While digging up essays I had written in the past, I came across this piece. I think it’s quite enlightening but yet also funny. In the piece, I narrate a conversation I had with two helpdesk operators sometime in May, 2012. The after effect was so revealing I had to begin writing after the conversation. Enjoy and kindly relay through comments your thoughts as regards the present situation with Naija telecomm providers in terms of service delivery in comparison to this experience I had last year.
Day - Friday 25th May, 2012.
Time - 4.01 am.
Location- Yaba, Lagos.
Help Desk Operator: (Female Voice) Good morning, my name's Chisom. How may I help you today?
Caller: Hiya Chisom, how you doing today?
Help Desk Operator: Am fine thank you. How may I help you?
Caller: My name's Jide Alara, I’m calling from Yaba in Lagos. I’ve been having issues trying to connect with my phone's data services for over a day now. My BIS plan is on Co Month and is not close to expiration, I was wondering what the problem might be or if you guys were experiencing technical difficulties?
Help Desk Operator: Not really....you mean your BBM is not working right?
Caller: Not only my Blackberry Messenger, all my data services.
Help Desk Operator: Your Data services?
Caller: Yes. My twitter, facebook, internet browser and all.
Help Desk Operator: Oh..Ok. What plan are you on monthly?
Caller: I just said to you Co-Month and I’m nowhere close to the expiration date. Are you guys having netw...........
Help Desk Operator: (cuts in) which phone are you using and are you calling with your number?
Caller: A Blackberry and yes am calling with my number.
Help Desk Operator: Have you turned your phone off and on again or taken the battery out?
Caller: Yes, several times. Nothing seems to change.
Help Desk Operator: Wait first. Let me check status for that your phone and number...Hold on please, I’ll be with you shortly.
(After 6 minutes and 33secs of ear torture from “Recharge Card, Recharge Card"- G** adverts)
Help Desk Operator: Hello. Are you there?
Help Desk Operator: (In an authoritative tone) You don't have any credit. You have to have at least N30 balance on your phone to be able to connect your BBM, facebook and twitter.
Caller: Huh? (Shocked) What you mean at least N30?... I pay N1, 400 monthly for my data services, what you mean I need to have at least a N30 credit balance again?
Help Desk Operator: Sir that is the policy. You must have at least N30 credit balance on your phone for your facebook, twitter, BBM and other things to work.
Caller: What flawed policy? I have often times been able to connect to everything without any credit balance. All I need and usually pay is the N1, 400 as monthly charges. What are you chatting? When was this policy initiated?
Help Desk Operator: It’s been there for months now, well over 4 months.
Caller: You obviously either don't know what you relaying or am ignorantly dumb because I’ve been running this line since March. And a host of times, without any credit balance than the N, 400 I pay monthly for my data services; I’ve been having successive access. How come......
Help Desk Operator: (cuts in again) since when did you say? Are you sure?
Caller: Don't interrupt me, let me finish my sentences. If you pay close attention you would hear me clearly. Do you understand anything about client relations at all?
Help Desk Operator:.......(Silent)
Caller: I’ve used this line at a zero credit balance ever since March and it has never for once hindered my data services as long as I pay the N1,400 charge monthly...except I intentionally restrict network access on my phone or you guys have network troubles. I’ve not done the former this week and expected to an extent you would politely truly state latter is the case and apologise sensitively; which is of course is highly understandable. I still used my Twitter, Internet browser and Facebook account on this phone two days ago without any hindrance. How come you telling me something else of this policy being active over four months now?
Help Desk Operator: Sir, you don't work here, I work here and am telling you the right policy. If you have N30 on your phone your network would "pick" back. Go and recharge and see if it doesn't "pick". If it does not work call back and make your complaint but if you talk from now till tomorrow there is nothing I can do. You must have at least N30 on your phone.
Caller: What dictatorial gullibility are you guys enforcing on customers? Not all of us are ignorant you know? What then am I paying N1, 400 monthly for?
Help Desk Operator: Well as I said earlier, that's the policy. Nothing or no grammar spoken can change anything sir. That's the policy and if you recharge and have the balance, you would get network for your twitter, facebook and browser. I just work here I don't make the policies. Please there are other people on the line waiting sir.
Caller: Your customer relation skills are really poor...didn't I wait on a queue before I got connected to you? I have never had to keep a balance to enjoy my data services after the Co-month payment and if this is a new policy for subscribers I have to say it’s very fascist in structure and totally greedy. Why would you have to........?
Help Desk Operator: (cuts in again) That's the policy sir, I am only working here and that's the policy now.. If you.........
Caller: (cuts in) I have told you it’s rude intruding a customer’s sentence before they done. It doesn't show proper intent or commitment to you wanting to proffer solutions to their inquiries. You are meant to find solutions to problems as an operator not complicate issues the more. This new policy is selfish. I have never............(dunnnnnnnnnn..line goes dead)
Caller re-dials. (After 19mins and 12secs of another round of "Recharge Card, Recharge Card" ear torture from G** adverts)
Help Desk Operator: (Male Voice) Hello and good morning, my name's Kachi how can I help you today?
Caller: Hi Kachi, my name's Jide Alara. I’m calling from Yaba in Lagos and I was on the phone with a young lady earlier but was either cut off abruptly or got disconnected. I can't be quite sure if she hung up on me but my whinge is more tailored towards your new policy rather than her rude and saddening customer relation skills. What's this new policy of N30 credit balance before my data services can work?
Help Desk Operator: Hmmm, were you attended to un-satisfactorily sir?
Caller: Yes I was. Even more, poorly.
Help Desk Operator: I’m very sorry about that and apologise on behalf of G*******. Am so sorry about that sir.
Caller: It’s no fault of yours. Please just answer my question.
Help Desk Operator? Yes, so what was the question sir?
Caller: Lord, Kachi, you guys need to pay attention on this help desk. That's the primary thing you getting paid for as a help desk operator and if you not devoted in attention to detail I don't see competence in anything else you doing. I need not repeat myself severally on a help desk. What's this new issue of N30 credit balance before my data services on my phone can work?
Help Desk Operator: How do you mean N30 credit balance sir?
Caller: You mean you not aware? I have been having issues with my data services on my phone trying to connect for over a day now. My date for expiration is not until 3weeks. I have tried re-gaining network access in all ways I know but can't. The lady I spoke with earlier says I should recharge my account and make sure I leave N30 in it always to have access to my data services. To me that's very domineering on customers. You guys should not be coercively getting money from us again after we pay N1, 400 monthly don't you think?
Help Desk Operator: Are you using a blackberry phone sir?
Caller: Yes. Does that matter?
Help Desk Operator: Am so sorry sir but I think you have been misled. We only often times in focus to rapidly solving such queries, advice customers when experiencing network issues with data services on blackberry to try recharge their accounts. Recharging your account somehow reconfigures connections on your blackberry device and not using out your credit balance for a while somehow retains network service. It’s just a technical service trick that brings back the network in certain areas and not a forced or coerced policy. The young lady totally didn't insinuate you must retain the balance at all times. Or did she?
Caller: She damn did! She said that's your new policy and there is totally nothing she can do to help me till I recharge. She authoritatively also told me it’s been a new policy for over four months.
Helpdesk Operator: Am so sorry sir. It has not and has never been a new or enforced policy. Its just been a consistent recommendation as a solution to customers whenever they have network issues with data services. We implore if they can get recharged, and can keep a N30 minimum balance, it improves connection status and facilitates prompt delivery of data again on their blackberry devices.
Caller: Kachi, how I wished I spoken with you much earlier. I have been on the phone calling G** help desk since about 4.13am; its 5.05am now. But again, God's plans are always for a reason. If I had spoken to you, I wouldn't have gotten to experience firsthand the incompetent, tacky and bad attitudinal staff you guys have on your helpdesk. Only through general consensus had I known that helpdesk operators in this country aren't resourceful. Now, it’s a convinced thought but in fairness to a few like you. However, the competent and resourceful ones like yourself would generally be rubbed on as incompetent altogether as a result of the flawed engagement in service delivery I had this morning. Until your supervisors or human resource team enforce performance measurement management techniques to monitor the standards of employees service delivery, you guys would continually suffer poor image perception. If you guys have already taken such medium... well, it’s not working effectively cos people like Chisom are still on your payroll. Maybe you need to give feedback to your Supervisors or HR team to switch to a Performance Related Pay salary structure. Employees on your help desk get paid in line with measured and assessed performance. Even though such measure is very strict, it would checkmate a lot of incompetency and reduce it to the barest minimum.... Don't you think so?
Help Desk Operator: You right sir.
Caller: So now Kachi, you confirming to me its not a must I keep a N30 credit balance on my phone to engage my data services?
Help Desk Operator: No Sir. In fact if you bear with me one second I can find for a solution.
Caller: Sure. Please do...
Help Desk Operator: (cuts in) you calling with your number right and using a blackberry phone?
Help Desk Operator: All you need do now for the main time is to use your 2G instead of 3G network.
Caller: Huh? Kachi, can I get data services on a 2G network?
Help Desk Operator: Yes you can sir. With G*******you can. Trust me. Just move from 3G to 2G on your phone. I have solved the issue. It would work with 2G on your phone for now. Later on in the day or tomorrow you can revert back to 3G.
Caller: Are you sure? Why don't you just hold on, I'll have you in speaker and try.
Help Desk Operator: Well sir, there are people on a queue; I assure you it would work.
Caller: (Slowly talking while trying it out.) Kachi......................I was having a differing thought about your style to customer service in comparison to Chisom....................., don't let me see...........................reason to believe my former thoughts are right!......................................................Wasn't I also on a queue before being connected to you?............You should have my issue solved before moving on to another caller.
Help Desk Operator: You right sir. Sorry about that.
Caller: Its actually working. Wow! I had you on speaker while making my last statement and tried figuring it out. Never knew 2G could facilitate data services. Well, thank you very much Kachi but if you have supervisors, do inform them there is the need for consistent and repetitive training for the likes of Chisom.. Her client service skills are saddening and her lack of company standard policies and solutions is even more disastrous for your organization. She needs enhanced content enlightenment and more client relations training. Thank you Kachi.
Help Desk Operator: I apologise on her behalf again.
Caller: It’s okay Kachi. I’m only giving feedback. Your supervisors through performance measurement analysis can ascertain loopholes in your help desks that can be of great defect to your company. Chisom is orientating customers wrongly and if someone other than me doesn't call back like I did to enquire from someone else, they would be falsely guarded; which could result in a lot of patronage withdrawal. Trust me, the N1, 400 monthly charge for some is hard to keep up with not to talk of the compelling nature a N30 credit balance.
Help Desk Operator: Its noted sir. Thanks so much. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Caller: Not at all Kachi, you've been wonderful. Thanks for your understanding and attention. I know I talk a lot, thanks also for your patience. Apologies for chewing up your time. Thanks. Be safe bro and God Bless.
Helpdesk Operator: Thank you for calling G*******. You welcome anytime. Have a nice day. Bye sir.
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