This is Personal Business: Customer Service Lessons from Ghana

I sometimes struggle with describing what everyday life in Ghana is like to people who live elsewhere (I try though, see my posts on everyday life in Ghana here). This week, however I had several experiences that all describe very well the warmth and cordiality of human interaction and how it seamlessly blends with business. I think the term “personal business” could be used for what I want to discuss in this post and that Ghana could teach the world!

I say this since I believe “personal business” has several positive results, like repeat business, customer satisfaction and lower sensitivity for price hikes and the likes. Here it’s been discovered – tadaa – the we are not the “economic man” when we make purchase decisions, we are “social man”.

I have four examples of “personal business” in Ghana happening to me just in the last week:

 

1. At Hairdresser’s

My hairdresser put the finishing touches to my hair and as I was getting up from my chair, her mother walked in. This is my hairdresser since about a year and I have met her mother some few times there. I said thank you to my hairdresser and turned to her mother and after some chitchat said “Merry Christmas if I do not see you before the holidays” and she reached out to embrace me!

If you live outside of Ghana: When were you last hugged by the mother of your hairdresser?

 

2. At the Gas station

I have been taking a new road to work and there is a newly opened gasstation on my new route. The first time I was there, I chatted with the attendants as my tanked was filled up (a luxury of the Ghanaian everyday life, you do not pump your own gas!). The next time I came, one of the attendants happily greeted me: “Mrs Adu, welcome!”

If you live outside of Ghana: When were you last addressed by name as you went to buy gas?

 

3. Knock, Knock, Seamstress here

Sunday night, there’s a knock on the door, outside is the young woman who used to be my seamstresses’ assistant years ago, but now is a seamstress in her own right. She says she has been thinking of me and want to sow something for me for christmas. Very well, I had meant to get that done, so I invite her in to take my measurements and collect a cloth I was given as a gift and have at home.

If you live outside of Ghana: When was the last time a craftswoman knocked on your door and asked if she could be of help?

 

 4. At the Car Shop

My car has been having problems and Thursday, I went to my mechanic. He puts on a wide smile as he sees me and teasingly addresses me in Twi – to test the limit of my language knowledge. Another customer is there and is surprised by this and we all laugh about it. I leave feeling entertained (and with new break pads)!

If you live outside of Ghana: When was the last time you had a hearty laugh together with your mechanic?

 

I am sure this is not just me who is experiencing “personal business”, rather in Ghana this is commonplace. I love that people know who I am, what I like and try to return to the same place for my clothes/haircut/car service and “my” service person. I shudder when remembering how even at your local supermarket or cafe in Europe you would ofte not be even recognized, let alone receive any type of personalised attention.

In Ghana, although we often complain of slow and at times indifferent customer service is – and sometimes it is both – but maybe they don’t now you just yet? We should also remember that many times customer service in Ghana is fused with friendship – which means it is highly personalized and what seems to be effortlessly cordial to the benefit of the company and the customer!

What great “personal business” have you recently had/provided in Ghana?