April 9, 2010 by Administrator
Technology is supposed to make life easier, isn’t it?, but at Globacom’s GloWorld shop in Ikeja, Lagos, Glo-staffs and customers are not glowing with pride, especially as the place is bustling with angry customer who came to retrieve their lost Glo-lines. They are frowning with total disgust.
The first time I visited Gloworld Ikeja was March 22nd, two days after my phone was stolen at the computer village. After waiting for 2-hours on a queue, the security guard informed me that my Glo number series (08055) was out of stock and therefore I had to wait for an official announcement that sim-cards were available.
I went online to fish out the telephone number of Glo’s customer care center, and kept on calling back since them. Yesterday, I was informed 08055 sims were now available. One discovery I made during my follow-up calls to GLO’s customer-care lines was that sim-numbers were locked to physical sim-cards. I’ve tried to think through possible advantages of such a network setup from the technical point of view, but I’ve arrived at none.
Yesterday 9th, April, I arrived at GloWorld Ikeja at 8:15am and rather than Glo with Pride for quick and pristine service, I tried to manage my anger and disgust as the clock ticked and ticked. I spent three and a half hours to retrieve my Glo simcard for which I paid only NGN100 (one hundred naira only). Even the Glo staff that later attended to me knew I wasn’t happy.
First was the challenge of seat hustling. Every one had to fill up a Sim replacement form (also available online). I had mine filled already during my previous visit. Every now and then, the security guard would ask new arrivals to submit their forms with attached photocopies of identification documents (Identity card or drivers license, or national ID card). He would take them inside the office to one of the staff, who would either accept(with a check mark) or reject(with an x-mark or a circle drawn) – based on if the photocopy was clear or blurred. As a whole range of IDs were presented, many people were sent packing to get another photocopy.
From seat to seat, I moved towards the door. The time range for attending to each customer varied, while those of us waiting wondered what took people so long. We didn’t know the koko – the network was going up and down. Some cusotmers were extra-unfortunate as they were sent packing even after making it inside to go and get some other documents / fill up the form correctly. From the time I was given a number(#21) to the time I was called inside was a total of 2-hours and 50-minutes.
Now, let us do some mathematics:
- 2-hours and 50minutes for attending to 20-customers = 9-minutes per customer, on an average.
- considering some were sent packing and others took longer than others, we could have an average of 10-minutes spent on a customer. With 5-Glo customer care staff on seat, their productivity after two hours would be 4-customers each. With the consideration of shunters and those who came to show the rest of us that they have connections on GloWorld, lets say 5-customers each.
- If we conclude that each of the 5-Glo staff could attend to 5-customers each within two hours, an 8-work-hours per day calculation would be about 100-customers in total.
This looks quite poor indeed considering that technology is supposed to make life easier, not be a bottle-neck. By the time I was being attended to, there were over 80-people on queue, arguing and raising their voices with the security guard who was confused with the task of arranging people here and there.
It was at the time I got called and was seated that the network malfunctioned again. Perhaps the attendant saw I was a little pissed, she decided to chat me up a little bit. I decided to pour out my dissapointements and observations……. that retrieval of a lost sim-number is not a major issue, its a minor one which should be resolved as fast as possible, especially as customers are piling up in their office and getting angry.
My first grouse was with the form to be filled. I told her the last time I filled such a form was in their surulere office and that I submitted my photo, etc, which I thought should have been uploaded into their “GLO” database for reference purposes. According to her, those infos might have been transferred to the V/I office and wasn’t readily available in Ikeja. For a minute, I imagined that each GLO-Shop had its own database and I might need to go around all the GLO-shops in Nigeria before my details get recorded on GLO-s servers.
Next, I lamented the long queue of waiting people. By the time I was being attended to, with about 80 people on queue, things were getting really messy. The most angry customers were the ones who claimed to have been coming to the GloWorld branch almost everyday since the week before.
Others complained of a day-before visit, and that the security guard promised them front seats when next they show up. Another man lamented having to come all the way from Abeokuta in Ogun state, just to retrieve a sim-card/number. I told the GLO staff I was chatting with that the question in my mind with all the arguments around was: is this how to Glo with Pride?
“Cool temper, cool temper” was all that was ringing in my head. She continued, “that if customers make suggestions, their comments could be taken into consideration”. So I asked for a paper and decided to write something up pending the time the network would be revived. Some of what I wrote and discussed with the customer care lady are the following:
1) sim-number to sim-card locking restriction: sim-numbers are locked to physical sim cards. Therefore, I had to wait for about two weeks for 08055 sim-cards to be available before my number could be assigned to an available 08055 sim. I considered this a disservice, and a revenue loss to the company, considering there would be many sim-cards in their store/stocks which won’t be useful until specific replacement requests arise.
The above setup would create a bottle-neck especially in the process of meeting customers needs, as in immediately.As compared to MTN/Zain where their Customer care personnel would ask you to buy one of their sim-cards, call and give them the number, and they could do an immediate sim swap, Glo’s system is putting a square peg in a round hole.
2) The idea of asking customers to fill up forms for every sim retrieval attempt is so much lame. Its like the Nigerian Police, afther you show them your drivers license, they would still ask you for your name. According to the Glo lady, the identity of the person who wants to retrieve the sim-number/card/pack has to be verified.
question: What if I have to retrieve my sim-number twice a year, I would have filled two forms, and submitted two identity documents. For the fact the first identification detail wasn’t keyed into Glo’s computer systems: my name, picture, identity card scan, DOB(maybe), etc., nobody in Glo can verify that I am the same person who used / retrieved the number 6-months ago or even 2-weeks ago. So indded, security and verification is zero, and it is very possible for a non-sim owner to retrieve another person’s sim-number after claiming he is the owner, and presenting his own identification detail.
Considering that identity cards can be faked, drivers licenses can be “organized” in buisness centers, even our National ID card is not a tenable document in the Nigerian airport, how much more for presentation to a GSM coy.
And rather than use the latest / most frequent called phone numbers as a primary key in determining if I am the owner of the sim, why not store the customer’s picture, at least or ask that a password question / answer be part of the submitted details, like banks do for over-the-phone transactions.
3) if the GSM coy’s want to make life easier for Nigerians, there are surely a hundred and one ways to do so, but will they do it? According to the customer care executive who attended to me, customers have to make complaints, and until then things won’t change. Have I made a complaint, yes I did and I just hope it sees the light of day. I hope by the time customers begin dropping their GLO-lines for other networks, the GLO higher-ups will realize that customers do not have to complain before bottle-necks are removed, service providers have to think ahead of their customers in getting things done.
While I waited for my turn at the GLO-shop, I got chatting with the guy beside me. He told me of a shop somewhere in Ikeja where people could retrieve their lines instantly without going to the GSM customer care shops. He told me that those guys know people on the GSM-insides who help them take care of “buisness” – while they settle each other later on.
I asked for the address. After I was discharged from GLO-Ikeja, I decided to check out this shop, let me call them freelance-sim-retrievers. Lo and behold, the place was also bustling with people going in and out, retrieving lines of all networks: GLO, Zain, MTN, etc. The fee was NGN500 (Five hundred Naira). They would give you a sim-card instantly, and tell you they will do the sim swap within 30mins. I even made enquiries about retriving my lost sim. The lady said I could pay NGN500, was in the process of handing me a new GLO-sim pack, asking me what my old number was and what numbers I called before the number was lost. I told her I’ll be back. Perhaps next time, I would avail of their services, rather than spending hours at the GLO-shop for the same service.
Narrating my ordeal for the day to a friend at work after I got back, he confirmed the freelance-sim-retrievers activities, and even said they are more efficient than the people at GLOworld Ikeja, although more expensive. He even told me the last times he had to retrieve his GLO and MTN lines, he patronized the freelance guys. The question is: how is the NGN500 / sim-replacement revenue shared between GLO, the GLO-staff insiders who work hand in hand with the freelance-sim-retrievers? Won’t this contribute to the lack of productivity of GloWorld shops across the nation considering that their support personnel would rather be attending to the freelance guys rather than their own staff.
Reversal of fortune maybe, anything for the money. Anyway, thats buisness for you in Nigeria.