Mrs Shirley Acquaah-Harrison, the Director of Marketing and Sales at the Graphic Communications Group, has criticised poor customer service delivery in both public and private institutions, saying it scares prospective investors and tourists and slows economic growth.
The poor service delivery has largely been blamed on political interference and influence, corruption, engaging unqualified persons in strategic positions, unhealthy rivalries and bickering within corporations and discrimination against certain category of customers.
“Currently in Ghana, customer service leaves a lot to be desired,” she said. “The situation has made customers to accept mediocrity in service delivery.”
Mrs Acquaah-Harrison said this at a presentation on the topic: “Transforming Ghana into a Customer Service Excellence Destination in Africa – challenges and the way forward,” at the Ghana Customer Service Stakeholders’ forum and launch of the Ghana Customer Service Festival 2016.
Mrs Acquaah-Harrison said: “Ghana has been touted as a country with very warm and friendly people, but I dare to say that this is not necessarily true, we are warm and nice to people who will give us something in return or our friends.”
She also said companies had built structures that made it impossible to offer excellent customer service, explaining, that a simple job, which could have been done by one person was divided into about three different departments.
On corruption, she said: “I see that people expect the customer to give them tips or to put it bluntly, bribe them before they do their paid jobs.
“The appalling part is that for some companies, the managers will tell you to find something small for the officer to do his core job, it beats my imagination how that is possible and accepted by customers.”
Mrs Acquaah-Harrison condemned what she called ‘silo mentality’ and unnecessary inter-unit competitions and wrangling rife in work places that saw each unit trying to pull down another in order to look superior.
“This kind of situation unknowingly to the employees and employers will eventually be transferred to the external consumers either by making them wait unduly or not even attended to at all,” she said.
Additionally, political interference in professional work prevented punitive actions against employees who went wrong, she explained.
“Let us assume that someone makes a mistake in delivering a service and the person has to be sanctioned to serve as a caution, we’ll find people immediately linking whoever is involved to one political party or the other and start to support the person who has done wrong and prevent the person from being sanctioned,” she noted.
Such situations, she stated, deterred people from learning and doing things right because they had “imaginary” shelter that made them ‘untouchable’.
“The untouchables are huge stumbling blocks to delivering excellent services service,” she said.
She urged aggressive public education, institutionalisation of customer service in schools, adoption of technology in service delivery, change in attitude and the need for companies to relook at their strategies in customer service to improve Ghana’s corporate image to be able to woo more investors.
“We need to be up and doing when it comes to customer service so we can attract foreign players to even help our economy to grow, all the economies we compare with Ghana create the enabling environment for others to come in and operate,” she said.
She declared: “But if I know that getting an electricity meter in my office when I go to invest in Ghana will take three months, after I have given an envelope to someone, I will not even bother.”