Imagine yourself as the customer. You just spent your hard-earned money on a certain product/service, and now needs assistance to resolve a problem you encountered after the purchase. So, you call the company’s customer service helpline, and after minutes of listening to some ‘useless’ messages, a tired (and perhaps irritated) voice of an agent speaks to you with utter disinterest. At the end of the conversation, you are more confused and frustrated; even as your challenge persists. Now that is the typical customer service experience in Nigeria!
Let’s imagine a different scenario; you are inside a banking hall on a Monday morning trying to quickly resolve an ATM card issue before rushing back to work. Meanwhile, the customer care officer attending to you is not helping your situation. Instead, she is frowning at you as though she feels like you are disturbing her peace on an early Monday morning.
She then ignores you the entire time, pretending to type on her desktop while you wait patiently. You end up waiting longer than necessary, even as a long queue of people waiting to be attended to begins to form behind you. Eventually, she gives you a form to fill out and tells you to return two days later with a police report…
Of a truth, there are so many Nigerians who have had some terrible customer service experiences. It is safe to say that in this part of the world, the saying that ‘the customer is king’ does not apply. Bearing this in mind, therefore, Nairametrics felt it is high time we discuss this topic. Moreover, this week is Customer Service Week.
Now before we dive right into this topic, let us have a little insight into the origin and entailment of the Customer Service Week.
It dates back to 1984…
The International Customer Service Association (ICSA) established the Customer Service Week in 1984. Ever since then, the event has been celebrated annually during the first week of every October. Interestingly, the annual event is such a big deal in some parts of the world, especially in the United States of America where it received a legislative proclamation in the USA back in 1992.
On the other hand, many Nigerians, for a long time, were relatively unfamiliar with the event. But with the help of globalisation, many are getting to join in on the celebration every first week of October.
In any case, the Customer Service Week remains a great initiative which helps to shed light on the importance of an effective relationship between businesses and customers.
Customer service in Nigeria: An overview
In all fairness, the truth is that virtually every company in Nigeria is guilty of poor customer care representation. Rarely can one point to a particular industry and say with confidence that customers always receive the best form of assistance when need be.
However, for the purpose of this article, we have decided to focus on three key sectors of the economy which we feel have the worst customer service in Nigeria. Customer Service, by the way, has to do with all forms of assistance and advice availed to customers who buy and use companies’ products and services.
Top three industries with the worst customer service in Nigeria
Chances are that you already know the answer to this. But we have to say it nonetheless; below are the top three industries with the worst customer care in Nigeria:
- The banking sector,
- The telecommunication sector,
- And the power sector.
The Banking Sector: There is no gainsaying the fact that many Nigerian banks have a long way to go before they get the idea of customer service right. As a matter of fact, banks will need to continually train and retrain their employees on proper customer care practices. This is because many banks in the country have some of the worst customer care representatives in Nigeria.
I closed my GTBank account because of their contact center. Their automated response takes your time and phone credit. You spend more time listening to To recorded messages. Maybe one day these guys may realise that contact center is business critical and offer toll free numbers.
— alacrity (@kaecy5) October 4, 2018
Not only do these banks take so long to respond to customers, but they are also often impatient (if not clueless) when assisting customers to resolve their problems. Consequently, many Nigerians are already tired of them all. But apparently, they do not have a choice than to keep using them.
In a recent Twitter Poll conducted by Nairametrics, we asked our readers to tell us which bank in Nigeria offers the best customer service in the country. Unfortunately, their responses are indicative of the fact that many of these banks are guilty as charged.
There should be an option for none of the above. I have used these banks and they have bad customer service. GT & Zenith used to be good, but not anymore.
— Timothy Williams (@wiltimz) October 3, 2018
The Telecommunication sector: This is perhaps the worst sector in Nigeria. Customers experience poor care right from the moment they purchase their SIM cards. SIM registration is typically fraught with difficulties. Customers then continue to experience challenges for as long as they use such SIM cards.
Was charged 50 continuously for SMS not sent why? Just upgraded to ur 4G LTE n even the 4gig promised after upgrading has not been given to me, please reply asap my num 08028959858
— BigFish (@davades4real) September 18, 2018
One Mr Kalu described his customer service experience with Nigerian telcos thus:
“The worst part about being a mobile phone user in Nigeria is that at some point you will need to call their customer care line, waste about thirty minutes and have your challenges unresolved.”
The Power Sector: Long before the privatisation of the Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA), operators in the Nigerian power sector have always been known for ‘unpleasant’ customer service. Unfortunately, this has continued till date.
Your late acknowledgement to our SOS message is not really encouraging. We thank you anyways and await your very urgent intervention!!
— tope fowowe (@topefowowe) September 11, 2018
Now, not only is it bad that the service provided in this sector is poor, but their customer service representatives are also typically slow to respond and rude as well. This, perhaps, explains why a lot of ‘NEPA people’ are very much disliked.
I mentioned you @IkejaElectric about 2 weeks backs. Yet to get a response. These power lines have pulled of their connectors on the high tension pole. This is at plot 4 Graceland estate near Navy town Gate. Satellite town. Lagos. pic.twitter.com/ChHGnNO6Ci
— Bralador (@braladorojokojo) August 7, 2018
So why are companies typically nonchalant with effective customer service?
As one of our readers responded on our Twitter poll, some companies typically focus less attention on customer service because it is not “a source of competitive advantage” to them.
SERVICE isn't a source of competitive advantage in that sector so none strives to offer it beyond functional offerings.
Beyond SMS notifications when you transact & on your anniversary plus resolving issues when you walk into a branch there is NO relationship & service.
— Iyayi, Era Abraham (@eraiyayi) October 3, 2018
Things need to change for the better…
In conclusion, Nigerian companies, in general, need to urgently do something about the ineptitude that characterise their customer service techniques. This is very important because customer service is an all-important aspect of every business organisation which should never be trifled with.
On that note, happy Customer Service Week to everyone.