God is Good Motors (GIGM) is a leader in interstate transport in Nigeria. A Nigerian resident who is not familiar with the company is one who does not take interstate road trips.
The company, which is headquartered in Edo State, has been around since the early days with the Chiscos, Ekene Dili Chukwus and Peace Mass Transits (PMT). Childhood journeys to the village were peppered with experiences with some of the aforementioned transport companies. Most of them created comfortable rest stops complete with television, convenience and some even provided light refreshment for travelers waiting to board.
When air travel became affordable and started becoming an option for the masses, some of these companies relented in their customer satisfaction efforts where you expected them to do the exact opposite. But no, not God is Good Motors. They doubled efforts, beautified existing terminals and built new ones across Lagos.
The company's innovation culture is a long-standing tradition that saw them churn out a high-quality TV advert 4 years ago in 2012; a time when it was unheard of for a player in that sector to do so.
Some animated videos and other short adverts followed on TV and YouTube. So I was not surprised when a God is Good Motors App debuted in April 2016.
There was another 30-second Instagram formatted video where a member of the beard gang confidently
lied enthused that in the time it took you to watch the advert, you would have booked a bus on the GIGM app.
Never mind that I couldn't book a ride on the app in 5 minutes or even 10 minutes when I tried. But in terms of innovation, God is Good Motors is foremost in the road transportation sector and even among some traditionally non-tech companies.
With different attention to customer satisfaction, effective social media reach, spectacular video adverts, even celebrity endorsements and of course the app that doesn't deliver as promised but still works all the same.
The malnourished internal customer
In our review of the Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo, the internal and external customers were identified as essential to the success of any brand. They are both important but the internal customer which is your staff is the key.
A brand needs members of its team to be in sync with its message and here essential communication comes into play. GIGM seems to want to do right by their external customers -- passengers -- but the internal customer that is their staff do not seem to have gotten the memo.This leads me to an unsavoury experience I had last year.
One Friday in November of last year, I arrived a GIGM terminal by 5:30 am, bought a ticket for the 7.00 am bus to Enugu. I hoped to leave early to be on time for preparations for a cousin's wedding on Saturday. It was 7 o’clock and our ride was nowhere in sight; apparently they had taken more passengers than the buses on ground and were hoping for a miracle.
After lying to us for hours, our fares were eventually returned by 10:30 am. I was livid. The manager left us alone to be "showing ourselves" (his own words) after flinging a perfunctory sorry in our faces.
We were treated like option-less beggars; rudely and without consideration. This personal experience and a couple of others from friends informed of a wide disparity between the flashy terminals, well-dressed staff and customer service values. Oh, I left Lagos by 12 pm that day with another carrier.
One, two, three or even five instances of
bad horrible customer service seems insufficient to dent a brand's image and ultimately its client base, right? But it sure is, one is even more than enough to send bad report abroad like wildfire. After all bad news travels faster and can shatter all the previous good deeds in just a matter of time.
The transport giant apparently has good intentions but is fighting a losing battle with proper implementation. It is a colossal conflict of interests to focus on the external customers and ignore the internal ones.
Prepping employees to be friendly with clients/customers and providing excellent customer service are some of the pain points that every business must resolve or lose to competition. No matter what structures are put in place, if the customer is not satisfied, they would not come back. It is the Apple Experience.
The company needs to get people persons and drum its values into them. Innovative rebranding is more than a superficial external facade that entails air-conditioned terminals and well-suited staff. If God is Good Motors as a brand seeks to truly innovate and be a market leader, then a sanitation and overhaul of its internal customers is in order.