When you come from a place where things are generally messed up, there are strong odds that even a whiff of sanity would piqué your interest, making you think you’ve just encountered the best life has on offer. This tallies with the common maxim that “in the land of the blind, the person with one eye is king”. However even accounting for this maybe overexcited feeling, there are things you come across that would surely stand out, regardless of whether they are one-off occurrences, or common to those you encounter. This is a narration of an encounter with caring customer service.
I recently stumbled into London to do some stuff. Sometime during the outward journey, I realized I had made a mistake by not having breakfast before leaving. The numerous gods in my stomach regaled me with turbulent thundering to register their displeasure at my failure to provide the morning’s sacrifice. When I finally finished what I went for, I looked for the nearest restaurant to get some appeasement for the gods.
Some Nigerians make it a duty to eat only what they are used to from home. For me, if the people of a given place say something is food, and I see then eating it (without dying), it’s good enough for me. My tongue may complain all it wants, but the most important thing is getting fuel into the stomach. So, I took this restaurant’s menu and couldn’t identify anything. Well, some items had “egg” listed, but the accompaniments were Italian-sounding. I saw “porridge” and remembered porridge in Nigeria, usually made of yam and vegetables. How foolish I was to draw such a link! “What would you like to have?” “Porridge, please”. Then I waited for my meal to arrive, while using some juice to buy time from the loan sharks within me.
The porridge finally arrived. Scratch that. A plate arrived, containing a pinky semi-fluid and a garnishing of apple slices. By the way, it was really hot. As hungry as I was, I dived into the food, not minding the confusion in my mind. I just couldn’t place what exactly I was eating. After forcing about a third of the plate down my throat, I beckoned on a waiter, and asked him what exactly I was eating. “It’s porridge”, he said. Uh! Porridge! The guy looked at my face and saw confusion written all over it; poorly concealed though, in an effort to avoid other customers noticing my predicament. Immediately, this waiter said I should stop punishing myself, and offered to get me any other thing on the menu.
Seriously? I looked at the menu, picked something that began with “egg”, and asked him what the Italian word meant. When he said “bread and mushroom”, I asked for that. As he took away the porridge, and brought the replacement, my head kept computing the “new bill”, as I couldn’t yet believe the restaurant would write off the one I couldn’t finish. By the way, Italians surely have great food sense, just that their serving sizes would barely satisfy Nigerian babies. After eating my now eatable food, I asked for my bill. The bill listed the two dishes I was served, but then added another line where the cost of the porridge was subtracted. As I paid, I thought about Nigeria.
Although we may agree that some Nigerian businesses and employees treat customers pretty good, many Nigerians would agree that customer service is generally poor in Nigeria. It’s quite common to see Nigerian customers being treated as people who don’t matter. An example is a Nigerian telecoms operator that has been sending me messages to go register my sim card or face disconnection. Just over a year ago, this same operator had made me go through the stress of re-registering my sim, despite having registered when I bought the card. If customers are truly considered important, would businesses treat them as rubbish? This is just an example of poor customer service continuously bestowed on Nigerians, with the government (business) at the forefront of disregarding its citizens (customers).
Entrenching quality customer service may seem expensive and time-consuming in the short run. However, in the long run, increased customer satisfaction, bolstered by the customers’ perception of a caring business, would lead to customer loyalty, translating to long term revenue inflows. Businesses that disregard their customers are either shortsighted or depending on full or mini monopoly. While this may work for a while, someday, “water go pass garri” and smart businesses would win.
Image Credit: socialmediaexaminer.com
PS. “Water go pass garri” should translate to “limit would be exceeded”.