Is Customer God ?

Hi dear nomads. Today, I would like to talk to you about a subject that matters to me. I’ve been thinking about it for a little long time and I think it really needs to be discussed. As a nomad and a traveler, but also as an entrepreneur, I saw little few countries in Africa, United States and in Asia. The cold truth is: we don’t have the same concept of “customer”. So, in that frame, I would like to talk about the mindset that Malagasy people have, of what a “customer” is according to our values, but also what a “customer” is, in other countries.

How do we treat customers in Madagascar?

I may sound judgmental here, even if I’m Malagasy, but I have to say this: we don’t treat our customers right, here, in Madagascar. And yes, “treating someone right” is very subjective, but when I’m saying we don’t treat customers right, here, it’s because we really don’t! Like, not at all!

I’ve googled to see how to treat customers right, and it happens that we can get a million of answers about it. It depends on the location, the mindset, the writer, but, even though, these 5 points were in common:

  • Respect
  • Professionalism
  • Kindness and courtesy
  • Patience
  • Smile.

In Madagascar, I would say that 90% of the hotels, restaurants, shops, guest houses, and any public places, don’t have these. And I’m not oversaying it. Many feedbacks from foreigners who came here on the internet are saying that, and I can see the same on my pages and accounts on social networks.

And yes, we tend to say that Malagasy people have the “sense of hospitality”. And that’s true, at least, partially… It also depends on the guest. I won’t be welcomed as a “white” foreigner, for example. Yes, we have that culture here, but I don’t want to talk a lot about this.

I want to talk more about the non-professionalism and the lack of respect. These are the worst here, from my opinion. Mostly in Provinces.

For example, if you are entering a shop or a restaurant, vendors don’t even take a look at you, mostly if you don’t look “vazaha”(1). They will wait for you to tell them what you want.

If you’re in a restaurant, the waiters will never know what meal is already unavalaible, they will also have to make you wait and ask at the kitchen before giving you a correct answer. Sometimes, you have to wait 15 minutes to know that what you ordered was not avalaible on the menu anymore.

Also, Malagasy people don’t know how to say “No”. So, if you are asking something, they will always say “yes”, but then, won’t come back. All of these are really frustrating, and you‘d better be prepared to it.

Sometimes, you may also experience very angry operators on the phone, mostly at the end of the day. We are not always kind.

That being said, some public places are great, they are just rare. Most of people would be more on the “pays du moramora”(2) mindset. As I said upper, most of people won’t take their responsibility and will just ask you to calm down and “take it easy”.

In summary, for Malagasy people, the “customer is not God”, and not even the king, but some are trying to be professional and to give a great experience to their customers.

I’m inviting you to check the hotels and restaurants list on my website, and to comment here or to get in touch with me if you need to know more about the place. In case you’re afraid to have bad experiences.

What I saw abroad, particularly in Asia…

For those who are Asians or who have already traveled in Asia, they already know what I’m going to talk about. It’s like we were not living on the same planet.

In fact, even the expression “Customer is God” is from an Asian country: Japan. The corresponding Japanese proverb says “okyakusama wa kamisama desu”. The word customer (kyakusama) expresses particular respect and veneration.

When I was in Bali, I really experienced that. Every time I entered in a shop, a restaurant, or any public place, the staff were always so welcoming and caring. I’ve never felt like that before, not even in USA, and believe me, the USA people are very welcoming and are also treating you as a king. But in Asia, it is another level.*

People are taking care of you like if you were their … Gods, literally. You can ask anything, say anything, do anything, they will never lose their kindness, their courtesy and their smile. That doesn’t mean you can treat them any way you want, that would be disrespectful.

Actually, they respect you so much you don’t want to do anything to bother them. What I can say is that, anywhere you are, it feels really great and you feel at home. Even on a taxi cab. You don’t have to say them anything, they are responsible and very professional.

From the driver to the CEO, everybody has a visit card. And they are always on time. If some delays are expected, they are telling you so early that there will be delays, with all their apologies, that you even ask yourself if it’s not too early to announce a delay. xD

So, as I said, another planet.

I also marked that in the whole African continent, that notion of professionalism and respect is about to be revised. I had a lot of bad experiences in Kenya and South Africa also, in 2016 and 2020.

If you have anything to say about the Customer experience in Madagascar or anywhere else, you can comment here or get in touch with me . I’m eager to read your adventures.

Write to you soon, dear nomads. 🙂

(1)“vazaha”: A word to define white people, mostly Europeans and Americans
(2)”pays du moramora”: A Malagasy expression to say “The country of the moramora”

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