OVER the last couple of weeks I have followed first hand how: 1. Procurement sometimes gets easily confounded and; 2. How, as a direct result, a certain cadre of persons will lose their jobs.
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.
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.
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.
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.