Sep 12, 2015

Customer Care: A Wake Up Call by Chika Maduakolam

Credits - Google

I am not a people person! There, I said it! You may wonder why the dramatics; simply put, it’s something I have found difficult to admit openly as most people in my immediate environment see me as a social butterfly and erroneously conclude I am very friendly. Enough said.

For those slightly acquainted with any of my previous articles, you should already be aware that I will not be making any groundbreaking discoveries or juxtaposing some highfalutin (never understood this word!) ideology to change the world; I will simply be following the course of the ramblings of my mind and the above paragraph is only prelude for the rambling of today: I weep for the state of Customer Care in Nigeria.

As we all know, it will be a grand waste of the reader’s time to go on and on about the poor state of customer service in Nigeria. It is well established in fact that we still have a long way to go in this area; anyone who disagrees must be living in a part of Nigeria I have not heard of, please feel free to send me your address so I can relocate.

I have had the privilege of veering out of legal practice for a while to meddle in the waters of Client relationship for a short long while and so I would say I am not exempt from the ire I speak of. That informs the basis for my starting paragraph; I have gotten commendation from several clients on the fact that they have been attended to in the most courteous and warm manner; as well as had their issues dealt with in a manner that has made them feel like royalty. I make no pretense of tooting my own horn but I will admit that I can be forthright enough to admit that I have not been the most stellar of client services executive either. Please, bear in mind that I am not a people person; however, it has not stopped me from doing my job to the best of my ability, no matter how limited!
Credits - Google
What I seek to do today is to call out the lawyers! Yes, the lawyers! How does this even make sense, you ask?! Simple, if lawyers braced up and started picking up the ‘cause’ of Terrible Consumer Services not only the corporate, election, land disputes, we would see a dramatic improvement in the way consumers are treated in this country, I tell you!

Follow my train of thought for a minute; A mistreated customer has a bulldog ‘festus keyamo’ type of lawyer chasing after that rude air hostess (who I happened to be a witness to such a one this past week, by the way) and sued the airline (vicarious liability), the said airline would have no choice but to lay emphasis on client facing employee conduct, making the necessary investments in training and serious internal sanctions, it would in turn, impress on said employees the importance of treating customers appropriately. See where I’m headed?

This is not to say there aren’t customers that the word ‘obnoxious’ describes and I daresay I am all for resorting to appropriate redress of such people as a last option but mind you, let this be an exception, not the norm; unless we would like to imply that majority of Nigerians are inconsiderate cads.

The call for this article arose as a few of my friends just relocated back to Nigeria and as much as I was already reveling in their expected misfortune of weather issues, economic shocks and all whatnots, the most prevalent ailment with them all was the fact that majority of the places and people from where/whom they were acquiring a service were treating them like they were beggars and not customers out to purchase goods and services. I laughed at them, to be honest, because I felt they were whining; ‘we are used to it’ as Nigerians till I thought better of the situation; no more settling for less. Do not be mistaken, the well receiving service providers in most developed countries do not love you because you are a family member; they simply know they know the value of spending needless time, effort and resources on suits from disgruntled customers.

Imagine my utter surprise at the fact that there exists an Institute for Customer Service in NIGERIA! I wonder where their members are?!
I, admittedly, worked in said field for a whole year without any affiliation to them whatsoever and majority of Nigerians, practically, every field requires client facing, so why do we not know they exist!! Not to mention that the Consumer Protection Council has laid claim to the fact that efforts have been made to create awareness on Consumer rights. Much as it is nice to find a safe haven in listing areas these 2 institutions could foster change; why don’t the agents of change leverage on the efforts made by these agents and do what they do best: Cause CHANGE!

Lawyers, over to you!

‘Law is one of the great healing professions; while Medicine heals the body and the Clergy heals the soul, the Law heals societal rifts’- Steven Keeva

By: Chika Maduakolam