A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF SERVICE QUALITY IN NIGERIA’S SERVICE INDUSTRY.

In a single move in 2015, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) slapped a major telecommunications service provider in Nigeria with a fine, up to the tune of $5.2 bn. Some experts considered such a fine too high and according to Roger Enter, of Recon Analytics based in Dedham, Massachusetts “ …this (fine) is far beyond anything that has ever been levied- by magnitude”.

But to the average Nigerian in the street, there was a perceived triumph; believing that the country’s telecommunications regulatory body was getting up to its feet, and meeting up to responsibility by dealing a hard blow on service providers who have constantly undermined service quality. In a report by one of the nation’s digital platforms, a correspondence, Mr Chinyere Obudike, an estate agent, said: “… I believe the commission has done well to impose this fine on the (service provider) we are no longer in the era when service providers can cheat customers and escape.”

Ironically, the fine was not consequent upon the constantly poor services rendered by the telecommunication company, but rather, for failing to meet the deadline to deactivate unregistered Sims. Notwithstanding, the Nigerian populace just wanted any form of punishment that would serve as a deterrent for years of poor quality service delivery.

Service Quality is a comparison of Expectations with performance. Quality of service is a strategic organizational weapon, an essential tool in service delivery in any industry. It is an assessment of how well a delivered service conforms to the client’s expectation; expectations which are usually influenced or determined by factors such as recommendations, personal needs and past experiences. Clients and customers have a picture of what they really want, they know when a service meets up with their expectations and when it does not. When a service is delivered to meet customers’ expectations, it is referred to as Service quality, and when it reaches and even exceeds, it is called High-Quality service.

Since independence, the Nigerian citizenry has had to grapple with a poor and very corrupt government that has failed to render basic services like efficient electric power distribution or clean and constant water supply. This kind of situation which has lingered for several decades has to a great extent affected the expectations of an average Nigerian for quality of service from the nation’s service providers.

It is not uncommon for customers to be billed even when they have not enjoyed power supply for that period. Arbitrary billing Irrespective of poor service delivery is a factor that continues to plague electricity consumers in Nigeria. Since the privatization of the Power industry, Fixed-charges which Electricity distribution companies say are intended to allow for the recovery of costs associated with fixed investments, are on a constant rise. The Nigerian electricity regulatory commission (NERC), established as an independent regulatory agency in October 2005 to carry out the basic duty of monitoring and regulating the electricity industry in Nigeria has yet to live up to expectations.

The situation of water supply is a total replica of the situation with electricity in the country. Services rendered are of very poor quality if at all available, yet consumers are charged frivolously for services not rendered.

The private sector has taken a leaf from the public sector and their services are not very much different from what is seen in the public sector, and Nigerians are becoming hopelessly docile in pursuing service quality, believing poor service is normal.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was empowered to establish minimum quality of service (QoS) standards in service delivery for the communications industry. But these standards have always been flouted by communication companies. It is a usual phenomenon to have your calls not connecting or text messages not delivered yet you are billed, you would recharge your phone and you would be debited for no reason, and when you try to reach their customer care service, they are always too busy to attend to you. Adeseko Ayeni 2007 “ (phone) call failure is a prominent feature of the relatively new Nigerian GSM mobile telephone system and has become a nuisance’.

The Banking industry seen as one of the most corporate industries in Nigeria is not excluded from the picture. Most times, customers would have to open at least more than one bank account in different banks due to uncertainties with bank services. No wonder Nigerians have an eye mostly for foreign-made goods and services which they believe meets expectations better than what is attainable in Nigeria.

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