Whether one is paying for a service – concert, hail cab ride, or laundry, or purchasing a product like an electronic device or a nice tote bag, the expectation of good customer service is an unspoken given. This entails providing service before, during, and after purchase of said product/service. It not only ensures the purchaser is getting maximum value for their money, but that the business is likely to retain them as customers due to the satisfaction an excellent customer service gives them.
In theory, it holds that customers who are consistently dissatisfied by a product/service provider, will unfailingly sever all ties with the erring brand/person. Easily drawn away by the competition because the service they are getting isn’t much to speak of. Yet this theory doesn’t always hold in Nigeria.
Picture this scenario: year after year, Nigerians constantly look forward to the rave season in December, with concerts happening all over the country. Yes, this also leads to constant complaints from Port Harcourt to Lagos: the shows always start late and headliners show up several hours too late. Yet, Nigerians still show up in droves to the same events they swear off almost on an annual basis.
A year may be a long time to hold a grudge against a brand, but it is about more than time healing all wounds.
Data has shown that Nigerians are a lot more forgiving than the average customer when it comes to customer service expectations. A Culture Intelligence from RED survey revealed earlier in the year that at least 66% of Nigerians are willing to patronize a business even if their customer service is ‘terrible, but it comes with a caveat.
It figures that if Nigerians are willing to forgive terrible customer service enough to continue patronizing the brands offering it, they are apt to become wildly loyal to brands who make excellent customer service support. This begs the question, are they?
Our survey showed that 85.7% of respondents care about good customer service, while 14.3% don’t see the need for it. The need, as with all customer bases, exists as shown by the huge percentage of those who care for it.
Perhaps the discordance exists in that brands, in understanding the nature of the Nigerian market and how everyday Nigerians will choose just getting their product and/or service and calling it a day without making a fuss about customer service support. Apparently, bad customer service might not kill, but it’s unclear if it makes any local customer stronger.
The question is, will knowing that the competition provides better customer service sway Nigerian consumers away from brands that don’t care to provide as much or any at all?
If customer service provision means so much to so many, why are Nigerian consumers not making a lot more fuss about the seasonal mediocre entertainment offerings from some of their favourite stars and brands?
Is it a case of lack of competition?
What The Streets Are Saying
Engaging our national focus group further reveals that indeed Nigerians care about customer service, 73.8% of our respondents will return to make purchases from a business that prioritizes good customer service support. This directly translates to customer loyalty over time as brands and customers continue finding satisfaction in their exchange. 26.2% of our respondents don’t care about being loyal regardless of how good the customer service is. They prefer to, ‘look for the next best thing,’ or ‘another thrill.’
On whether they will be drawn to the competition 80.1% of our respondents will only do so if the competition offers the same or better ease of access to the product and/or service they want. 19.9% will ditch a brand and seek the alternative however inconvenient it is to access.
The general response regarding why they aren’t making a lot more fuss demanding better service is the very Nigerian attitude of steering clear of stress. Which tallies with our previous discovery. Because the Nigerian market, like all emerging economies, offers endless options constantly springing forth – new ventures and products that do the same thing, the customer can always take the treatment they meet and move on to the next brand.
Yet the future of the market as it consolidates rests in the hands of the few brands who take customer service support seriously. Those brands that leave a feel-good memory at point of contact and thereafter. Those are the brands that will have customers selling them to potential customers with no incentive other than the way they made them feel.