an expired product, they begin to fear that some other products too may have expired and begin to stay away from your shop.
- Mental Breakdown: The impact of customers’ disloyalty can transcend beyond the business environment. Even the entrepreneurs begin to feel a mental breakdown as a result of its attendant business performance. These entrepreneurs may have invested a lot in the business. Or maybe, they must have depended on the business for their survival. However, the turn of events have now shortened their expectation. This will surely have a mental breakdown on them.
- Subsequent Business Failure: When customers are not dependable, business failure becomes a reality. Of course, no one produces with the intention that random customers will patronize. Concerted intents are activated to ensure that the products get to the final consumer, not only staying there, but remaining there. So, doing more research into new products in the market helps you to understand that these new competitive products may either be better and that your products needs reinforcements/upgrade or otherwise.
The Nexus between Customers’ Polygamy and Business Failure
Finding the link between customers’ polygamy and business failure has never been so difficult like the story of finding “x” in mathematics. As noted above, some business owners have already created a supposed growing customer base, either online or offline. Over the years, they have depended on this customer base for survival. But as years pass by, new methods in business and new approaches begin to emerge. Their inability to align with modern approaches in doing business will soon make their customers to look elsewhere, thus, making business to perform poorly. Also, the possibility of a better product out there, the competitors, the better customer relation of the other business may all team up together to make customers of a business become polygamous.
Once customers begin to rely elsewhere, business failure becomes inevitable unless they are investigated and actions taken immediately. Although, most business failures have been related to a whole lots of factors, customers’ loyalty play a major role in contemporary business performance. Therefore, business owners must endeavour to be with their customers every time, doing this by using social media pages and groups to reach them as regularly as possible.
So far, this paper had looked into the effect of customers’ polygamy on the performance of the business especially in the long run. The paper maintained the view that entrepreneurs’ personality, competition, new products entry, high charges, greed, bad business experience and so on will cause a customer to be disloyal to your business brand. Accordingly, business owners must do all they can to eliminate all such wrong possibilities and put mechanisms in place to check the effects of these effect.
Based on the gross implications of customers’ polygamy on the performance of a business, the following are therefore, suggested as a way forward:
- Compete Favourably: Competition is a major feature of business. In fact, industries that lack competition hardly grow. So, compete favourably. Invest in research into the market. Immediately you got wind of new products, do research and make a more powerful/similar product, something that would make your customers to feel relaxed. Behave as if you are the customers. Reason like them. Think ahead of them. Behave as if you are in their shoes. Elicit feedback and use findings to work on your products.
- Respond to New Product Entry: For any new product entry, endeavour to respond. Even if no necessary response is taken, let it be as a result of a finding, not as a result of negligence and lack of understanding. Think ahead, be ahead!
- Business Owner Personality/Customer Relation: Personality can kill your business faster than you think. Work on your customer relation skills. Give customers nice experience dealing with you. Give them an impression that you, by nature, are a nice person. This will draw them back. In the case of big organizations, well trained secretaries/receptionist in this direction will be of great help.
Just imagine Diamond bank Nigeria gatemen welcoming you to the bank as if your deposit means their very lives. They give you the impression of wanting to come back again. They are so trained that they greet the hell out of you and you begin to feel important.
- Apologize for Bad Experience Using your Products: A time will always come when business will go sour. This is because you cannot investigate all the products/services at all time. Accordingly, when products go bad, maybe you sold an expired product, endeavour to apologize immediately and recompense for the bad impression. Maybe this is an opportunity given to you by nature to exhibit your personality to your customers. Use it well.
- Charging Moderately: Moderate charges are highly recommended. No one expects you to sell below cost of purchase. But where business is highly competitive, make charges moderate. I have seen business owners who charges so high. I was like, “are you ok?” Yeah! You can’t charge me so high for what I have been buying at a cheaper rate and expect me to think you are ok. You needed to be checked. In most instances, overcharged customers never bother to negotiate. They just leave. Where do you expect them to start from? These are just the issues.
- Deception: Endeavour to be honest in your business dealings. Cheating your customers gives and impression that you take them for granted and as fools and they will stop visiting your shop whence they discovered you deceive them. Most of us in the internet business environment, we are extremely honest in our deals. This is because the online customers can easily browse out another shop and get prizes. Pray that at least, the difference between your prices should not be high, else, that is the end of the road leading that prospective to you.
- Greed: When a businessman is greedy, it soon tell on their businesses. The attitude of trying to make all the profits in a day or from one customer have a great effect on repeat patronage. Endeavour to be versatile, expand your horizon, be contented in small profit that will rake in more patronage than one sale that will end there or even reduce your customer base in the long run.
About the Author
Born Michael Aki on 28th July 1987 to the family of Julius Ahwusi Aki of Ona Quarters in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, the author is the first son and the eighth child of 9 children. He attended Ogelle Primary School, Ughelli (1994-1999), Otovwodo Grammar School, Ughelli (2000-2004), Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State (2009-2013). He obtained B.Ed (Accounting) in the Niger Delta University and currently engaged in a Master’s (M.Ed.) programme in the Niger Delta University.
Currently, he is the Lead Researcher at MJE Resources, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. He is the sole administrator and vocational guidance counselor of its affiliate/subsidiary at NDU Admissions and UTME Nigeria.
Now known as Michael Oghenenyoreme Julius, the author have a penchant for learning, research and education in general. His major objective for writing this book was based on his understating of customers’ behaviour in the office and how most colleagues are unable to manage the loyalty of some customers.
This paper will guide business owners in understanding the need to be with the customers at all time, teaching them about the uses of your products, alternative uses, and many other characteristics as a way of checking customers’ integrity.
We look forward to get your observations and comments at www.admissionsandutme.com.
Michael Oghenenyoreme Jules.
Vocational Business Educator, Admissions and UTME Nigeria