Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You’re hungry. It’s been a long day so you stop at the first fast food spot in sight. You rush in, place your order and within moments a smiling customer service person serves you exactly what you asked for. You eat your meal, enjoy it, pay and compliment the service.
And you go home to continue living happily.
I’m sure you didn’t want to stop me because that story is so one-in-a-million – especially around fast foods – that it sounds like pure fantasy. I’m sure you thought I was going to recite another tale of woe, maybe one in which I found a beetle or cockroach in my pie or how rude the attendant was to me. That would be more familiar.
But then, should effective customer service sound like a myth?
Before I settled on my present internet service provider (whom I’ve been with for almost two years; no complaints yet), I used almost all the modems available. The one I used before the present one was provided me by a certain network, and at the beginning it was a blissful relationship. And then one fateful day, everything changed.
I cannot remember exactly what went wrong, but I recall I was trying again and again to reload my account and kept being told ‘Transaction Failed’. My money was disappearing and it wasn’t being acknowledged.
That wasn’t the worst part.
Would you believe me if I told you I kept calling their costumer care line for a week to complain to operatives who took down my details and promised to fix it and get back to me only for the same problem to continue?
After a week of that, I threw away the modem.
Let me ask those of us in Nigeria this: What has your experience at fueling stations been like in recent times?
I think we all know the answer to that one. I’m sure at moments, you would have felt so frustrated that you wondered if you were being given the fuel for free. I was at one of those sometime ago and I overheard a man complaining about the way the attendants treated him the previous week. He ended his tirade by saying: “And they say the customer is king. I guess that’s true everywhere but in Nigeria.”
I remember one of the best experiences I ever had with a customer service person. It was at one of the cinemas in Lagos. I was there with a friend to see a movie, but I had somehow gotten the schedule mixed up and was twenty minutes late for the movie. The lady was incredibly patient, putting up with me in spite of my sore-headedness, and her smile never dimmed once. She recommended, suggested and opined – and when I finally settled on what to see, I thanked her and turned to my friend: “That girl’s not going to be here long. She’s too nice.”
And I was right. I was there the following week and asked after her. I was told she’d resigned.
Good customer service is a rarity around these parts; so rare it’s almost a collector’s item. Some of the reasons why that is (according to me; not any research) is that what we have for the most part are disgruntled employees. You’d be surprised at the qualifications a lot of these service people hold, yet for varied reasons they find themselves at jobs they consider beneath them. So their attitude towards the customer is one of disdain; like “Don’t think you’re better than me o; I’m here out of circumstance”.
You’re paid to do a job. Do it to the best of your ability and shut up with the complaining. So many of us don’t understand that simple attitude goes a long way. The way we handle what we consider small isn’t that much different from how we would handle a big thing. A Yoruba saying, when interpreted to English says: It’s how you handle someone else’s thing you will handle yours.
It’s the truth; whether in Nigeria or in Timbuktu.
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