[Column] Chioma Nnani: Make or Break for Nigerian Businesses
Are we in the last quarter of 2016 already?
While this will send jitters down some spines – OK, down a lot of spines cos this recession they told us that the country is in, ain't smiling with anyone – there are a few businesses that have a reason to smile.
You know how they say the customer is always right? Some businesses didn't get that memo. I had cause to travel via ABC Transport the other day. It was sorta urgent; when I told my lawyer the night before I travelled (I had already booked the ticket online), she started re-hashing a horror story. My reaction was “But I've already booked. And their final stop is near where I have to be.” I got to the terminal in Utarko (in Abuja) just before 0600hours, as departure time was 0645hours.
Two hours later, I was still sitting there and being tormented by the phony accent (and what had to be a newly-created language because there's no way that was English) of an announcer. I had absolutely no cash on me, because they waited till I was already at the terminal to say, “You have to pay for luggage. In cash.” No ATM in the entire building … and Utarko isn't really a place where you want to go searching for an ATM. Then I was just as unceremoniously informed that my luggage would arrive a couple of days after I'd gotten to my destination. I think it was about 0900hours when the journey began, only to stop at Gwagwalada to pick up passengers and their luggage, effectively cramping everyone in the bus. Those ones were demi-gods, so it was perfectly OK for their luggage to compete for (and win) leg room; I'm not even that tall.
The next stop was to fix a hole through which the driver had discovered leaking fuel the previous day. There was another ninety-minute stop in Enugu, which had something to do with faulty brakes, followed by an argument over the cost of repair between the driver and the mechanic. When the driver decided to go via a different route meaning that a particular passenger would miss her stop, the poor lady just became more car-sick … although the speed at which the driver was going, on roads that were obviously in need of TLC was the kind that compels religious people to pray.
By the time I called the company two days later to request my luggage, it was to discover that the number on their receipt was actually a non-functioning number from Guernsey. I remembered the contrast in experience with a different carrier “God Is Good”. Stick to check-in and departure times; check. Appropriate speed; check. Road-worthy vehicle; check. Speak to and treat customers like they are human beings, as opposed to sheep destined for a herding area; check. Enunciate properly in simple English; check. I swear I thought I was back in London, on an Oxford-bound coach.
There are different sorts and levels of customer service that a person can get in Nigeria. Some will leave you biting your fingers and swearing by everything that is important to you, never to patronise them again. And the rest will blow your mind …
Chioma Nnani is an award-winning author, who also contributes to business, lifestyle and literary publications. One of Africa's most fearless storytellers, she is a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”, and a DIVAS OF COLOUR 2016 finalist. Chioma has also been nominated twice for a UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award in the “Best Author” category, holds a 2016 BEFFTA nomination for “Blog of the Year”, lives in Abuja, where she runs THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD, can be reached on @ChiomaNnani and blogs at www.fearlessstoryteller.com