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Posts Tagged ‘Professionalism’

culture permeation

February 6, 2020 Leave a comment

A huge problem in Corporate Nigeria is our tribal culture; it knows no bounds. It is inhibiting professionalism and influencing business negatively. The worst part is we’re its enablers.

A friend shared some shocking news with me some weeks ago. Her boss at the office requires all female employees to courtesy, and all male employees to prostrate, when they greet him every morning. Shocking, right? On top of all that, some female employees address him as “Daddy” instead of “Sir”, and he doesn’t mind. Can you believe that? This man has basically instituted the Yoruba way of greeting, and turned the workplace into a mini Yoruba community.

That would have been ridiculous, if it is an isolated incident, but it’s quite common. A doctor friend of mine [trained in eastern Nigeria] told me how nurses would refuse to take instructions for junior medical officers, on the grounds that they aren’t “mates”, and it’s disrespectful for junior doctors to “order” them to follow up on or give medication to patients. I asked my sister, who was a Lagos-based doctor, if this is true here, and she concurred.

How old one is or how elderly, no matter the culture or tribe, a supervisor should never instruct his/her subordinates to courtesy or prostrate to him; especially not at their place of business/in a professional environment! Talk less of tolerating female subordinates referring to their boss as “Daddy”. Having a supervisor [younger in age] is no reason for older subordinates to disrespect him/her or neglect their duties! The level of unprofessionalism in Nigeria is getting out of whack, honestly.

There’s also the issue of casually [and regularly] speaking in native dialects with colleagues [usually from the same tribe], or pidgin, during office hours. I’m all for cultural bonding of colleagues and team members, but this pattern of behavior [during business hours] tends to rid a firm of its professional outlook. This trend is so widespread, it’s like an epidemic. Speaking in any language, other than English, is only permissible when English is causing a communication barrier with an uneducated client/customer. Any other language can be spoken after office hours or behind closed doors. Otherwise, the trend may result in tribal undertones associated with the brand. For example, the former Diamond Bank was perceived as Igbo people’s bank. This was mainly due to perception and the proliferation of certain mannerisms at the branch level. Chances were, if you walked into any former branch, not only would most of the front-end staff be Igbo natives, but they would be conversing [loudly] in Igbo with each other and the customers. Even the AI chatbot personal banker was called Ada. Ada is a popular feminine Igbo name, and the chatbot’s avatar was, of course, female. If Igbo-centricity was a strategy, it might have worked in attracting Igbo-centric clientele, but it also alienated clients associated with other tribes.

All these are some of the reasons my friend, Collins, and I went into business together in 2017. We set up a personal development agency called Centerprise, with the sole aim of ending the mediocrity in business and upgrading professionalism in Africa. We are determined to cause a positive shift in mannerisms and mentality, and we’re working from the ground up. We connect undergraduates/recent graduates with relevant internships to gain valuable professional experience, develop/optimize resumes and offer interview/job preparation to undergraduates/employees, and provide bankable business plans to budding entrepreneurs; most importantly, we organize professional classes for graduates/employees to gain proper business decorum. We believe personal growth must be intentional, and that includes professional business etiquette.

I understand we have a strong culture in Nigeria, and it’s a big part of our identities, but things need to be kept strictly professional at the workplace. Only verbal greetings and handshakes are acceptable forms of greeting. Permitting female employees to refer to their superior as “Daddy” or anything form of endearment is grounds for sexual harassment, at the very least. The only acceptable titles are “Sir” or “Madam/Ma’am” [or “Boss”, in semi-formal settings], not even “Oga” or “Ma”. And of course, with the exception of interactions with certain customers, Queen’s English should be spoken in and around the office.

epic service

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Customer Service, I have always believed is the backbone of a firm.

I felt like everyone had been slacking in customer service, and some things needed to change. One of the ways I wanted to keep customers sure that we aim to please was by introducuing the customer service emails: service@subsidiary.com instead of info@x.com, productname@x.com or order@x.com, like some others do. This makes Pearl Kreations’ service  efficient and professional.

Another thing is keeping them in the loop. I got this epiphany after disappointing two (2) customers on scheduled delivery dates some time in 2009. I remember it like it was yesterday. It happened so because of exams and bulk orders. I wasn’t able to get the two (2) orders ready for the specified times. There wasn’t going to be an issue if I couldn’t meet the specified time frame. What I did wrong was not informing both of them until the last-minute! It was such a shock that one had to completely cancel the order, while the other rescheduled. I felt so bad! I hate disappointing people. “Disappointing people” is one of the three (3) things I hate most in life. The other two (2) are: “being lied to” and “being taken for granted (disrespected)” – both of which I do not do because I believe one should treat people the way they want to be treated – which not surprisingly is the philosophy my first business, Pearl Kreations was founded upon. Plus, I’m a strong believer in karma lol.

But I digress, I have two stories from two PK customer service reps who recently had similar issues:

The first, a lady, ensured that the package was sent with the earliest Nigeria-bound package. For whatever reason, the Nigerian Customs held on to the parcel for an extra three (3) days; making it impossible for the order to be delivered on time. The customer (the representative of a group) was upset because the purpose of order was defeated. I told the employee that she did the right things and all that she could! She kept the client updated and informed her on the parcel’s status. She even called FedEx when the parcel wasn’t delivered on time, and had the Nigerian delivery personnel on stand-by for the FedEx Delivery truck for the entire three day wait! Notwithstanding, the the customer wouldn’t have it and was still upset. I guess there’s just no pleasing some people. I asked her to apologize (the customer is always right) and offer a full refund. Later, one of the executives of the group after listening to the report of the situation, understood it that it was beyond our control. It was all settled after that. Thankfully.

The second, a gentleman, had his client’s (a D-Dealer) parcel sent on time as well. Again, held for an extra two (2) days. In the D-Dealer’s case, his own clients (whom we have no access to because of the agreement) were pressurizing him and threatening to cancel. He was under stress and in turn, so was our rep! Anyway, he had a delivery personnel send it through the local courier service as soon it arrived at the local PK office. Problem solved.

I’m happy it all went smoothly, and both customers and clients are happy. In any case, a better system has been put in place, and I hope it’s advantageous in the long run.

CUSTOMER SERVICE PLAN

Complaints: When handling customer complaints, we will do so speedily. There is no discrimination or preference to complaints. Everyone is equal and unique and listened to carefully. Pearl Kreations will try to give the best possible results to ensure the issue is has been rectified and the customer is pleased.

Community Service: A good community produces good people. Pearl Kreations will give back through caring for the environment, maintaining old and raising new fundamental structures through our development initiatives; and offering branded gifts to members of our community during special giveaways and holiday sales/promos.

Enquiries: Pearl Kreations will provide detailed and the most accurate information to every customer. This way the company shows them they are very mindful of them.

Mutual Respect: When dealing with customers, Pearl Kreations reps will be mindful to address them by their appropriate titles in person, over the phone, via social media and even email. This gives the company an air of professionalism and respect. People love to be respected and taken seriously.

Product Management: Pearl Kreations has an extensive line of inexpensive, superior quality products. After a recent, complaint, delivery or purchase, a customer service representative will contact to customer to ensure they are satisfied.

Quality Service: Consistency in the right values is maintained at Pearl Kreations. The customer service team will deliver excellent service in a mode and system of operation is superb, unmatched and second to none.Pearl Kreations plans to constantly raise the bar for excellence and innovate new ways to improve the quality of service; because if the customer is happy, the company is happy.

Training: Every customer service representative is trained to be cheerful, honest and respectful when dealing with customers. They will have all the information needed to answer all enquiries and solve every problem in timely fashion.

Pearl Kreations will always make everything about the customer because it is. The customer service quality is paramount because without clients and customers, the company will be non-existent. Pearl Kreations will be committed to continually provide satisfactory products and services that exceed customers’ expectations. And, also train efficient customer service representatives that are approachable, never hesitate to respond to every comment, question, order and review.

We may not always get things right, but we will always make everything about the customer because it is. The new plan is to not only try to rectify/fix the problem asap, but now, also notify the customer as well. Our customer service quality is paramount because without our clients and customers, we will be non-existent. Customers want service reps that are approachable and speedily respond to their inquiries and orders; and that’s what we’re giving them 🙂