Hiring sulky staff repels customers

They treat you like you are bothering them

In Summary

• Entrepreneurs recruit poorly paid staff as a way to save money but it hurts service

Customer service
Customer service

Customer service is among the very key elements of business, but it is surprising how many small and medium enterprises fail to live up to their potential because of poor customer service.

It’s a fact that nobody will give you money unless you are nice to them. Why, then, do some entrepreneurs employ sulking, lazy and outrightly rude persons in customer-facing positions?

It is not unusual to walk into a small business to find people who know nothing of the products or services they are supposed to be selling. Worst of all is encountering disinterested staff hard at work browsing online videos or checking out clothes brought in by a hawker. Such employees will treat every customer with disdain because the entry of a customer disrupts whatever it is they are doing.

Why, then, would entrepreneurs put the worst kind of people in the customer service role? They do it because it is profitable, at least in the short term. Putting a spouse, a child, a sibling or a job-seeking relative in the business saves the proprietor money that would otherwise be spent on salaries. Most proprietors who employ relatives in the business don’t give them regular salaries except for the occasional allowance.

In the long term, any money saved by putting unpaid relatives or friends in the enterprise is quickly cancelled out by atrocious customer service, which repels customers. Service-oriented businesses such as bars, beauty parlours, restaurants and hotels are particularly sensitive to the quality of service offered.

This story first appeared on Star Sasa, accessible on Sundays for Sh10 on

Edited by T Jalio