It is a fact, entrepreneurship and venturing into your own business is not for the fainthearted. Even if we did not believe it in the past, rise and grind twitter will not allow us hear word.
Stepping out and starting your own business and running an organization takes a lot of mental energy, dedication, and commitment, as well as a clear understanding of business environment. The advent of social media has made venturing into your own business and reaching your target audience so much easier. These days, almost everyone is an entrepreneur. The mere act of posting on your social media page alone is branding.
Anyone interacting with customers through any medium, is a customer care representative. Be it through answering calls, assisting customers, or handling direct messages on social media platforms. The process of interacting with customers down to delivery, is customer service. Customer service is extremely important because it unknowingly has the power to make or break your business and brand.
The problem with customer service in Nigeria is, it is essentially non-existent. We see it on a daily basis with incidents of car service providers threatening to drop and actually dropping riders in the middle of their trips, nurses slapping patients, civil service officers abandoning customers to go for lunch, shop attendants and customer care representatives displaying an offensive attitude when you make mention of their nonchalant demeanor, vendors publicly fighting with customers online and in some institutions, business managers having open screaming matches with customers.
A vast majority of Nigerian business owners are only interested in selling and making profit, not serving. Unknown to them, excellent customer service is a vital tool in ensuring their profits increase and their businesses stay alive and flourish.
I’m certain that in most Nigerian companies, there is no protocol or etiquette for customer service representatives to follow on how to work through issues that may arise with customers, while maintaining the good name and image of a brand. The lack of education and orientation leads to the terrible customer service we experience in Nigeria today.
These are some problems a few Nigerians have highlighted regarding customer service in the country:
“It Is The Disrespect For Me”
Nigeria’s customer service is notorious for their ‘go to hell’ attitude. If you have to resort to involving the manager or calling the customer service number, you must be ready to chop insult. The entitlement of some customer care representatives is mind blowing. We understand that some customers like to showcase their werey, but these representatives love to show they can be twice as tall.
No matter how annoying a customer is, it is still in your job description to maintain your cool at all times as it is highly unprofessional to carry your personal frustrations from other clients as well as your personal life into your job, particularly when dealing with customers. I wonder what ever happened to the saying, ‘The Customer is King’.
“I Want To Be Able To Review And Rate The Service As Well, Not Just The Product Being Sold”
A lot of business owners in Nigeria, both on and offline, disregard the rating and review of their service. They are only concerned about the product being sold. In today’s world, just selling “original products” is no longer enough. The nature of your customer service is what will reel customers in. I mean, who does not want to be treated like their patronage matters? The impression your business leaves on customers through your customer service should be top priority because word of mouth is important. If you’re rude, disrespectful or nonchalant to a customer, they are likely to tell someone they know or even tweet about it, and that’s how news travels. Before you know it, bad news is going around about your business.
“We Need Better Payment Systems; Bank Transfers Can Be Problematic”
Some problems that transpire between customers and vendors usually arise over money disagreements, especially means of payment. It is either their POS system is not working, or they do not accept transfers.
For some, even where they accept transfers the customer is forced to wait until the vendor receives the alert. In some other cases, they will tell you the person who receives alerts is not in the store and so your transfer is as good as useless. Let us not even get into the disputes that occur due to ‘no change’ when making cash payments. Multiple debits when paying via POS channels and transfer reversals which is no fault of the customer nor the vendor, but simply a lapse on the part of the bank, is another kettle of fish. This goes to show that improved payment methods will greatly aid customer care delivery system in Nigeria.
“The ‘If You Don’t Buy, Someone Else Will’ Mentality Is A Problem”
Customer service representatives in Nigeria really know how to take the humility out of service. They are quick to get defensive when questions are asked and are not afraid to flip you off because in their words ‘they do not need your money before they eat’. This shows how much regard they have for their customers. They fail to realize that one bad referral from an unsatisfied customer may be all it takes to crumble a once thriving business. There is power in referrals, it is important not to disregard or take for granted the kind of impression your business / brand have and leave on your customers through your customer service.
“How Can Customer Service Be Anything But Helpful?”
I like to call this ‘the irony of customer service’ in Nigeria. Have you ever been embarrassed at the cash register at a supermarket because the aisle attendant told you your card was declined while looking at you judgingly? Or after calling the customer care number of your bank or internet service provider multiple times, and the issue was still unresolved? We all have had those experiences whether in the supermarket, on the phone with our service providers, while direct messaging our dearly beloved Instagram stores or even at the bank where customer service was anything but helpful.
Much like the ‘let me just manage it’ mentality in our present Nigerian society, consumers are settling for less and have decided to just manage it in the customer care sector. New businesses spring up each day, thanks to social media, but what people don’t understand is, it is no longer enough to just sell ‘original products’. Branding, qualitative and excellent customer service is what will help your brand stand out amongst the multitude. Business owners need to educate themselves and their staff on the importance of excellent customer service if they want their businesses to thrive and stand the test of time, while we as Nigerians need to begin to demand for better service delivery in all areas of our business transactions.