- Poor Customer Service (bank edition).
Let me set the scene for you. You walk into a bank and make a beeline for the Customer Services desk. You meet a lady seated there; she is typing and staring at the screen of her computer. ‘Good Morning’, you say. ‘Good Morning’, she replies; her eyes never leave her computer’s screen. ‘I have been unable to carry out transactions using my online account…’ you start to say, when she cuts you off. ‘Our systems are down; you will have to come back at another time’, the lady says. She continues typing. You wait for a moment, contemplating what to do next.
‘I would like to speak to your Manager’, you say to her. She stops typing and finally rewards you by looking up from her screen. You have her attention now. ‘The Manager?’ she asks. ‘Yes’, you say in an unnecessarily loud voice; ‘I would like to close my account. It is of no use to me if I can not carry out transactions on the go. Please get me the Manager now’, you add, raising your voice a little more to add some drama to the situation. The lady gets up silently and goes into an inner office, and comes back with another lady, who is charm personified.
The lady introduces herself as the Branch Manager, and she proceeds to sweet-talk you and she leads you into an inner office which is very cool with air-conditioning. She even offers you some snacks. After a while, the hitch with your online account is resolved. You leave the bank. You didn’t really want to close your account, but you knew that throwing a tantrum was the only way that you would be attended to properly in that scenario.
It doesn’t take much to deliver good customer service; simply look interested in what a customer/client/visitor is saying to you, and make efforts to solve their problems in a pleasant manner. Those actions would be satisfactory.
2. 24 Hours with Power/Electricity/’Light’.
Here’s another scenario. You are a Nigerian. You are at home somewhere in Nigeria on a Saturday, watching television. You check the time. It is 11am. You enjoy your TV show. Time passes. You start to feel uncomfortable. You check your time again. It is now 1.30pm. There is still power/electricity/’light’. You start to fidget. You get up and walk to your bedroom. You iron the clothes you would like to wear to work for the next two weeks. You look at your watch. It is now 2.30pm.
You go into the kitchen, switch on the microwave, and heat up some left-over rice and stew from the previous day. You have your lunch. The time is now 3.30pm. You plug in all your appliances to make sure that they are fully charged.
You walk around the house, feeling restless but not sure why you feel that way. Your heart it beating slightly faster than normal. Then, at about 5pm, just as you sit down to watch a movie which you have been waiting for all day, the power goes off.
‘Oh no wonder!’, you muse. ‘There’s been ‘light’ for most of today-no wonder I felt so uncomfortable!’. You laugh, shake your head and go outside to switch on the generator.
A phrase I associate with my childhood is ‘where are the candles?’. It was a given-at some point during the day, the power would go off (or, to put it in the Nigerian way, ‘NEPA would take the light’). That was in the eighties. This is 2016, and I am still filled with childish delight when a whole day goes by and there is to power outage.
Recently, the ‘light’ goes at the point of me putting on my makeup in the mornings ; thankfully I have been able to salvage such situations and have yet to turn up at work looking like a well-dressed clown.
Constant electricity is a luxury, and it really shouldn’t be.
3. The Nigerian Sense of Humour.
I love the fact that Nigeria, it seems, is basically made up of aspiring stand-up comedians roaming the streets of the country.
Everything is potentially hilarious.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, go through Instagram and search for photos with the tag ‘nigeriafunny’-it is basically a portfolio of Memes dedicated to the joys or traumas associated with being a Nigerian. For instance, during one of the many bouts of fuel scarcity we experienced recently, a picture started circulating on Nigerian social media of a guy proposing to a lady with a 50litre keg of fuel. I could list more examples but they are just too many to name.
What I would like to know is this: is our humour triggered by our current dilemmas, or is our humour inbuilt-would it still exist if we didn’t go through so many challenges?
Does Nigeria frustrate me? Yes.
Would I give up being Nigerian for a pile of gold? No.
(Wait-how much gold are we talking about???).