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Onyinye O: Customer Service Delivery + Good Products = Loyalty & Referrals



dreamstime_l_31638101Some days ago, I happened to be at a certain store with my sister to get a variety of things (which I was doing) but then, I was starving and weak. I had been out all day and still had other things to achieve so before a sister would break down (all because of no food), I branched off to their food section.

Now, a funny incident occurred: I was standing and waiting for the guy serving to finally “judge” that it was my turn to be served but that never happened. Instead, he kept on attending to other people – all of who came after me and he didn’t deem it necessary to say, “I’ll be with you shortly” or as most Nigerians will say “please I’m coming”.

This story got even more interesting to me (after all, I had become more or less a spectator there), when this lady walks up there (and she’s obviously a staff, because she was wearing their uniform), calls out to one of the attendants in Hausa. The attendant comes out, gives her all she orders and walks away leaving all of us- THE CUSTOMERS- unattended to. While all this was happening, my stomach was still being neglected and started clamouring for more attention.

To cut the long story short, after complaining and shouting off to the guy who had been neglecting the honourable presence of yours truly, me, he finally came my way (and I couldn’t have been happier.) Then, he turned and began to take the order of the person beside me and I said to myself “Onyinye, don’t go all out on him right now. Please don’t” and then I kept my cool. Please give me your eyes here, I’m going somewhere with this.

Now this person ordering happened to be requesting for the exact item I was eyeing and drooling over. I politely complained and when Mr-I-Know-What-I’m-Doing was done, I enthusiastically started giving him my order only to see him answering someone else AGAIN; now that was the peak of it all. It even got worse when I heard the person say “please give me 5 of that. In short, give me everything you have there!”.

Ah! My heart just melted- it felt like sugar cubes which cold water had just been poured on. With anger (in my heart), I just walked down to the store’s payment counter with my trolley (while lamenting), and said to the attendant “I don’t want the things in it anymore”. Immediately after which I proceeded straight on to their direct competition in the same shopping mall (unfortunately, they don’t sell food) to do my groceries shopping. And actually, I have always preferred this one cause they are way nicer and they treat customers better.

Did I mention there were 2 other people who were in my shoes too? We had all been waiting forever! My issue really is, this wasn’t a one-off incidence; I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Whenever I experience or hear tales such as this, it saddens me. Honestly. I just can’t help but wonder how communication can be so hard.

When will Nigerian businesses get it? When will we understand that: great customer service + great communication + good products/services rendered= LOYALTY and REFERRALS?

As far as I’m concerned, when customers are happy and satisfied, they’ll keep coming back but when the opposite is the case, they’ll not just ditch you but be sure there would be no referrals and like it or not, “word of mouth” goes a long way.

A friend of mine gave me the gist of how she went to a certain bank to open a corporate account. After making inquiries at the customer service desk, she said “ok then, I’ll be back” and the lady who attended to her laughed. When she asked what was funny and the lady said “you and I both know you aren’t coming back”. When she said that to me, I was dazed. A customer service staff member at a bank actually said that? Hmmm. Na wa o! Needless to say, I took that information on board and made a subconscious note to ensure I never opened an account with that bank as this wasn’t even the first time I was hearing someone complain about the attitudes of their staff members.

Attitude in business is“the koko”.

Recently, I’ve had reason to do business with a certain big and popular hotel here in Abuja but what was surprising to me was how poor their communication and customer service was. I actually said to their manager “if the choice was mine and I had other alternatives, I wouldn’t even consider you guys anymore”. People need to realise that there is a thing called “recommendation”. If there was a friend who asked what their service is like, I’ll definitely be quick to say “crappy” and run them down and that wouldn’t be because I want to run their business down but actually, because I’m being blunt and honest.

All I’m trying to say is, we need to pick up the ball in Nigeria. Are there a few businesses getting it right? Of course. But more are getting it wrong and it’s gotten so bad- to the extent that when someone is being nice (while doing the job) around here, we begin to feel there’s something fishy going on. Sone people even find themselves saying thank you a million and one times just because someone is doing his or her job the way it ought to be done.

But hey, I would rather go to a place where I’m made to feel like my money is valued and I’m treated nicely than go to a place where it’s “if you like buy, if you like don’t buy. We’ll still be successful with or without you”. We humans want to be valued; ALWAYS. Make your customers feel valued and they’ll keep coming back.

Bellanaijarians thoughts? Please put them down in addition to your experiences- bad or good. Adios compradres.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Onyinye is a media junkie, beauty enthusiast, realist and aspiring team fitfam champion who glides through life believing that every experience is a learning curve. When she's not working, reading or sleeping, she's constantly typing away on her computer. Get interactive with her. Email: [email protected] Twitter : @theonyinye. Instagram: @beautifulonyinye_.


  1. Chika

    May 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    This writer just said something that has been on my mind. Even today, something happened and i just shook my head. Imagine going to a network provider’s office and after waiting 3 hours for my turn, someone came a collected my form and said that i should just come back because the person to attend to me closed 30 minutes ago. What arrant nonsense!!!!! I’m so porting.To think I’ve been a loyal customer pumping in my money to their yeye network, even participating in all these their promos. Tofia.

  2. Ajala & Foodie

    May 11, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    We complain all the time about bad customer service yet who are the people “dishing out” this terrible customer service??? I know many people will come here and talk about their negative experiences and I can give mine too but at the end of the day the buck stops with both you and me. We have a culture that is anti good customer service. like the author pointed out when you go to an establishment with good customer we begin to look for the proverbial “shoe drop”. Or we take our rude anti good customer service selves and exploit the establishment or respond with our cliche “do you know who I am ?” attitude when asked to wait our turn, causing said establishment to go ahead and join the masses with rude and terrible customer service. I remember going to the bank and yea the teller was not going out of her to be nice or rude, that is, she was not doing anything remarkable but as I watched everybody go up to her with faces looking like they were ready for battle and some had the attitude to go with it, Not one said a word of thanks after their transaction was completed. Yes, some might say she was just doing her job but my point is it is the same battle ready attitude and lack of gratitude we take to our own businesses which is what bad customer is. I.e we don’t appreciate our customers, we take them for granted and believe we are doing them a favor by offering them our services, and we have then we have bad customers. The point of my rant is it is a cycle, you leave the grocery store for your banking position and do the same thing and everyone comes back pointing fingers. I think the problem with us is that we want to be treated better than we treat others and that is what our romance with bad customer service has a society comes down to.

  3. le coco

    May 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    . i must say that i honestly havent received terrible customer service in Nigeria… i find that most establishments have been generally kind and polite…

    But i have been to other African countries that actually make me applaud Nigerian service.. AHhh.. some people truly think they r doing you a favour… some wont even be bothered to actually ring the items being bought but will be jisting with their friends.

    I have been to a place where i saw about 3 accident victims coming in a stretcher.. Gushing blood… and the paramedics and nurses had zero sense of urgency.. they were jisting about their lunch plans whilst slowly strolling these victims into the hospital.. In front of everyone.. i was stunned….

    That being said, customer service is a huge part of my job… and that is why i am particularly unforgiving about poor service.. because, We all have bad days, we all have issues… but it is never an excuse to not do your job.. if the day is so bad or the issue is so troubling.. then please call in sick.. I HAVE NEVER been rude, or unhelpful to a customer.. so much so that i get messages form my bosses mentioning that.. so and so customer came in today just to look for me.. and just to say that i was so kind to them, and that i do a great job… this is so humbling to hear that about someone like me .. because i am honestly not much of a smiler, or a happy-chappy person.. BUT ON THE JOB.. i have to put in the effort.. and if i can fake a smile.. so can EVERYONE ELSE

  4. Pipi

    May 11, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I just got married…. I saw vendors with horrible customer service, in fact am writing an article on this !!

    • le coco

      May 11, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      pls write.. Nd hint at these vendors.. We will decipher the rest.. hehe

  5. Sai sai

    May 11, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    There is no justification for having a bad attitude, so what if no one told the teller thank you? , u wouldn’t believe what a smile on her face would accomplish..service providers need to get one thing straight, they are in business or getting paid because of you and I the my former boss would alwayz say, leave all your troubles at the door before you enter into the office..yes I know some customers are sent from hell, but a soft answer turns away wrath..when these service providers notice you are giving them attitudes, they would want to best you in your game..well guess what we are the reason you get your salary, if we dint patronise you guys, your businesses would fold up.
    Show me any shop or business with excellent customer services that isn’t doing well in Nigeria today?.alwayz smile while attending to customers .it’s easy you should all try it!

  6. Ajala & Foodie

    May 11, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    @ Sai Sai, now if you read my entire rant you’d know that :
    1) I never said the teller had a bad attitude, lack of a smile does not equal an attitude.
    2) I never justified s/he’s lack of a smile I.e never said it was ok for him/her not to smile due to people’s ingratitude.
    3) Lastly and most importantly, the message I was trying to pass across with that story is to point out that it is a cycle; we go about with a “ready to battle” attitude and that affects our attitude in business, like I said who are these people dishing out the bad customer services??? It is YOU And ME, if it is not the bank, it is the telecommunication company, it is your old school officers when you go to request your documents, it is NEPA people, it is US!!!!! when our clients or vendors come to our office to transact business and we keep them waiting even after they have made an appointment because we believe we are doing them a favor. Even to how we treat our helps at home, we fail to realize that if we treat our gateman, our helps be it nanny or cook as we would want to be treated maybe some would not be as problematic, even if they have to move on they will not hesitate to recommend someone else. Like I said earlier our romance with bad customer stems from us constantly trying to pass the blame and insisting on being treated better than we treat others. You want that person to smile while attending to you, have you smiled at anyone yourself???? I don’t wait for anyone to offer me a smile if I have to talk to you I am approaching you with a smile. What we fail to realize is that customer service is not about the “job or business” but the way we view and treat all humans so really, customer service is a way of life. We can keep complaining about bad customer service which is still very prevalent in our culture or begin to discuss the solution and we begin by taking responsibility and consciously be the change we seek in others.

  7. chachadee

    May 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    I really don’t understand it anymore, some actually go as far as shouting at you….. Yep some woman did that to me and I was baffled and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t complete my mission, I didn’t go back and I also talked to my friends about and the basic answer was ” who send you , Abi you no know those people?……

  8. nene

    May 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    When will Nigerian businesses get it? This is the question. With customer service, i give them a piece of my mind, or i walk away and refuse to purchase whatever products offered if the service is bad

    • Susan

      May 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      This is the general problem with Nigerians, they think every bad thing happens in Nigeria and Nigeria alone. I live in Toronto, and I’ve experienced extremely bad customer service severally with tech companies, fast food chains, grocery shops, fashion retail outlets you name it. Totally rude staffs/reperesentatives. It happens everywhere sadly.

  9. May

    May 11, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    The worst is when they tell you in the ‘rudest manner that they don’t have change and expect you to find it for them.

    • Christian Sister

      May 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

      OMG I mean!!!! The absolute worst. And the way they’ll look at you after, expecting you to leave the change like its nothing. Sorry o, but I’ll wait here till you find that change.

  10. Ebony

    May 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t know how else to contact Say Cheese Cakes. I’ve tried
    Lovely yummy creative cakes!!! But crappppppy customer service. Not once.
    Please train your staff on customer service or employ new people

  11. Dora

    May 12, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    My only reaponse to this is that ‘Nigeria’ is a jungle located in a bigger jungle called ‘Africa’. Everyone is hostile, angry and are ALWAYS ready to attack or take advantage of u. Be nice as a customer service giver and they will absuse it and take advantage; hence u involuntarily get hardened and not care anymore. Be nice as a reciever of service and u will be overlooked, taken for granted or even pushed away by ur counterparts who want d same service. Its just a vicious cycle; Only God knows who can break!!! I came to nigeria for lawschool, from d 1st day i stepped my feet,i just found myself slowly becoming an angry person and by d end of that year, i had become a n ugly angry nigerian. I van only reflect on this now becz i have left the war front (jungle Nigeria)…… Space and time wont allow me to explain more why i became this unrecognizable person. But i can summarize it to bad customer service. From getting my reg number to getting accommodation to getting exam number till registering at the supreme court after graduation was a fight and a struggle. Even on local flights, the female attandants have passed me by 2ice not asking me what i would like to have but would ask everyone else around me. And when i would nicely drwa their attention that i was skipped, they would rudely toss me the snacks. Or is the rude attendants at next grocery store. Or is it when i wen i went to do bank registeration or sim registeration. In fact, let me jist stop coz i cant say enough but the summary is that NIGERIA IS A JUNGLE AND INLY THE FITTEST SURVIVE!!!!!!

  12. Puzzles

    May 12, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    When i travelled to work with a client, I went to a hotel Hotel A. The moment I came down from the car, a porter greeted me and took my bag to the reception. The receptionist was so nice and polite and I was given a glass of juice as I checked in and the porter carried my bag to the hotel.

    However,, I decided to leave the hotel because I felt it was too far from my client’s office so I checked out and moved to Hotel B that was closer, well known and had a fine website. The moment I came down from the care, I got a rude shock. There was no porter to carry my bag and the security people and receptionist treated me like they were doing me a favour.

    To cut the long story short, I checked out the next day and moved back to Hotel A where I stayed till my job in town was over.

  13. ayo Dawodu

    May 13, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    It is experiences like this that motivates us to do what we do.

    Only if those businesses know the value of one loyal customer.

    Only if they knew it would cost them 5 times more to get you back as a customer than what it would have cost to keep you. 5 times more. let that sink in.

    It doesn’t have to be so.

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