Paysave stores owned by Madam Abimbola, is one of the biggest provisions store in Lagos Island. Recently, she observed a recurrent loss in customers which was badly affecting sales as explained here . Since she could not seem to figure out what was wrong, she reached out to her friend who also operated a similar business. Madam Abimbola was introduced to a business consultant whose in-depth analysis revealed some major flaws in the business as follows.
1.Inefficient and Slow Payment system-
Despite operating one of the biggest stores in the market, Paysave stores internal processes was still rudimentary. It was a very large store yet they had only one payment point. This was because the owner, Madam Abimbola, wanted to oversee the cash collection herself. The sales attendant assisting at the checkout still wrote out receipts whilst another packed the goods. Moreso, there was no form of electronic payment system which made customers wait endlessly. Overall, the entire payment processing was inefficient and slow which led to customer loss. Certainly, there is need for an updated payment system and upgrading of the internal business process at Paysave stores.
2. Time Management
Having opened a new store, Madam Abimbola’s attention became divided. In a bid to monitor everything, she was constantly hopping from one store outlet to the other especially at peak times. In the end she was fatigued and could not achieve the hundred percent monitoring she desired. Paysave stores clearly need a store manager.
3. Untrained Staff-
Most of the attendants in the store have never received any form of customer service training. In addition, some could barely communicate well in English which was generally understood by a greater number of their customers. These led to a lot of back and forth during payment with customers leaving the store in anger. Of course, Madam Abimbola’s never knew because there was no system for recording complaints whilst she was away in the new store.
This was one of the most serious issue discovered. It seemed that the older sales attendants in the store had formed a mini-cabal in the store.
They had a carefully planned process of stealing from customers. In-between writing out receipts and packing items that have been paid for, these attendants had a way of intentionally omitting items already paid for when packing. They clearly took advantage of the crowded confusion during payment to rob unsuspecting customers. The absence of a CCTV camera in the entire store made this practice thrive. Gradually customers who had been serially robbed in Paysave stores began talking to others, news spread and loyal customers stopped patronage.
Whenever a business is experiencing customer loss, it is good practice to consider the internal and external factors which could be responsible. Although the larger external market forces might be difficult to identify and control, a thorough assessment of the internal factors and processes is a good place to begin. Yet, because of over familiarity, the process of identifying specific problems and proffering solutions might be challenging for business owners. In such instances and just like Madam Abimbola, the involvement of relevant experienced professionals becomes imperative. Above all, your choices should be based on what would keep your shoppers smiling, carts full and patronage on demand.
Ngozi Eneh Ojo , a writer and business consultant is a passionate about poverty reduction in women and empowerment through entrepreneurship.