With privatizing the Nigerian power sector came great expectations; not just power supply improvements but all round improvements-power supply, infrastructure, tariffs, and customer service. Sadly, none of this has happened. In hindsight, the privatization of the sector feels like nothing but old wine in a new sack. One would think that switching from government ownership to private ownership signaled the beginning of something progressive but one would be wrong.
After the much anticipated privatization, the “new” players in the private sector have blamed lack of investments and low tariff for all their failings. This may be true for failure to improve power supply, infrastructure, and bridge the obvious metering, however, lack of investments cannot be the root cause of the failure of an improved customer service.
Lack of funding does not translate to poor netiquettes from a customer service representative. Lack of funding does not translate to customer service representatives being rude to customers. Lack of funding does not translate to customer representatives being clueless on how to resolve a customer’s complaint. It may seem that the privatized power sector has carried over the customer service traits of NEPA/PHCN. This is why they (DisCos) get the same perception NEPA got.
Even when a DisCos customer service representative seems to get it right on the phone or through any other platform, problems are not resolved until they have been continually reminded. Was this part of the privatization plan? Are we, the customers, meant to suffer poor customer service, talk less from a private firm? Most importantly, will the DisCos ever get customer service right?
A few things are clear…
- Most DisCos inherited staff from the now defunct PHCN. While these staff brought a wealth of experience with them, they carried the same working attitude. Unfortunately, their new employers failed to reorient them on what proper customer service is.
- DisCos need to reorient and continually train staff so customer service can be improved and maintained at a high level.
- In training staff, DisCos must also equip customer service representatives with basic knowledge for handling customer complaints. An FAQ handbook must be made available.
- DisCos must train customer service representatives to close out reported complaints in the quickest time possible.
- Where DisCos cannot bring old staff up to expected standard, new staff may be needed.
In the world we currently live in, DisCos have not gotten the memo:
THE CUSTOMER IS KING AND IS ALWAYS RIGHT!
If DisCos cannot get customer service right, the bad perception the general public has about them will not go away. DisCOs need to fix up and treat their customers right.