The Sunday Mail
All business relationships are premised on one element . . . trust!
For business relationships to move to the next level, between the supplier and the customer, there is trust that each one will meet his end of the bargain.
Thus, companies feel that it is their duty to take great care of its customers, while on the other hand, the same customers reciprocate this responsibility by being auditors for corporate ethical issues.
The rise of consumerism has also exacerbated this notion that consumers should always watch out for unethical behaviour by organisations while they forget to also keep the same consumer in the same ethics lane.
Laying the unethical blame on organisations alone is not only unfair but it tips the scale on the wrong side. Both organisations and customers must have ethical considerations whenever they meet for business or in social circles.
Customers have always been praised as kings because of the benefits that business gain from their patronage but is it always the case with every customer?
I have noted with concern that due to certain customer behaviours not all of them deserve to be treated like royals.
It is true that customers are not super humans and many-a-time fail in the customer-and-supplier relationship through their actions which may not be ethical. Their cardinal sins range from the most overt to the most covert and in some instances it takes the experienced customer service personnel to undoubtedly pick the sinning customer(s).
In spite of the usual statement that customers are always right, some customers make this statement a shame because they present deviant behaviours which is against basic standards. Some have the guts to manipulate and lie in order to get certain services or products at the expense of their service providers.
It is funny to note that despite their shortcomings, they are still customers who must be treated right because their spending brings joy to the company’s financial books.
In most cases consumers think that if an unethical action is a result of the organisation mistake, it is not their fault but it is the organisation’s and it must, therefore, get what it deserves.
This kills the spirit of good working relationship between customer and organisation. The most prominent unethical behaviour exhibited by customers include jay customer behaviour, retail fraud, insurance fraud, tax evasion and payment delays.
Some corporates are notorious for not honouring payments to their suppliers at the agreed times and in some extreme instances, suppliers are frustrated in accessing their payments to the extent that they end up writing off these debts.
This is sad, especially in our economy which is largely informal, and of the few formal players that exist, most of them operate from hand-to-mouth because they have limited working capital to finance their orders and projects.
Corporate customers usually hide behind the absence of the signatory, which is now a tired lie. Late payments result in suppliers not getting real value for their money since that will have been eroded by inflation.
Ethical customers stick to the agreed payment terms and if there is a problem, suppliers are notified on time so that proper adjustments are made and relationships are preserved. At the end of the day, suppliers are forced to give first preference to customers that pay them quickly.
Jay Customer Behaviour
This is more common in the hospitality industry where customers misbehave with frontline employee and this is normally done for financial gain or to prop up the ego of the customer. This term originated from Christopher Lovelock and the actions of these customers are deliberate.
Although customers are kings, one thing for sure is that jay customers are not always right, honest and nice. They are so full of themselves, are attention-seekers, abusive and are individualistic in nature to such an extent that they think they are the only priority and businesses should drop even the next customer and attend to them.
These customers are so good at drawing attention at the slightest chance by raising their voices to get things their way and in the process, they abuse staff and other customers too.
This is commonly known as shoplifting, and it is rampant in high volume retail shops. Retail fraud includes customers that attempt to get bogus refunds by laying false claims, those that alter price tags on goods and other merchandise as well as those that consume products in the shop before purchasing and walk out without making a payment. The most common is when customers hide merchandise and leave the shop without making a payment.
According to Insurance 24, insurance fraud in Zimbabwe constitute about 30 percent of the claims they receive. Customers willfully get into accidents or they claim to have lost insured items so that they can make claims to insurance companies.
These are some of the unethical acts by insurance customers meant to defraud organisations that offer insurance services. At the end of the day insurance companies end up with reduced profits due to increased pay-outs while in some extreme cases, the firms collapse after getting bankrupt.
This is generally a deliberate failure by some citizens to pay to Caeser what belongs to Caeser. This is unethical because it constitutes a criminal offence based on violation of tax regulations. This is common in the informal sector as both suppliers and customers do not remit legally due taxes. This behaviour is also a form of fraud and can be seen as defrauding the government which rely heavily on those taxes to run the State.
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461