Saturday, March 24, 2018

Poor Customer Service in Nigeria: The Enemy of Progress


I know the title of this article will appall you, but you will agree with me that the supposed “Customer Service” we receive from firms in Nigeria has been below par. Being polite and friendly, is a basic expectation for employees serving-customers. It does not cost anything and is not a skill that needs to be trained. So why do we still receive unfriendly Customer Service in Nigeria over and over again?

The world celebrates the International Customer Service Week between 1st and 11th of October every year, but this year, it will be between the 5th and 9th of October. However, before this year’s celebration, I know a lot of us cannot wait to air our minds on this issue, as virtually every parastatal in Nigeria has one way or another, trampled on the rights of the Nigerian customer; the customer relationship law which states that, “the customer is always right”, is no longer active, as these firms, see themselves as doing their clients a favour, even when the client may be on his or her right. To me however, this is injustice, as customers are mostly treated according to their “pocket size”, with those who have money to spend or spare, enjoying better customer service.

There is hardly a firm in Nigeria today, who can truly claim to treat her clients equally. These firms range from private to pulic parastatals, government bodies e.g the Nigeria Police, tertiary institutions, hospitals, fire service department, property firms or owners, banks, even public buses etc to name a few. The polite attitude which a customer deserves is no longer there and many a time, we are grateful to even get some friendly attention from individuals in such firms, for good service, which on normal bases is rightfully ours.

Just few days ago, MTN blocked my line and that of two other friends, their reason, that we failed to register our lines within the given period of registration by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC). It was quite funny though, because I had registered my line twice before the deadline, the first time was at a local kiosk, while the second time was in MTN Office,Yes! MTN office in Ibadan, Ring Road to be precise. I had gone to retrieve my line, when the MTN staff attending to me, told me my line was not properly registered and asked if I could spare a little time more to get it done properly, which I did. Could it be that with its large database, MTN still could not store all the details of its customers properly? I mean the NCC directive lasted for over a year, which gives them time to go through their database, and invite those who are yet to register their lines over to do so.They are not the only culprit’s, as Airtel also sent out messages to my siblings, asking them to come register their already registered lines. More so, these telecommunication firms have unfortunately, turn our mobile phones into a market place or advertising agency, where they send unsolicited text messages or call at will, not minding the client’s state of mind or mood before infringing on his/her privacy.

I remember walking into a leading Nigerian bank in Lagos recently, the banking hall was jam packed, I patiently stood in line of a long queue waiting to be attended to. In a few minutes I could feel the tension of people in line who were not satisfied with the way and manner the cashiers were attending to their job, right there a drama ensued. A lady who was being attended to couldn’t take the sluggishness of the reps, she started to voice out her displeasure, soon enough everybody joined in, the way and manner they went about their work didn’t show any regard for the customers waiting in line; a few more bruhaha’s and the manager had to come settle issues and pacify customers which in my opinion wasn’t impressive or professional at all but people just compromised to allow peace reign.


Every government office you walk into today, you notice the SERVICOM poster on the wall or door. These poster means a lot more, although many staff may claim ignorance of the objectives and principles of SERVICOM. Some of these principles are as follow:

– Dedication to deliver services to which citizens are entitled, timely, fairly, honestly, effectively and transparently.
– Conviction that Nigeria can only realize her full potential if citizens receive prompt and efficient services from the state.

Some objectives includes;
– Learn the principles, ideals and tenets of Service Delivery in Government Establishments.
– Assist the Staff to understand the need for Service Excellence
– Assist staff to take personal responsibility for customer satisfaction

Unfortunately, Corruption and a wrong mindset of service has smeared the Nigerian system, as many customer service reps think their position gives them a right of ownership, a position where they can take advantage of someone who needs help. You almost can’t get anything done in Government owned firms today without “shaking your body” (bribing or giving something), even the gate man wants to use his power as a gateman for personal benefit, in cases where they have no choice they call customers different names, “chairman”, “my oga”, “wetin dey for the boys”, “drop something for the weekend” etc. Corruption has reduced many people to beggars, all in the name of poor pay or delayed salary. I remember going to the National Open University of Nigeria to get my transcript, after spending three good days going to the headquarters in Victoria Island, I was finally able to get it signed and stamped. Just on my way out of the office, I met a staff who did nothing for me but still wanted me to “wash my result for her” (celebrate my good grades with money), I had to part ways with N500, because of her persistence. However, just inside the lift, going down to the ground floor, I overheard some students complaining of how they were mandated to come with a carton of malt-drink each, before they can do their final clearance at the Ibadan study center, of the Open University. These list of injustice done to students by government institutions, is one too many as some lecturers even go as far as sleeping with ladies who are young enough to be their daughter’s, just to upgrade their grades. It is like a norm now and no longer surprising that male students are picked on, while the female student’s who can give them what they want, are preferred and attended to politely; I am a living witness to this while studying in Lagos State University (LASU), some years back.


Hospitals in Nigeria are also pretty poor when it comes to treating patients before payment, some even go as far as asking for full payment before treatment can commence. The human life is no longer valuable in this part of the world. More so, the Nigerian Police takes pride when it comes to collecting “roja” (bribe), from motorists but when it comes to protecting lives and property, they chicken out, either claiming they lack ammunitions or the only vehicle in the station is on patrol or bad. These attitude, negates the rules guiding health workers and service men in general.

These attitude of “go and come back tomorrow” amongst government staff and customer service reps has to stop. Many staff spend their time at work, side-talking while on duty, eating, bringing problems from homes to work or just have a nonchalant attitude towards customers, not minding if they are destroying the image of the firm. The need for continuous sensitization of staff on customer relationship, should be encouraged and I believe, with time, Nigerian customer, will have something positive to say about service delivery in firms and their customer relationship status.

If you have had simliar experience in Nigeria, please share with us, as we try to purge this cankerworm from the Nigerian system.

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