‘’Customer Service’’…The NAIJA Way

The bustling of people and intermittent movement of bodies to the band playing was suddenly interrupted by a foreign smell. I didn’t have to wait long as that smell came from the armpit of the hand which was, stretched over my head, making a grab for my glass goblet…which I was still using by the way…..**swish**

I made a quick dash for the glass goblet to save it first from this intruder who wanted to steal it even though I had content inside, but more importantly to ensure that my glass wasn’t infected by finger stains….Phew!!! Saved but I am peeved that my nostrils were assaulted, my mood disrupted and generally just a bit irritated with the whole incident.

10mins later, same Glass thief can be seen wriggling his waist to the Nigerian music blasting from the DJ’s speakers while forgetting that he is a vendor at this event, and not a Visitor like the rest of us. ***eyes rolling***

This is the unfortunate familiarity that many party goers at OWAMBE parties experience and the service (vendor) industry has failed, and continues to fail us.

Is this for lack of regulation for an industry that has grown exceedingly in the past 10years (& counting) OR is a case of careless abandonment? Maybe a mixture of both, but WE need to cry out for help as it’s now a norm.

So here is a classic example…someone spends millions of hard earned money to throw their child a birthday party, or the bigger one — A WEDDING CEREMONY. Engages different vendors who range from food, drinks, the usual cocktails, small chops and the list goes on. Gets a venue, which in most scenarios is a HALL (plenty paper as my Naija lingua will permit me to say) with terms of use and clear emphasis on closing time…maybe 8pm-ish or thereafter. Then D-day arrives, party is starting well, usual drama of Band versus DJ; who gets more playtime so their balance gets paid, guests who didn’t attend the church service (if it’s a Christian wedding) or Nikkai ceremony (if it’s a Muslim one) start trooping in from 2pm. They sometimes struggle to get a seat either due to the teeming number of guests or nonchalant hostesses who forget they are there to work…

Part 2…. How do I get food??? Meanwhile I saw a long list of food & drink vendors lined up on my way in who had exotic food, then some of the waiters run after a nicely dressed AUNTY who marches straight to a table somewhere in front to give other guests…. God help me that I know the party owner, or fortunate to sit at the popular table, else I might not even be served at this PARTY.

Part 3…It’s just 6pm and the party has really just kicked off…there is a switch over from Band to DJ and the larger crowd is excited. But, suddenly there is an onslaught of bad smells from sweaty waiters, hall decorators etc who decide that, because some seats are empty, it is the best time to remove table covers, seat covers , glasses etc. They don’t just stop there, they come to your table and make an attempt to grab the food you might still be eating without having the decency to ask if you are done; or lifting glasses (in use or empty) right in front of you; glasses that you may use if you are fortunate enough to be given the bottle of wine you are hoping, entitled, to get…..

The final blow is when they come in their numbers and start dancing with you on the dance floor; in front of you, blocking your view, in corners of the hall in a rowdy manner, drinking the wine YOU the invited guest couldn’t get and, finally, getting drunk.

All this is happening within the acceptable timeline that the hall owners have communicated that you are allowed to host your party (the one YOU paid for).

So guests who trickle in after 6pm are subjected to a half dressed hall, empty seats or stacked up chairs; and you who might have gotten there earlier will be forced to leave early as the interpretation of this chaos is that the party is OVER!!!…. Note that the bride, groom and possibly the party sponsor are still gyrating on the dance floor ….

There are different versions to this madness but I am certain a lot of Nigerians, mostly those living in Lagos, have experienced this GROSS INEPTITUDE from the people who take our money (very expensive I must add), and give us the shorter end of the stick as they hire untrained, unsupervised personnel and there seems to be no action geared towards changing this behavior….

I, therefore, charge all persons who regard themselves as Able Event coordinators (planners, caterers, vendors, waiters, hostesses,Musicians, DJ’s) and receive a fee for delivering such service(s) that there MUST be a collective drive for EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE DELIVERY and failure to provide this will attract the wrath of the Paying Nigerian who deserves much, much, much better…..