The customer service tragedy in Nigeria
I had arrived in Cannes and was in a rather somber mood many years ago. I was attending the Cannes film festival, one of the highlights of any filmmaker or Broadcaster’s year if you look towards international film markets, buying content, or networking with the big media boys and girls. It was a difficult trip. Flights had been diverted the day before due to a terrible storm and we kind of flew into Cannes with our hearts in our mouths. The storm was still simmering and reminders of the storm the day before were everywhere. Cars upside down, shopkeepers clearing debris, streets in disarray from the storm which had killed persons stuck in underground car parks as the sea rose and buried them. Cannes, a picturesque resort town on the French Riviera is famed for its film festival. In spite of the previous day’s storm, Cannes citizens and the organisers of the film festival were agog to receive us all. Everywhere looked spectacular and all buyers, sellers of content jostled and discussed along with numerous stakeholders. Big networks like Disney, MTV etcetera showed up spectacularly while China occupied as the festival’s official country for the year. Eye-popping arenas were everywhere and food courts were to die for. All was looking good. There were buses heading for the festival venue every twenty minutes and it was free.
This morning I had already questioned the receptionist for charging my colleague less. She told me in most hotels in France, you get some discount if you were sixty and above. Cute is not it. To get those older citizens who have paid their dues to feel special. I suddenly wanted to be sixty.
Back here no such things existed. Older persons still have to wait in queues and very rarely would a young person give up his seat to the elderly.
So this fine morning in Cannes, after breakfast we ran to catch the film festival venue destination bus. Midway as we walked briskly we were stopped by a waiter who claimed I had not paid for breakfast. What? Me? He made such a din in French and embarrassed me before other fellow festival buffs. I told him I had not checked out even if this information was true and I would have returned to sort it out. After showing him evidence that I had paid for my breakfast, he left in a huff. I was brimming with anger but bid my time.
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Upon our return to the hotel, I reported him to the General Manager. And yes I made a mental note of his name tag. Customer service failures cost money and if I am the one you encounter and you treat me shabbily, you pay for all the inconvenience I suffer. Suffice it to say of the one week I stayed, I received a complimentary stay for two nights, complimentary breakfast for the rest of my stay, a bottle of wine, and a basket of fruits. In addition, I got a string of apologies from the food and beverage manager, the GM, and a pretty sober erring waiter in question. I was living large in Cannes due to a customer service failure.
Customer service failures cost money and if I am the one you encounter and you treat me shabbily; you pay for all the inconvenience I suffer.
Back home the scenario is devastatingly different. First, the apologies are far and few between. They are hardly audible and sound forced. No customer service recompense. And if you are lucky they bring you a manager who used to be a regular tout on the shop floor. There are batting of eyelids, unadulterated rudeness, and questions in answer to your concerns. Between all of this someone is telling you madam it is alright now, while the failed customer service culprit walks free. No one berates anyone and everybody goes home and repeats their stupidity on the shop floor tomorrow.
I am at the airport in Lagos where a shopkeeper is trying to interest me with perfumes. Why are all the tester bottles empty I ask her (all 15 on display) She wears a boring look. Sorry ma, she says looking away. I can sense she is more interested in her own cropped hair than she is interested in me. Then seeing how empty the bottles are, she tries unsuccessfully to spritz one of the perfumes on my wrist. Mark you it is empty. She looks puzzled. Then I show an interest in a favourite hand cream. How much? Three Thousand Naira comes her reply. Not possible, I say. The price on the shelf under it is Two Thousand, Seven Hundred, I told her. We no longer use that price, she says. So why have you not removed it? Sorry ma, she says as I breeze out of the shop.
Daily, customer service plummets in Nigeria. It is utterly ridiculous and it will seem like no one cares. Shop owners, shop keepers, and buyers alike. I worry… Something is wrong and it is sad…