Saturday, June 17, 2006

Starcomms- Customer care or Customer scare

Last Off the Cuff published in Tribune

Starcomms is clearly the market leader in the fixed service segment, with about 300 000 subscribers.

But apparently a curse comes with leading the market in Nigeria’s telecommunications market. It means you cannot get your customer care right, however hard you try. What happens if you do not even try? You have Starcomms!

Starcomms has no time for pretences. The space the operator provided for caring for its customers looks more like jankara market, only that it is much smaller. When you are trying to concentrate on the serious business of having your problem solved, another equally distressed customer rubs her breasts against your back while trying to squeeze past.
Well, if you have a thing for women, that may be all the antidote you need against the anger welling up inside you about your miserable phone that is not effectively picking up signal. You may pick up a whole different type of signal yourself!

Anyway, you get back to the business of having your problem solved. The officer is really interested in listening to you, but there are two others he needs to listen to first. One of them seems to have a complicated problem from all the time it is taking. So you keep moping and wondering about all the things you could have done to make some money with all the time being wasted.

You then suddenly remember, you know someone in the PR department, ke. Why don’t you enlist her assistance? So you go over to the receptionist who was surprisingly more polite than you would expect from someone in a security uniform.
You ask to speak with the PRM. She asks if you have an appointment, you say no, but that you need some assistance with a service problem. She mumbles into the phone again, puts it down and says: “She is in a meeting”. That is just great!
So you return to the customer cell, and find regrettably that three other customers had joined the queue that does not seem to be moving. There are only two unbalanced, torn seats to a corner. And they are both taken. You curse your decision to leave the queue in the first place.
But ever wondered why Public Relations Managers in Nigeria are always too busy to relate with the public? Ever wondered why CEOs who hire PRMs to see the public on their behalf turn out to be more accessible than the PRMs? You are more easily likely to see Starcomms CEO or Marketing Manager five times for instance than to see the company’s PRM once.

You resign to fate. With some more patience and standing, it is your turn. And this very tall, light-complexioned staff is all very courteous and attentive. And surprisingly can recognise faces and names from previous encounters. This is an excellent customer care attribute. But he has an appalling environment to work in. This guy should be in the MTS’ comfy Customer care office while all the smartly dressed girls in the MTS office should be thrown into this dungeon! If only I had any supernatural powers.

Anyway, it turned out the solution could very much have been received through a phone call. Trouble is, when you are a subscriber of a leading telecom operator, you are sentenced to having to stay long minutes waiting on the phone to get a customer care executive to speak with.
And then there are foul-tempered people who are under pressure to take calls from all manner of people as quickly as possible. When you do make it to talk to one, you end up shouting at each other.

In the end, you pack yourself in the car, risk running over a couple of recalcitrant okada operators, curse a few danfo drivers, just manage to escape a murderous Molue driver, beat LATMA extortionists, dodge the vicious VIOs and gluttonous policemen and find yourself at the customer scare, I mean care centre of your operator. Not a nice prospect, just to think of it.
This is the last off the cuff you will read here. I am moving on. I thank all you readers who have been faithful over the years. Merci. You can read select past writings at So long!

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