#UgBlogWeek – customer service builds and defends brands more than talk and marketing


I had threatened to post something about MTN Uganda this week, then by sheer co-incidence this morning @jmakumbi tweeted about @albertmuc and @mtnug out of a totally unrelated incident to the one that stoked my ire last week.

@jmakumbi First Tweet

I am still not sure why @jmakumbi kicked this off, but the co-incidence drew my attention.

A few weeks ago I advised someone close to me to take up a specific product and service from MTN Uganda in the belief that it would be good for her business. After she had paid for the product and service, the set up process was a nightmare that made me regret having suggested it in the first place.

Within a couple of weeks after the eventual set up had been concluded, we were back at square one as the service had stopped for some reason we were not clear about.

By the time I sent @mtnug the tweet last night notifying them that they had presented me the opportunity to meet my daily #UgBlogWeek quota, I was smarting from a story that involved an MTN Uganda technician shouting down the phone at their (my) customer in full hearing of his supervisors…

See, as @jmakumbi suggested, people like @albertmuc will do anything to defend their brand – which is not just talking the talk, by my experience with him, yet their brand suffers greatly from characters such as that rude, inefficient technician and many other ‘Customer Service’ characters.

@skaheru First Tweet on @albertmuc

So in spite of the torrid experience my friend (and myself by extension because I had made the recommendation) had had with some of those staff of @mtnug these last couple of weeks, we appreciate the existence of people like @albertmuc and @stkirenga (who are consistently useful and helpful) and three other technicians and supervisors that we have interacted with during this period.

The issue with most companies – whether small companies like my own or the massive ones like MTN Uganda or every MTN operating company – is that they don’t have enough employees who care enough about the brand to defend and build it by focussing on pleasing the Customer.

The first technician who visited my friend’s office to do the set up was quite impatient and tut-tutting at the inconvenience he was undergoing by having to come out to do this installation. The lucky (because I was not physically present to witness his attitude and set him straight for life ever after) fellow even had the audacity to run a loud phone call with a friend about the inconvenience and bother he was suffering, sitting in that office to do the set up.

And he left without finishing it.

Another technician took money to fix the problem (presumably, we later worked out, by loading a data bundle) without explaining how he was going to do the fix – like those medical professionals who pull your trousers down and slam a needle into your bum without a word of courtesy.

Only one of the ten or so people we spoke to on the phone during the period told us their name – the rest simply did not, which was frustrating because we kept getting asked by subsequent callers who had NOT given us their own names, “What was the name of (the person who had called earlier)?”

At one point the comedy even appeared scripted, and my friend glanced up into corners to check whether there was a candid camera hidden there.

These days, this rarely happens with providers like @nwscug (National Water & Sewerage Corporation), who not only respond immediately to queries once they are raised, but actively work at resolving them – and in the process demonstrate quite vividly that they are doing so.

I suspect that the reason is because @nwscug has taken on more of the @albertmuc and @stkirenga types than @mtnug has, so it has more opportunities to present its brand positively than @mtnug does.

In the past I believed that numbers were a major factor – since @mtnug deals with millions of subscribers and @nwscug deals with (hundreds of thousands?) but over time I have had the opportunity to observe the quality of their handling and consider it differently.

Of the two providers, one would expect the Water guy to be a little more complacent than the Phone guy because there is basically one water service provider and if he isn’t meeting your needs as a customer you are screwed, whereas there are so many phone service providers that when your phone is down for a day you simply go out and buy another (as some provider close to me is going to realise shortly).

Surprisingly, we see the reverse at play and now hope that one day the opportunity will arise for the teams at NWSC to take over the MTN Customer Service department, just so we test the DNA of both organisations.

The most serious lesson to pick up, though, is that if you’re a business owner then place A LOT of focus on the people that deal directly with your customers and clients because THAT’S where the bottom line is.

Not on the marketing and public relations that so much effort goes into – because I don’t care how many concerts you sponsor, billboards you erect and colourful flyers get strewn across my path; the experiences I suffer (or enjoy) make a much stronger mark on me.

So in those very important jobs – Customer Service – hire people who are genuinely passionate about solving problems, serving people, representing and building a brand, adding value by their own presence, and protecting the business.

@jmakumbi's Last Tweet On @albertmuc

4 thoughts on “#UgBlogWeek – customer service builds and defends brands more than talk and marketing

  1. Reblogged this on PIUS MUHAMYA Talking Big Things and commented:
    This line is pregnant “hire people who are genuinely passionate about solving problems, serving people, representing and building a brand, adding value by their own presence, and protecting the business.”
    Then we shall have more @albertmuc (s) and as customers we shall be happier.

    Like

  2. Yes! Yes! and Yes!

    …So in those very important jobs – Customer Service – hire people who are genuinely passionate about solving problems, serving people, representing and building a brand, adding value by their own presence, and protecting the business…

    Another thing that is twirling around in my head is ‘company culture’. If the company culture does not embody the need to ensure that the customer is happy – then neither will majority of the employees. Which will then lead to frustrating the efforts of the @albertmu’s of the company.

    Like

  3. The arrogance of MTN when dealing with customers can be breath taking. My company has had post paid lines with them for over 12 years and had no problems paying the bill each month of up to Sh800k. A few months ago MTN changed our numbers without even telling us, and slapped a Sh200k credit limit on the account. We only found out when the phones stopped making outgoing calls about 10 days into the new month.

    We were told that if we wanted more “credit” we had to deposit cash equal to the required “credit”. I have put credit in quotations as it quite clearly is not credit when you have to pay it in advance. Yet they still call this a post paid line.

    So going forward we will pay MTN up to a maximum of Sh200k per month and split the rest of the calls across UTL and Airtel. I realise that a Sh600k drop in income per month will make no difference to MTN, but I hope enough other customers will take similar action until they wake up.

    Like

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