Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Customer Disservice

Of recent, I've been discussing the practices of professional customer service in a mixed group and after sharing several experiences, the conlusion is that poor customer service is ubiquitious.

Customer service is a job that is meant for people who know how to keep themselves happy. It's about serving and putting others first, not the other way round. However, the lack of value for human lives, which is commonplace in communities where the demographics evidence overpopulation, has extended to the private sector. I understand it when I visit a government office or agency and the staff are ignoring my presence or providing service with a lackadaisical attitude because they are watching AfricanMagic. Afterall, they are the staff of the government. But, I find it difficult to receive the same treatment or something similar from the employees of a private establishment.

Have you ever been to one of those first generation banks to perform a banking transaction before? Well, depending on which one you visited, you would have had your own share of the half-baked customer service offered by the personnel at the customer care unit. 

Sometime ago, I was on a long queue in a Nigerian Bank waiting my turn to be served when I heard some people flair up in front. It was not a first generation bank but it was one that had merged and re-merged until something nice finally emerged. Interested in the ongoing events, I peered through the crowd across the room and discovered that the employee that was meant to be waiting on us was engaged in a casual conversation on phone. It looked like she was gossipping while we waited on our toes on a hopeless queue. But some of the customers could not tolerate it for so long. They engaged her in a abusive conversation and created a fight. Before long, she stood up and walked away. Now, to some employees, that is customer service.

The truth is, regardless of how much your pay is, once you sign up for a job, you owe the customers quality service. It is your responsibility to be happy. Whether or not you had a misunderstanding with a family member earlier on that day is not the customer's business. What they are paying for is the service and that is what they deserve. Theirs is to get their needs met and your duty is to provide the service cheerfully. And really, customer service does not include banging the phone hard on the customer to emphasise that you are busy.

How worse can customer service get? There are hospitals where the nurses tell pregnant women, "Shut up! At least, this is not your first time." There are supermarkets where the staffs hiss at you once you tell them, "Oh, this is my first time. I'm not buying anything. I'm just window shopping ahead of next week." I am even aware that there are police stations where they demand money for the Pen and A4 paper you use to write down a statement of your report. What's more? There are several places in Nigeria where people need to learn how to relate with and serve both existing and prospective customers. The video below is meant to be a joke. However, there are those who play this prank on their customers:

In any organisation, if indeed the customer pays the money that accrues to the profits, salaries and returns, then the customer should be treated like the boss.