Have you ever told your friends that their product quality could do with some improvement, or tried to correct them on their less-than-standard customer relations? How did they take it? Ahhh, did it go down well? Are you still friends with them? Did they cut you off because you bring “bad vibes”? If not, you’re lucky. For a lot of people, that is not the case.
‘Everybody’ wants to do business, but most people don’t want to shoulder the responsibilities that come with doing business – especially in terms of getting feedback and reviews and taking ownership of faults and flaws.
So many Nigerian business owners get offended and defensive when you tell them you don’t like the way they attended to you or that their product or service is terrible. They automatically interpret it as you hating on them or trying to bad-mouth their business. If you are a friend or family member to the vendor, then be ready to hear words like ‘jealous’ and ‘envious’ flung at you.
We’ll come back to business owners later.
There’s something about Nigerians and our unwillingness to give bad reviews or condemn certain things that are wrong when the wrongdoer is our family, friends or is related to us in any way. We also have the knack to manage things until it gets to a point where we cannot manage it anymore.
Nepotism and favoritism are so ingrained in our DNA that it reflects in even the slightest situation.
For instance, take a look at the political scene. Many people vote their candidate of choice, not really based on competence, but because the candidate is from their hometown or village, or is from the same tribe and speaks the same language.
An average Hijabi would patronize another Hijabi because ‘they are the same’. Many Christians will also patronize their ‘brother or sister in the Lord’. While there is nothing wrong with this, patronizing business owners or vendors based on sentiments or sabisabi makes it very difficult for you to call them out (or sue them) when they render terrible services.
Many Nigerians also want to be nice and play the devil’s advocate by giving businesses good reviews even when they know it is bad. “If I talk now, they will say I’m a bad person”, “won’t I be spoiling the person’s business if I speak up? Let me just pity him”.
Some employees will never report their colleague who is fond of harrassing other people at work because “he has 3 wives and 25 children at home, if I report him and they fire him, what will his wife and kids eat?”. There’s so much mediocrity in our labour force, especially in civil service, because no one is reporting anyone or giving bad reviews. That is why a civil servant who earns 150,000 monthly can have fleets of cars and mansions and nobody will question him/her. “Don’t ask me, it is God that did it”. Which God?
No one wants to be seen as the bad person. There’s also the belief that ‘no one knows tomorrow’, so if you give a bad review today and the person ‘blows’ tomorrow, you will not have the ‘mouth’ to approach the person. This does not have to be so. We cannot demand accountability and have a strong and standard labour force if everyone is being dishonest or scared to talk.
Of course, this does not erase the roles religion and ethnicity play. Infusing religious and tribal sentiments waters down the whole idea of quality services. Once you beg that meat seller to sell more meat to you because “we are both Muslims”, you have no moral justification to give him a bad review.
It is this same spirit, mindset, and attitude that makes us slot the names of our friends and family members into any job opening when we know that they are clearly incompetent. This same mindset will not let you condemn that minister who is chopping us dry because you are from the same state.
For how long are you going to condone mediocrity and substandardness because you don’t want to offend anybody or be in their black book?
Business owners, back to you.
Many business owners don’t want to accept the truth about their products and services. There’s a belief that those who criticize you are haters or those who complain about your business are doing so out of envy. It is not always the case. As a business owner, you should be able to recognize the difference between criticisms and condemnation. It is absolutely unnecessary – and childish – for someone to lay a complaint about your services and then you say “you think it is easy to run a business, go and start your own na“. Not everybody will be a business owner, but everyone can recognize when your services are awful. Accept it, apologize and move on!
It is the customer’s right to demand quality services as long as they pay for it. It is their right to give you bad reviews if your services are bad and it is their right to demand accountability. Don’t manipulate people into giving you reviews that you did not work for. It’s time to kill all these “you do this kain thing for me? And you are my padipadi” narratives. In the world we live in today, mediocrity cannot be excused, especially in the Labour force. We can’t even afford that in Nigeria – not when the whole world is leaving us behind. If you’re not ready to provide good services, then shift and give room for those who need to have their voices heard in the business sphere. Stop taking space.
A lot of Nigerians have a long way to go in changing their mindsets. Stop managing and start demanding for accountability. Demanding for your right does not make you a bad person! If there’s a business with awful services and customer care, boycott them – they will learn afterwards. Don’t manage. Don’t settle.
It is our manage manage that has brought this country to its knees. We have been managing our politicians for decades, see where it has landed us.
Shebi you’re paying for it? (if you are the type who demands awoof from friends and family, biko shift) then demand accountability!