Customer Care – The Unexplainable Curse

By on June 11, 2018

Any time you ask a Ugandan about what they think of other Ugandans, they will most likely tell you that Ugandans are generally peaceful and welcoming people. They might even go as far as saying we are the friendliest people in the world. Every nation tries to hold onto this allegation but in Uganda we feel like we are the absolute epitome of friendliness. The pride we feel whenever we say this is second to none and it is probably born out of a place of genuine love for the country.

This is of course until you encounter the customer care desk of an average Ugandan Company. Ugandans will be kind and friendly while they are in their homes, sharing baby pictures on Facebook and commenting on Instagram pictures but the moment they step out of their houses and into the real world, it almost feels like the kindness is abandoned instantly.

Eight out of ten times when you have a conversation with customer care personnel of any Ugandan company, you will most likely be left wondering where these humans are dug up from. They can not be the same Ugandans we claim are peaceful, kind, compassionate and very friendly – they just can not be!

Whether it is on an online account of a Company, at the front desk of an office or through a customer care phone call, you can almost feel the anger, bitterness and intolerance that people have. I am not yet sure where it comes from but I highly doubt it has anything to do with the never ending NRM regime or even the terribly uncompromising economy. There is just something that yanks out the worst in Ugandans regarding customer care it beats my understanding every damn day – it is an unexplainable curse.

Many Ugandan companies are in competition for the title of Worst Customer Care Service of all time and they don’t even know. If they do, they don’t seem bothered.

You get a problem with a service or product and you approach their customer care desk with the hope that you might find some kind of explanation and solution for the mishaps but what do you find? 17  reasons why you are justified in slitting the customer care person’s and your throat.  Many times, the customer care folks are themselves clueless. When you call up someone telling them you are failing to access data on your smart phone yet you just loaded a huge chunk of their data, they will most likely give you a generic response like turn your phone off and then back on or put it in rice – or whatever other generic responses they give. They might even make you think you are the one who is making a mistake – as if you are the one instructing the phone not to access data. And if it is in the banking hall, they will stare at you as though you are a smelly old bag of flesh and bones dumped into the banking hall for help from good Samaritans. If it is in an boutique and you ask for the price of something, they will first look you up and down, then back up and down one more time, before telling you a strange made up figure after rolling their eyes a few times. If it is in an office, the front desk person will point at the waiting chair and get back to her Candy Crush, unmoved by your request to ask a few questions. If it is in a restaurant, they will treat you like your’e actually eating the food for free.

When you approach the person on customer care duty for the day, they will drag the complaint longer than it should last, taking you around in circles, only to eventually tell you that they can not fix it but will forward the complaint to their superior who will most likely be in a never ending meeting.  And all this while they eat into your airtime, unbothered by how hard you struggled to get it. Other times they will confidently tell you that your problem is going to be fixed and you will be called back after 6-8 hours only for you to call back after 72 hours to re-register the same problem and start the process all over again because the original person you spoke to did not log your complaint into the system or travelled to Arua District to attend Abiriga’s funeral and won’t be back for another three weeks.

Evertime you place a phone call or send a message to a Customer Care Respondent, you should brace yourself for one of many things. Either this person will blame you for a mistake you may or may not have made and will therefore leave your feeling worse than you did before the call or they will simply respond to you like you just interrupted their expensive and once-in-a-lifetime spa routine.

Why are people like this?

My very raw understanding of Customer Care is that people who are hired for this specific job are good with other people and are generally very good negotiators, they are tolerant and great communicators. They are often also good listeners because half of the work involved in solving someone’s problem is listening to them. Such people are supposed to even convince you that the shitty product or service you are using is indeed good but it just going through a brief moment of ‘down time’. They are happy and convivial people and will not respond to fire with fire – no matter how harsh or angry a customer is. Yes, they might get pissed off but will detatch their sentiments as much as possible because after all, the customer is king. They will cool fire with water and will make you realise that you had no reason to be so angry because after all, even the best technology gets glitches.

But not our people. Oh no! Ours are special folks who will instantly make you regret your decision to buy their company product or service. Oftentimes they will make you feel like a worthless pile of excrement that was disposed of a while back but still lingers around through its nasty smell. Many times you try to keep calm and collected because you know that you need to talk to this person nicely lest your problem is not solved. Several minutes into the fruitless exchange you will begin to lose your mind because this person will either be patronizing or simply ridiculing you and in some extreme cases will recommend that if you can not put up with their product or servie, you try another. These people have balls several sizes too big. And they dangle them all the time.

A story is told of a man who walked into an office, asked to see the Manager and once the front desk person acted like they owned the company the visitor quietly walked away and the next day pulled his financing out of the company. As it would turn out, he was indeed the owner of the company but had opted to show up unannounced just to find out how the front desk people dealt with everyday customers.

We need more top level managers interfacing with the customer care personnel of their companies as anonymous no-bodies. Only then will they realise that their customers are having a torrid time.

For the average Ugandan, most services and products are actually genuinely lacking so there is bound to be so many cases of complaints. By the time I call to complain about a product or service, I am most likely already frustrated. Don’t worsen that frustration by being an insenitive arrogant customer care prick. Help me fix the problem, don’t make me hurl insults at you. It would only make sense if companies actually invested in the right customer care so that while we put up with their shitty services and products at least the pain can momentarily be numbed by worthwhile customer care.

I will also mention that while some customer care folks might be real heartless insensitive pricks some customers are themselves no saints. They will complain over even the littlest of things and will threaten to paint social media with company dirt and filth. Such customers often make companies struggle with crisis management what not. They are insecure attention seekers who think that by bashing every company online they will have their way. That lot have their own issues and are probably going to hell too, along with their friends the useless customer care folks.

My theory is really simple. There will always be that one customer whose complaints smell like the backside of a skunk. But if a Company treats all or at least most of its customers well, those same customers will help the company fight its battles especially on the internet where things go viral with no regard for decency, normalcy or gradual progression. One second your are doing fine, the next you are trending because of a simple mistake. Treat your customers right and they just might fight some of your battles for you.

It should be as simple as that – I think.

Let’s make Ugandan Companies Great Again!

Good customer service costs less than bad customer service – Sally Gronow, Head of Customer Contact at Welsh Water

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol – The Talkative Rocker

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