Whenever you dial 180 -- the MTN Nigeria customer care helpline -- have you ever wondered how the company manages the customer care responsibility of its millions of subscribers nationwide?
I got the answer when I discovered iSON BPO, the company behind MTN Nigeria's call centre. Located in an ultramodern facility in the heart of Abeokuta in Ogun State, this company is also in charge of Airtel's customer care. and are in talks with Etisalat.
As the business processing outsourcing (BPO) arm of iSON group; one of Africa’s largest IT and ITeS (Information Technology enabling Service) companies; iSON BPO services include technical support, customer acquisition, web-based services market research and customer service among others.
On a mini tour of the Abeokuta call centre, there were thousands of call centre representatives all tending to calls and resolving customer issues in a flurry of activities.
The call centre is divided into a higher and lower echelon of sorts. The higher part had the gold, platinum and sapphire while the lower part comprised of silver, bronze and standard.
These sections are divided according to the various customer plans. So the customer care representative that will answer a prepaid customer's call differs from the postpaid customer.
According to Opemipo Alebiosu the Chief Marketing Officer of iSON BPO, the classification is not unfair segregation, it is just a means to resolve the individual needs of customers at a quicker pace.
Doing BPO right
It was surprising that a BPO facility of such magnitude is thriving in Nigeria, considering that the outsourcing culture here is not so popular. In some cases, some Nigeria-based companies that outsource seek the service of BPO companies in India especially.
Alebiosu said that India seemed like the ideal BPO haven because they concentrated on building the industry from infancy and nurtured it into prominence.
Although at a slow pace, the presence of an organization -- Association of Outsourcing Practitioners of Nigeria (AOPN) -- has also helped in the structured positioning of Nigerian companies to compete on a global scale. Alebiosu affirmed that outsourcing injects over $300 million annually into the Nigerian economy, even at this 'obscure' level.
How iSON BPO plans to foster the outsourcing culture in Nigeria
Opemipo Alebiosu noted that collaboration with the AOPN is key in combating the industry challenges. Infrastructure, security, education and government policies are some of the complications that hamper growth within the industry.
Some customer care representatives are ignorant and it sometimes feels like the internet provides more answers for me than talking to a customer care representative.
iSON BPO's way of tackling this is training. Since it launched in 2010, the iSON BPO has seen an increase in staff strength. This translates to constant in-house courses to educate the workers and keep them updated on global trends.
According to iSON BPO they are working to make the resolution of issues reliant on USSD, shortcodes and social media. A prime example was MTN Nigeria's new Self Care App that caters to most of the questions a customer would want to ask a customer care rep over the phone.