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11 December

Who is the real king – the customer or the merchant?

You might have heard that the customer is king expressly when you are part of a sales team. Some companies train their sales team, or they are voluntarily learning, that the customer is always the king.

But is a merchant not also a king? A person one is working tremendously hard to satisfy your needs and wants, and who is always a giver – even if it is for the purpose of making a profit.

If a merchant acts like a king by providing the best product and services in the best way, the customer will follow him or her for his or her products and services. The customer always needs the best, and the negotiation is nominal for premium products even if the price is high or if the waiting period is more than usual.

In many parts of the world, people tend to negotiate the best way possible for all middling products, but they feel diffident to use their negotiation skills with premium-product sellers. The reason might be that they think the product is premium, and that the company producing such a product is king-like.

Premium products and services are not limited to, say, luxury hotels or cars. It can be a small bottle of pure honey, or a tea bag, which is perhaps not sold in malls, and you may not see their ads. But, for which, people are prepared to take a drive or even a long walk to get.

I would like to propose that a customer need not be always the king. The merchant can also be a king, and both should have equal space in the business world.

The customer and merchant relationship

Fundamentally, a customer buys products and services from a merchant, and a merchant sells his products and services to a customer. Here, customers buy what they want, and it is the merchant who puts in the effort to deliver products and services. It is not very easy. He has to create value by setting up the business, invest money in buildings, materials, human resources, and more. He is the one who is taking the risk on the investment. The customer sees the final product, or the feel of the services he receives at his doorstep. Considering this, I sometimes feel that they are the king.

For instance, visualise that you arrived somewhere and searched for a hotel to stay, and you found one. From the hotel management’s perspective, you are a client. They indulge you like a king (because the ‘customer is always a king’). They will make you feel like a king, and finally, you will fall into the credence that you are a king. But what if there are no such hotels available and you have no choice but to stay in that city as you have a crucial business meeting the next day? In this case, you would be prepared any accommodation, even a simple sharing space.

Who is the real king in the business world?

Let me compare this with a democratic administration system. The real king delivers the best. The word ‘best’ refers to many factors, such as a product’s quality, price, delivery system, and after-sales service. One can see value in every single action of the merchant. The merchant values their employees equally and values the customer. The business should contribute to society as well. Deciding to buy a merchant’s product is a bit like voting for it. Here, competitors would be the opposition parties. People should have the right to evaluate performance – therefore a company owner must rule well to remain a king, or else they should leave the place for the opposition party.

How can you become a king?

I believe that the very first thing is the mindset of the business owner. Many business owners are in the business world, but there are few business kings among them. The moment a merchant wants to be a king, they will start thinking of creating values beyond the process of just making a profit by selling goods and services. Here ‘value’ is a big word and it must be delivered and sustained. If a merchant succeeds in becoming and remaining a king, they will no longer need to put in extra effort to sell. Instead, customers will come for their products and services. Yes, then customers will make you feel like a king.

Ease of access 

The customer who gives business gets a little more value, and they are not obliged to say ‘thanks’ for the services they receive. How many of us might have expressed gratitude towards the car’s company owner that we drive every day? Do we feel to say ‘thanks’ and show respect to the people who worked hard to facilitate all that we enjoy, like the luxury hotel we stayed in the last time, the food we had from the restaurant, the bus we travelled, and the School we studied at?

Today we get everything we need at our doorstep. This ease of access helped us forget people’s efforts in making these things available. Yes, products and services are sold for profit but what would happen if these things were no longer available?

Importance of a respectful balance

The average customer is not making an effort, or getting an opportunity, to understand how products and services are made available. In the business world, some get huge profits, and some get less. It is not always proportional to the effort put in and any quality measures. When we wear the merchant’s shoes and try to understand the effort that the merchant puts in to make a product available, we will value that and feel respect. We can give confidence to many merchants to come up with great products. Many outstanding products come from small-scale industries; many make such products from their house for small profits.

Impact of choice and abundance

When I went to buy toothpaste in a supermarket, I was very particular about not having a picture of a specific brand in my mind. I failed to select one because to look at all the brands and choices available would take a long time. If the choices are many, the value will be less. In some parts of the world, water is available for free from natural sources like a well. Here nature is a merchant, and the community is the customer. The merchant gives plenty and customers tend to value the availability of water less. In other parts of the world, the same merchant (nature) gives water in much smaller quantities and the ‘customers’ stand in queue for a long time to get a single bucket of water.

I don’t feel that this example falls into the bracket of ‘business’, but in business it makes sense to consider every aspect of human life because if you take humans out of the business equation, the function of buying and selling becomes zero.

Conclusion

In the business world, merchants and customers are equally important. A car manufacturer needs groceries for his house. A surgeon needs another doctor to do surgery on their own body, should they require it. We all are interdependent. A customer in one place will be a merchant in another. Nobody can be a customer or merchant alone. If we understand this, we will appreciate and respect salespeople and customers in the best way possible.

Original source: https://businessgraduatesassociation.com/