Customer service in Ghana, is as real as the Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth. No seriously, think about it. How many times have you not felt like a service provider was acting like they were giving you freebies instead of you actually paying for the service? Lord knows I have on countless occasions and I have lost it on a few times. Sometimes you enter a shop to buy something with YOUR money and the attendants make you feel like you are some homeless beggar asking for handouts. And these people get away with this.
Today however my rant is not about Customer service as a whole, it’s a little targeted at Hotlines and the seriousness and attention companies pay to them or not. Its like most Ghanaians take the name of Hotlines seriously… as in it is actually so hot that no one dares to answer these lines lest they get burnt or scalded. I am not even playing. I live in the technology era I believe everything should be a click/email/text or phone call away, but no companies here will just do their best to frustrate me.
Can you imagine needing a service urgently, you go to good old Google to find where or whom to contact for such a service, you get a few companies listed with “hotlines” you call and no one answers? Not like the line is busy or the call is on wait but simply no response. You will check the time and it is well within their working hours and all you can do is try again and wait in frustration.
I wanted a bus rental service a few weeks back and I googled and found some companies with numbers listed. Some of the numbers did not go through obviously, some were not in use and the rest that actually went through were met with no response. I tried for like 20 times and finally got one of them to pick and oh my pain! It was this very unprofessional man who picked the call in a very noisy place, was in another conversation with someone else and spoke twi throughout. He hanged up on me a couple of times, I called back and we finally had a decent conversation with him in ENGLISH and they charged in dollars. So the question I asked myself was, how is it a company that charges in dollars has someone manning their hotline who answers in twi knowing well the kind of people that would be calling in for their services.
I was so frustrated that before I managed to have the conversation with him, I had sent a complaint to their info@ email address which was also listed on their website thinking at least someone would get back to me to even ask me why I sent that complaint. Talk about wishful thinking, no one has even bothered to reach out to me.
It is the same with the Telecommunication companies who by virtue of what they do should obviously know better but in their case not only are their hotline operators rude, half of them have next to no idea what they are doing or how to solve your complaints. They also have really long waiting times before you are connected to a customer service personnel and equally long problem solving windows. In some cases 48-hour windows. Meaning if I have a problem, I have to in all likelihood wait 48 hours to have it solved.
What baffles my mind is why put a number there when you are not going to answer calls? Why tell people to “contact us” when it is basically you trying to make yourself look professional? Shouldn’t you actually strive to BE professional? Why do companies take the Ghanaian customer for granted all the time?
There are very simple solutions for this once companies realize the value of these hotlines and to a larger extent the value customer feedback.
Companies need to make room in their budget for the operation of these hotlines and other means through which potential and existing customers can get in touch with them. It is much easier when a budget has been made for the operation of these platforms. Provision should also be made for the training of the personnel who will man these platforms.
There are situations where these companies would not like to be burdened with such matters in order to concentrate on their core business. In such a situation they can outsource to other companies who can professionally deal with such issues on their behalf.
Also most of these companies belong to umbrella bodies/associations and these associations should make it a point to ensure that all their members behave as professionally as possible in their day to day operations.
Companies should look at it this way, if they take their customer service seriously, it is a win win situation, no one loses.