Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Businesswise | Untrained entrepreneurs are bad for business

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMYaneek Page

It is difficult to lead others further than you have gone yourself. Those are powerful words that are applicable in life, leadership and especially entrepreneurship. For example, an entrepreneur who has never been trained to understand the value of customer service and how to deliver exceptional service will never be able to teach that to his employees nor deliver it to his customers.

Last week, I came across a screenshot of an exchange between a potential customer and a business that went viral on Twitter. Here's the conversation the potential customer posted under the caption 'Customer service in Jamaica', minus the emojis.

Customer: "Good afternoon. My son bd is coming up. How much will a paw patrol or spiderman cake cost?

Business: We are CLOSED on Sundays and Mondays.

Prospective Customer: Oh ok. I respect rest days but this rite here is sooooooo rude ... no customer service at all!! Smh anyways ... losing 1 follower/potential customer won't kill your bizz.

Business: The time taken to send us this message could be taken to read our bio. Our operating hours and days are listed. Spend your time wisely. Best wishes.

Prospective customer: idk (I don't know) y people support ur bizz with this type of behaviour. I hope other customers know how rude and disrespectful u are.

Business: Thank you. Perhaps they support us because they read. Next time try to read. Reading is the gift of knowledge. Have a great day.

Prospective customer: Lmao. Ok (expletive).

Business: Ok. Great

Prospective customer: Jamaicans have no customer service."


Not only is this one of the worst exchanges I've seen between a prospective customer and a business, it will likely be included in my future workshops as a study in how never to communicate in business especially with customers.

The first error the business made was responding to say they were closed. They should have either have set an automatic responder for closed periods, not responded until opening hours, or respond by providing a quote immediately.

The next mistake was capitalising the word 'closed'. It is akin to shouting at the customer, and also communicated annoyance/displeasure at being contacted outside opening hours.

Even if, remarkably, they did not anticipate an adverse reaction to their initial response, once it became clear that the customer was angry, the business should have immediately owned the mistake, apologised unreservedly, and used the opportunity to recover the customers interest. Doing so would not only have prevented her from sharing her bad experience on social media in the most graphic way, but could have turned her into a loyal customer and fan who would instead spread positive word of mouth about the company.

Research shows that customers who are highly satisfied with how you manage their complaints are more likely to be even more loyal in the future.


Here's what the business could have said: 'Dear Ms ABC, We apologise unreservedly for our response, and that we offended and upset you. We realise on reflection that our message was very inappropriate and completely understand why you are upset. Please know that this has a been a significant learning experience for us, and as a result, we will be doing a comprehensive review of our customer communications and how we manage customer service generally as we strive to deliver the best quality cakes to customers like yourself while at the same time delivering an exceptional customer experience that will delight you. If you will be so kind as to allow us, we would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve you and make your son's special day even more memorable.'

In addition to the apology, the business should have offered a substantial discount, free delivery, and immediately sent sample pictures of the cakes with the themes she asked for and the cost, less the special discount.

Getting into a war of words and hurling insults at customers is not just bad for business, it can be a fatal mistake, especially in this digital age where proof of bad experiences and poor service can be screen shot and shared with the world in seconds with the simple tap of a finger.

Although it's at a very late stage, I hope the business apologises and tries desperately to make it up. Even if they are unsuccessful, it's critical that they try.

I hope, too, that as undeserving as they appear, the customer will forgive the ignorance, give the business a chance to learn from this experience, improve and even win her over.

However, most customers are not sensitive to entrepreneurs' lack of training and ignorance of customer service. Research shows that over 90 per cent will be unforgiving at this point and can do substantial damage to the company to by sharing on social media.

I hope this serves as a wake-up call to entrepreneurs and others customer-service training is compulsory for everyone, and even more important it's not treated as an event or position, but a way of life, a key value, and an essential element of the organisational culture.

One love!

- Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and creator/executive producer of T he Innovators TV series. Email: Twitter: @yaneekpage Website: