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Akpo Uyeh: Business Owners Need to Pay Closer Attention to Customer Service Delivery

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I mistakenly scratched off the numbers on my recharge card, and I had to call the customer care line to resolve the issue. After several attempts, I finally got through to a man who mumbled his name. “This is XYZ customer care, how may I help you?”

I started off by introducing myself and stated the reason for my calling. This was followed by series of personal questions relating to my number and the damaged recharge card bought.

It was annoying that after the long talk, the supposed customer care agent later referred me to visit branch office closest to me, for further assistance.

I had rushed from the close of work to beat traffic and get to XYZ office before closing hours, which was 5p.m. The tension was rising, because … TRAFFIC.

What to do next? Walk? Okada? I felt the panic building. Thankfully, the road started to clear and the bus was gradually moving. Yes!I  got down at my bus stop and phew! I still had to walk a few metres to get to my destination.

I walked into the office, two minutes before they closed. The first person I met was the security man who directed me to register my name in a log book. I told him my issue and he directed me to someone, who directed to another person and this very person directed me to another. I decided to enjoy the ride because it appeared they were entertained by my frustration and discomfiture.

I got to what appeared like the final stop and laid my complaints, and the lady seemed ready to help. But, I noticed that she was not different from the others. She had a nonchalant attitude. She was making a call in my presence, while  I stood there, without a word of apology or please kindly hold on. Her body language screamed: you have to wait until I’m done. 

I continued to exercise patience.  I told her politely that I was waiting, and what did she do in return? She pretended to not hear and was contributing to a gist, while a customer was in distress.

Now the die was cast, I could not bear it anymore. I was enraged, threatening to take my business elsewhere. After all, people like me kept them in business.

Then and only then. did the situation change. My complaints drew the attention of the manager. It was now on V.I .P level.

Why did it have to get that bad before I got the attention required? Must a customer complain and shout before the solution is provided? Why not save the customer’s time and energy to avoid any drama?

I was happy at the end that my issue was resolved, but the thought of the drama that ensued did something else to my body system.

Poor customer service delivery has become the norm in this part of the world. It is everywhere in Nigeria, every industry… It feels like nobody is paying attention to the importance of good customer service.  If a customer is not greeted by a frowning customer agent, it is the one who is politely rude and lacks manners.

I think people should exercise professionalism and not carry their problems into the workplace. Customers are the important to the success of businesses. Do organisations skip out the orientation in customer service delivery?

We complain that business is bad, have we examined probable little causes of business decline? Poor customer service delivery might just be the issue. Customer service should be practised with the right attitude and professionalism attached to its calling!

I refuse to be offended by annoying customer service delivery, there would always be other better alternatives so organisations should please take note and do the needful.

Photo Credit: © Roman Samborskyi | Dreamstime.com

11 Comments

  1. Sherlie Holmes

    February 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    This right here is the gospel truth! Lack of CS in Nigeria is a MAJOR problem.

  2. Blessing O

    February 26, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Poor customer service being the norm in Nigeria is unfortunately accurate. I work in e-commerce so I deal with customers on a daily basis. It gas taken conscious effort, training and retraining to remain courteous and professional regardless of how I am feeling. It’s just not in our nature as Nigerians to be polite to others unless the person is richer, they can help you or they can threaten our means of livelihood. It’s very unfortunate. It starts from our upbringing at home and in schools. I accompanied my younger sister to her friend’s house and their nanny/maid greeted my sister “Good afternoon Ma”, then she looked at me and said “Welcome”. I wasn’t as well dressed as my sister but I’m older and I look older. The madam of the house was there but said and did nothing. I just smiled and told my sister later to train her nanny.
    Personally I think consequence management is lacking. How many times has the salon lady, nanny, restaurant lady, customer service agent, nurse, teacher or sales girl been sanctioned for being rude to a customer or client? More often than not, they KNOW they will get away with it perhaps because the business owner has no manners himself or herself.

    • tunmi

      February 26, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      You don talk am.

      “It’s just not in our nature as Nigerians to be polite to others unless the person is richer, they can help you or they can threaten our means of livelihood.”

  3. Yeye

    February 26, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    To me, it seems like these people like seeing customers really mad. You know what customer service entails yet you signed up for it, so there’s no reason to be so lackadaisical about your work. My best customer service experience has been from a pastry shop. I was so moved that I had to share the unique experience.

  4. 3ples

    February 26, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    They don’t care….mediocrity has become a norm….”make we manage am, na so dem be”….. yet we expect a change we don’t demand for.

  5. o

    February 26, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Funny thing is when you raised your voice and speak sternly, they say you’re a troublesome person. Customer service is seriously lacking in most offices in Nigeria. Even at the hospital level, it’s crap. Non existent

  6. Akara Pancake

    February 26, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Customer service in Nigeria has not been the same since the 80s. Back in the day, the good folk at the shoe store chain Bata (laterFamad ) had the most professional attendants who helped you pick and try mountains of shoes and sandals if need be, until you walked out of the branch, smiling with your purchase. That was then.

    Is it not even more ridiculous how store attendants always try to make you look like you shouldn’t want what you are inquiring about? You ask for a product, and they sort of snicker under their breath like, do you still use that product “wey no dey reign” or they look at you like do not know what you are saying and should be asking for something else. Or they try to impose their will on your tastes. I will illustrate:

    My friend Lulu and I went to a place popular for their rice and stew to eat. The owner of the spot (let’s call her Madam de Madam) usually liked to take the orders from customers and serve the meals herself. Great stuff. Now Lulu was on some kind of fitfam diet to reduce her oil intake so asked Madam de Madam to bring only white rice for her and no stew at all, plus some fish pepper soup. She intended to use the broth from the pepper soup to eat the white rice she had ordered. I was on no such diet, so I ordered rice, stew and all the peperempes – shaki, roundabout, cowleg, dried fish, diced dodo, moi moi with a feature from beans. The woman brought my order first and it was piping hot! Lulu reminded the woman again, that she just wanted white rice, with no stew. The woman nodded in understanding.

    Fifteen minutes later, Madem de Madam brought Lulu’s order – it had stew on it, in fact a Lekki flood portion of stew! Lulu was shocked and very upset. She asked the woman “Are you kidding me?! Why the hell did you put stew on the food? I didn’t want any. I wanted plain rice which I was going to eat with some of your table ketchup!”

    The woman was defiant as she replied in pigeon, not even pidgin: “The food come dry somehow without stew na. How you go de shop (chop) rice like that? Abeg jor”

    The woman had probably decided that she was going to add the stew from the get go as she was upset that someone didn’t want to sample her specialty. Somehow I don’t see her throwing only rice at the couple at weddings

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      February 26, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Esco, even if you decided to maintain the decision to close down your blog, at least give us the pleasure of reading regularly from you through other mediums, na. Why you no wan write for BN again, my bros? See as you, Isio & Atoke just forget us 🙁

  7. Bibobrah

    February 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for this Akpo. Just treating people nicely and with respect would go a long way. thank you for writing this. kudos!

  8. Aare farmland

    February 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    It is the fault of the management or owner. If the owner is interested in delivering the right kind of service, an environment that promotes quality service will be created. The hiring process will try to find the right fit and continuous training and monitoring will be the norm. Employee welfare is also important, keeping the employee happy through incentives and bonuses is also a plus. But the truth is the mission of businesses in Nigeria is to only make money and therein lies the problem. Every business or most are created to make money but the best also focus on providing an easier way to live, making life more easier and providing total marketing value. We do not provide necessary mental/emotional, physical value in our businesses, alot focus on pricing but a total experience is minimal. Also the country itself constraints the emotional/mental/health value you can provide to a customer because of stress. It is hard to get a good total experience when an agent is not in the right mental, emotional or physical shape.
    We need to love and understand each other.

    Airline and farmland safety initiative.

  9. Bobosteke

    February 27, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I believe that customer care has gone beyond a job title or a nameplate on a table. Everyone is a customer care officer of the Organization they work for. The way you talk about your workplace, the way you discuss challenges you are facing with clients and with other people, the kind of products you sell, your competitors, is an advert for your workplace one way or the other.

    Some people talk about the bad rep they are getting. Ask yourself and your staff what they say about the jobs to their spouses, siblings, church/ mosque members, at owanbes, hangouts, saloon, barbershop, or on the bus. People have ears and they hear even when they are not listening and you will get quoted within and out of context.

    It’s everybody’s job to ensure that they say positive things about their organisations, but nobody wants to fake anything. Employers should provide a positive and professional environment to work in and be proud of. Amebo’s, Debbie downers, and petty miserable people, excepted of course.?

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