Home Latest Insights | News Why Nigerian Businesses Should Focus on Building Goodwill and Customer Loyalty During Naira Scarcity: A Tale of the Tortoise and the Dog

Why Nigerian Businesses Should Focus on Building Goodwill and Customer Loyalty During Naira Scarcity: A Tale of the Tortoise and the Dog

Why Nigerian Businesses Should Focus on Building Goodwill and Customer Loyalty During Naira Scarcity: A Tale of the Tortoise and the Dog

In one of Yoruba’s moonlight tales, it was told that a long time ago, there was famine in the animal kingdom and all the animals were confused about what to do to salvage the situation. So they all turned to Tortoise for insights since he’s the one with a reputation for wisdom and cunning in the community. Tortoise noticed that the subsisting famine was due to overpopulation of the community. Therefore, he suggested that every member of the clan should sacrifice their mothers for the economic sustenance of the clan.

After a protracted debate, the entire community eventually agreed with Tortoise and they developed a pact to guide the execution of the idea. Every member of the clan conformed to the pact except Dog who hid his mother at a very elevated point in place far away from the community.

Several years after, when all of the members of the clan have sacrificed their mothers, the famine still persisted and it became worse than ever before. Then, all the animals began to grow emaciated and some died of hunger. But Dog was getting chubbier and healthier on a daily basis to the amazement of the rest of the animals.

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Every time Tortoise approached Dog to enquire about the secret of his success, Dog would simply reply him; “it’s the grace of God my friend.” Then, one day Tortoise could no longer contain his curiosity and thus decided to monitor Dog’s movement and daily routine. He eventually discovered that in the stark night when the rest of the animals had gone to sleep, Dog would normally leave his homestead to a place at the village outskirt.

One night, Tortoise trailed Dog to his secret place, and noticed from a distance that when Dog got to a particular point, he announced in a lyrical tone “Sweet mother send down the rope, your beloved only child is here to feed from your grace” Then a rope descended to lift Dog up from the ground.

Tortoise quickly rushed back to the village and called for an emergency meeting with the rest of the animals. He declared he has discovered the secret to Dog’s wealth. He narrated his experience and then suggested that Dog should be arrested the following night for him to be able to completely unravel the mystery.

In line with Tortoise idea, the King ordered for the arrest of Dog the following night, and then Tortoise ran to Dog’s secrete venue and mimicked his lyrical tone, “Sweet mother send down the rope, your beloved only child is here to feed from your grace.” As expected, a rope descended to the ground and Tortoise quickly held on to it to be lifted up. But after withdrawing the rope several miles above the ground level, Dog’s mother realized it was not her child and she quickly let go of the rope and Tortoise fell to the ground from that altitude.

Several themes and morals developed from the storyline, one of which is the reward for loyalty and unconditional love for family, friends and neighbours, especially at a time of need, social crisis and ethical dilemma. Also, it transpired from the plot of the story that prioritizing the long-term consequences of our actions over their corresponding quick fixes or short-term gains has enduring social benefits.

Experiences have shown that times of scarcity and economic crises often come with opportunities to unlock abundance of wealth and favour. However, to sustainably profit from the opportunities of the moment one needs to be open-minded and develop empathy in the quest for economic survival. The same invariably holds as true about building a sustainable business.

However, it is quite worrisome that during scarcity, some entrepreneurs scramble for quick fixes and opportunities to over-profit from the wave of the moment even at the detriment of their customers. This has been a major trouble with the implementation of the Naira redesign policy and its consequent Naira scarcity in Nigeria.

Most businesses or sales outlets in the country that had hitherto provided their customers with a free cashless option have now delisted that value-added service from their daily operations; rather, most of them now have an internal Point of Sales unit for customers without physical cash to make payments for their purchases, thereby forcing these helpless customers to incur additional cost.

About two weeks ago, I needed to purchase fuel from a filling station in my neighbourhood. This particular filling station sells its fuel at the rate of 350 Naira per litre. Since it was the only filling station around that sells for individuals with gallons, most customers with gallons had little options than to accept their fate indignantly. Due to the hike in fuel price, I could only afford to buy 3 litres instead of my usual 7 litres. However, I became more disconcerted when I offered to use my debit card to make payment and I was told to use a POS stand owned by the petrol station for an additional fee of 200 Naira. This has been my usual experience across many sales outlets and stores since the wake of the naira crunch since the last couple of weeks.

Generally, during economic crisis the integrity of businesses is often subjected to public scrutiny. Businesses that fare well with the test of time invariably develop goodwill and are ultimately rewarded with enduring customer loyalty. Customers observe; they understand the businesses that have their true interest at heart during crisis and they reward these businesses exceedingly when the economy is restored. It is based on the awareness of this mechanics of sustainable business development that strategic leaders double down on their corporate social services during economic crisis.

Rather than add to the problems of their existing and potential customers, forward-thinking business leaders consider how they can improve the general condition of their customers and, by extension, their host communities. This is a social investment with a long-term economic benefit.

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