Poor customer service: Subscribers tackle telcos

telecom mast

Millions of Nigerians are experiencing a long period of hold on calls placed to customer call centres of telecommunications companies.

This is because the call centres prioritise calls from high-net worth individuals regarded as platinum customers, investigations have revealed.

It was gathered that the over 161 million Global System for Mobile communications subscribers have been segmented into three basic categories: Platinum, Gold and Standard.

Investigations revealed that subscribers in the Platinum segment are regarded to as high-net worth customers and while subscribers in the Standard category are made up of millions of subscribers who recharge their lines with less than N5, 000 monthly.

It was learnt the customers in the Gold segment also get better treatment as their calls are prioritised that those in the Standard category.

Findings showed that customers who recharge their lines consistently with N5, 000 and above per month are categorised as high-net worth subscribers.

The PUNCH learnt that the categorisation and subsequent treatment of complaints from subscribers in each category cut across the call centres owned by the four mobile network operators.

Mobile network subscribers all over the country have been lamenting their inability to reach call centre agents via designated numbers provided by the network providers.

An MTN subscriber based in Osun State, Foluso Odeniyi, said anytime she tried to reach MTN call centres via 180, the line had always been unreachable.

“In terms of data, I have challenges with the MTN network and calling the customer care line, 180, always proved abortive. If I have a better alternative, I would have switched over to another network. Let your customer’s request be your priority please,” she said

Lamenting on Facebook, an Airtel subscriber, Ganiyat Omotosho, said it had been impossible to reach the customer care agents of Airtel through the 121 or 111 codes, threatening to dump the network for another one.

Also on Facebook, a 9mobile subscriber, Akintunde Ikudayisi, said, “The network will steal your airtime, won’t allow you to get to their customer care and after struggling to get through, they will give you a response like our network is down, we can’t find a solution to it. Call back. It just feels like it is only five people that are working for 9mobile.”

Likewise, a Glo subscriber, Idris Salami, while lamenting on Facebook, said, whenever he tried to try to reach the customer service representative through the company’s call centre lines, 121 or 200, he called repeatedly before an agent attended to him.

However, some subscribers observed that responses via the social media were faster and better as they had found respite on Twitter handles and Facebook pages of the mobile network operators.

A customer experience expert, Olufemi Oyefeso, said it was common in business to prioritise customers that generate more revenue for the business, saying the practice ensured the business sustainability.

“It is ethical in customer care because they pay more and bring in more revenue for the company. Therefore,  they are given preferential treatment. In a business, you can’t satisfy everyone. You can’t treat everyone in the same way,” Oyefeso added.

A customer experience analyst, Mr Kelechi Okeke, said the motive for such practice could be due to Pareto’s principle that says “the top 20 customers are responsible for 80 per cent of the revenue.’”

However, he said it was important for companies to ensure that all customers, irrespective of the amount they were bringing in for the company, get quality service.”

“Based on this principle, some companies decide to give better services to their top 20 customers. It is not unethical because that is where most of their money comes from.

Recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission and Consumers’ Protection Council formed a joint committee to investigate and address this unwholesome practice by the telecoms operators.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Joint Investigative Committee, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, stated that the expected outcomes were better services, more transparent charges and increased customer service responsiveness by telecommunications operators. Punch


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