Customer Service in GH

As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in both the United States and Ghana, I have noticed certain differences between the two nations.  Indeed such is to be expected when you consider that these countries are separated by thousands of miles and a deadass ocean.  But in this case I'm not talking about the obvious, naked-eye types of observations.  Rather I want to focus on an aspect of modern society which we can perhaps say is unseen yet still affects us all, that being customer service.

Now before I go any further, let me say that I'm not trying to diss anybody.  In anthropology there is a concept referred to cultural relativism which generally defined means that an outsider should not judge another society's culture, since different cultures are formed via the unique history of a people.  So with in mind, I would say that whereas professionalism is a concept that is heavily espoused in the United States, it is not so much in Ghana.  Indeed such is to be expected in an economy which, as of 2011, informal businesses make up a whopping 80% of all economic activity (and then some according to some other statistics I've read).

But as someone who once had a very-strict mentor in the realm of professionalism, I know that this ideology exists for a reason.  And it's not about wearing nice clothes and making yourself look good.  Rather treating your business peers and customers, even the seemingly powerless ones, with respect tends to be generally good for business.  In other words even if a businessperson or employee is naturally a jackass, during work hours they are supposed to subdue that side of their persona in the name of advancing the entity that they work for.


So for instance I remember some time back when I used to have a homey, who happens to be a Rastafarian, receive money for me via Western Union.  And I remember one bank in particular we went to whereas the teller straight-up fronted on him for being a Rasta.  Now we could have made a big stink about it and called the manager.  But the general air was that the manager would have supported his subordinate anyway.  Or else why would he or she even be bold enough to do something like that?

There was another bank we used to go to whereas the cashier would steal some of the money.  And in the aftermath, I would be reluctant to ever patronize either of those institutions again, as I would presume the Rasta also.  And perhaps these businesses, being the big companies that they are, wouldn't really care.  But that just goes to show how putting the wrong type of person in a customer-service position can negatively affect a company.

And these stories are also meant to illustrate how people can be commonly discriminated on in Ghana based on their perceived income.  Or in other words the aforementioned individuals who serviced the Rasta, despite their appearance and enviable positions, were not actually professionals.  And likeminded employees and business people, if they were to service someone noticeably rich their whole dispositions would be completely different in a positive way, which again is not professional.  And the fact that no superior ever chastises them for behaving so is also not professional.


So now I want to talk about the experience which actually led to me writing this article.  For the last couple of days I have been put in a position whereas I had to contact both MTN and Vodafone in terms of requesting a pin code for my mobile-money accounts.

As for MTN Mobile Money, I hadn't used the account for over a year and forgot the password.  And as for Vodafone Cash, I never actually used it but about a month ago received an SMS from the company requesting that I register.  I did so in haste and promptly forgot the pin code.  But I didn't really care until yesterday, when someone actually sent me money via Vodafone Cash for the first time.

So to make a long story short, I was able to successfully reset my pin on MTN.  It wasn't easy as I had to reactivate the account etc., but the customer service ultimately walked me through the multi-tiered process.

In contras,t as for Vodafone Cash I still have not been able to reset the password and in fact told the homey that the next time he sends me money he should just use MTN.  And this isn't a case of me simply failing at a task.  For instance I contacted them via Facebook, in which they setup a virtual assistant which is 90% useless.  This same assistant is also present on their app, which I also downloaded and installed in trying to rectify this issue.

Then early this morning an actual human being did reply to me on Facebook.  He requested a whole bunch of information concerning my account, which I immediately provided yet haven't heard from him since.  Moreover it is now 11:30 at night as I type this.  And I was tempted to include a screenshot of that conversation but didn't, as I don't want to put dude on blast.

Yesterday I actually got through to an actual human being using the Vodafone customer service phone number.  The dude was totally unhelpful, I would even say a bit idiotic and smug.  And then when I tried to call back all I got was an automated response, though I will admit it was right at 5pm, i.e. their closing time.

So I've also been calling them throughout today also.  And even though I followed the proper protocol, I was not able to actually talk to an operator despite the fact that I've been calling since morning.

Now people who are familiar with the history of MTN and Vodafone in Ghana know that at one point in time these two companies were virtually equal in the telecom game.  Then let's say about four years ago MTN introduced Mobile Money to the public, and shortly thereafter Vodafone Cash also came out.

So currently, as of the first quarter of 2020, MTN MoMo boasts well over 9,000,000 active subscribers.  That's approximately one-third of the adult population of Ghana as of 2019.

By contrast, like I saying, yesterday was the first time I was ever really compelled to use Vodafone Cash.  And even then the homey sent it using that service without even notifying me first, or else I would have instructed him otherwise.

And this isn't to say that the reason MTN has come to dominate Vodafone is due to the poor customer service of the latter.  Indeed to the contrary - perhaps the reason the customer service is so poor is due to the fact that they cannot afford to hire more quality representatives like MTN.  Nor is this to say that MTN's customer service is perfect, as yesterday I visited an office whereas the lady who attended to me was inexplicably rude.  But at the end of the day at least I was able to achieve my goal with her assistance, despite her bitchy attitude.


So this whole experience has given me a new perspective when it comes to monopolies.  Now I have come to realize that when one company dominates a market, it isn't always a case of a stronger entity bullying a weaker one.  Rather sometimes the dominant business may just offer a better human service than the weaker one.


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