Customer Service - Lifting the Words

It is pertinent to note that the essential requirement to create better public service is the leadership commitment with the support of decision makers in relation to the allocation and utilisation of resources in order to improve the quality of public service.

The quality of service delivery in the public sector plays an increasingly important role in the economy of many countries. In today’s global competitive environment, delivering quality service in all sectors is considered as an essential strategy for success and survival.

Public sector organisations have come under increasing pressure in the last few decades to deliver quality services and improve efficiencies. Customer needs and expectations are changing when it comes to government services and their quality requirements.

Customer service excellence is about customer satisfaction and this applies to both internal and external customers, as the two are connected in achieving service compact – better known as Servicom – objectives.

Putting it simply, customer service excellence pertains to how well an organisation is able to constantly and consistently exceed the needs of the customer.

Excellent customer service is evident when an organisation is honest, gives value for money, has a high reputation, meets deadlines, has quality products and services, has user-friendly processes, responds to criticism, encourages complaints and handles them properly, while also demonstrating that it is passionate about the customer.

In transforming the public service to meet the expectations of the citizens, innovation and responsiveness in service delivery are very vital, and they are indeed taking place around the world as governments recognise the value that can be achieved by these – both in terms of desired policy outcomes and increased citizen trust in government. Evidence shows that there are strong links between service and the trust and confidence that citizens have in government. By the way, governments have often been perceived to lag behind the private sector in quality service delivery.

Sincerely, service quality practices in many public sector organisations in Nigeria is slow and is further exacerbated by difficulties in measuring outcomes, the greater scrutiny from the public and media, a lack of freedom to act quickly without authorisation and a requirement for decisions to be based on extant law.

Currently the quality of service delivery in the public sector in the country is beset with the following four major problems:


i.) Lack of monitoring of outcomes and failure to hold anyone to account for specific service delivery;

ii.) Shortages of service capacity and inaccessibility for most citizens;

iii.) Poor service quality and customer care;

iiii.) Lack of support services such as finance, technology, procurement and personnel that are required for quality service delivery.

At the Nigerian Communications Commission, we have always made the consumer the focus of our actions, because in reality without the telecom consumer, there is no network.

Upon my assumption of office at NCC as executive vice chairman and chief executive officer in 2015, I categorically stated the place of the consumer in my vision; in fact the focal point of my eight-point agenda is the consumer. We buoyed our philosophy on the tripod of availability, affordability and accessibility of telecom services to the consumer. To give force of action to our message, we declared 2017 as the year of the telecom consumer. The dedication of this year (2017) to the telecom consumer once again underscores the commitment of the Commission to consumer protection.

Best practices we have since institutionalised in the Commission, which constitute a framework for ensuring quality service delivery to our stakeholders, include but are not limited to the following:

● Consultative regulation of the communications industry;

● Transparent licensing processes;

● Technology neutrality;

● Consumer outreach programmes;

● Toll-free lines for consumer complaints;

● Up-to-date website with capacity for interface with stakeholders;

● A level playing field for our licensees to ensure fair competition.

It is pertinent to note that the essential requirement to create better public service is the leadership commitment with the support of decision makers in relation to the allocation and utilisation of resources in order to improve the quality of public service. However, improving the quality of public service is difficult to achieve when the participation of users of the services in the development is very low. The most important aspects of service users’ participation is their aspiration for variety, quality and appropriate costing of service delivery.

Trust is without doubt the key to success for improving public services. Mutual trust will generate positive communication and interaction and create more meaningful services.

Finally, we recommend that the government should introduced the Public Service Excellence Award for the ministry, department or agency (MDA) which excels in all spheres of its operations in order to increase productivity and efficiency. This would be a good incentive for the public sector which is under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their services are customer-focused and that the continuous improvement of performance is being delivered.

Umar G. Danbatta is executive vice-chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission.