"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Your business is centered on customers? I don’t believe you…

“I’ve been living in the Thank You Economy since a day sometime around 1995, when a customer came into my dad’s liquor store and said, “I just bought a bottle of Lindemans Chardonnay for $5.99, but I got your $4.99 coupon (later) in the mail. Can you honor it? I’ve got the receipt.” The store manager working on the floor at the time replied, “No.” I looked up from where I was on my knees dusting the shelves and saw the guy’s eyes widen as he said, “Are you serious?” The manager said, “No, no, you have to buy more to get it at $4.99.” As the man left, I went over to the manager and said, “That guy will never come back. I was wrong about that; he did come back. He came back a couple of months later – to tell us he would never shop with us again.”

GARY VAYNERCHUK ‘The Thank You Economy’ (2011)

Thus begins Gary Vaynerchuk’s excellent new book. Take a look at the excerpt again. What should that store manager have done? Should he have lost a dollar and accepted the coupon that was late? Most of you, if you have any iota of enlightenment about customers, will say yes. But I don’t believe you.

I don’t believe you because everywhere I look businesses are still designed to do things that are shrewd rather than wise. Saving the dollar is shrewd; saving the lifetime customer is wise. I believe you know the difference. I don’t believe you act on that knowledge.

Be a customer. Walk into a shop and try to return something that turned out to be defective. The chances are the shop will try to blame the defect on something YOU did. Or try to say you’ve just changed your mind about what you bought, and look at the expressions. You will be shown a sign on the wall, or small print on your receipt, that will read: “Good once sold cannot be…” (You know the rest.)

Be a customer. Walk into a bank and try to get a loan for something. Watch the paperwork hoops you will be asked to jump through for the next few weeks. Watch how you will be asked to provide not only cash or a property as collateral, but also insure your own life in the bank’s interest in case you default. Then watch how the bank will make you pay for every single expense related to the loan: insurers, valuers, lawyers et al. Watch how it will also charge you something large for “arranging” the loan (it’s a costly favour they’re doing you, apparently). And watch how the bank will earn a huge spread on the interest payments you will now be bound to make for much of the rest of your working life.

What are these businesses doing? They’re being shrewd, of course. They’re protecting themselves against nasty customers like you, who will abuse and misuse them if given the slightest opportunity. They’re looking after themselves; you have to look after you. That’s the way business is done.

Or is it?

There’s a better way, people. I just don’t think most of you will have the breadth of vision, the acuity of insight, or the bigness of heart to see it. That kind of person, like Gary Vaynerchuk, sees very clearly that the overriding purpose of business is to create and hold happy customers. That making customers happy makes employees happy. That happy customers create happy shareholders. That you make more money, not less, by not sweating the little stuff so much. That archaic rules and regulations kill the relationship and make every transaction coldly economic, instead of warmly emotional.

I don’t believe your business, whatever industry you’re in, knows this. So go on, prove me wrong.

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  • Samuel Ndirangu

    I remember buying a laptop in box from a shop in Westlands. On opening the box I discovered the specs were rather inferior to what was indicated by the seller. The shrewd fellows zungushad me until they gave up. I however had the last laugh, the guys called my place of work asking for business -supplying IT equipment. I calmly reminded them about my experience with them and added that I definitely would not jeopardize my job by dealing with people of their calibre.

    • Samuel:

      That’s the way to hit back – right in the wallet!

  • Kennedy Nyaga

    Last week I bought a shoe from bata. I trusted bata to sell genuine leather shoes. Especially since all their shoes have this small tag that says “Genuine Leather”. But alas! I wore those shoes once and they looked not so leather. So I took them back and the customer care lady told me that they are actually not leather and if I had asked I would have been told so.

    Sincerely, I would have only asked had they not put up the tag. I feel conned to date. For sure I am never buying bata again and its because of that simple lie. I ain’t even sure if their socks are cotton as they purport.

    • Hi Kennedy,

      We are deeply concerned with the issue you have raised. Kindly email us your contact info at bata.marketing@bata.com Cc. bata.kenya@gmail.com so that we can do a follow up on the matter.


      • Kudos, Bata, for responding that fast. I hope you will both address this customer as well as the more general issue.

    • Lisa

      Seriously if this was another state they would be sued. Their prices are so high so you should by all means get the genuine leather you paid for. But its good they have taken up the issue and they were quick at it too.

    • Anthony Mwamburi

      Kennedy, i can only say thats just unfortunate. I have been buying office shoes from Bata for the last 9 years and i have never had such an experience.

  • wanjiku

    i bought one of those ‘power’ branded sports shoes sometime and only wore them once!! they literally cracked apart… whats happening to bata???

    • Hi Wanjiku,

      Just wanted to inform you that as a customer you are entitled good quality products so any time you buy a shoe from any of our stores and such a thing happens, kindly return it to the store and talk to the Manager who will always at your service.


  • Simon Wambugu

    I would like to commend Bata for taking up the matter of Kennedy. I would urge Kennedy to update us on what transpired afterwards