The federal government established the Service Compact with All Nigerians (SERVICOM) 14 years ago. In this piece, ANTHONY AWUNOR looks at how the initiative has impacted on effective and efficient service delivery at the nation’s airports and its agencies.
Service delivery is very important in all we do, be it in the public or private places. To institutionalise the concept in the public sector, the federal government established the Service Compact with All Nigerians (SERVICOM) in 2004 to promote effective and efficient service delivery in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
At the outset, government believed Servicom will ensure customer satisfaction and also that it would manage the performance-expectation gap between government and citizens as well as other members of the public, on issues of service delivery. The government did not stop at establishing the initiative but also mandated the Servicom Office to evaluate the performance of MDAs and their compliance to provisions of their Service Charter in their delivery of services to the public.
To execute this mandate, Servicom uses the Servicom Index (SI) which is a set of business-relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that provide a standardised method for measuring and comparing performance against service standards defined by MDAs. It is designed to become the standard method to help agencies of government measure their performance in terms of customer satisfaction and improved service delivery. The Index measures the key influences on service delivery and customer satisfaction as well as the need for feedback and future development.
Amongst the agencies, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) stands out when it comes to organisations that have been able raise the bar in the Servicom Index (SI). For instance, FAAN was one the first organs of government that reviewed and launched its service charter, a development which impressed aviation stakeholders, including the Servicom national coordinator, Mrs. Nnenna Akajemeli who openly applauded FAAN for their high level of compliance.
At the lunch of the service charter in Lagos recently, Akajemeli enjoined other agencies with obsolete service charters, to emulate FAAN and review them, while calling on those who are yet to formulate theirs to do so, as required by the provisions of the executive instrument which set up Servicom.
On his own part, managing director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, who was represented by Engr. Nurudeen Daura, the authority’s director of engineering services, stated that the authority is a customer-centric organization and is totally committed to delivering quality services to her esteemed customers.
While appreciating the Servicom office both at the presidential and organisational level for a job well done, Dunoma charged all stakeholders to make conscious effort at studying, imbibing and implementing the areas pertaining to their respective responsibilities. He described the service charter as a service level agreement that ensures that standards are upheld and sustained, whilst providing an opportunity to customers to report any service failure within the value chain.
FAAN’s successes in this regard is not an overnight job. It was through planning and judicious follow up on set goals. Narrating how the journey started, head of Servicom department of the FAAN, Ebere Okoye had said that the unit was strengthened through hardwork, support from management, planning and dedication from the entire staff of FAAN.
She said “I resumed here in the Servicom department on the first day of January 2015, after I was posted from Port Harcourt where I was working. I came in here at a time Servicom in FAAN was just like it was not existing. The aim of Servicom is to assist passengers and their complaints and difficulties when the need arises. To start with, we began to search the internet to see how it is done. We also liaised with American customers’ services and we started talking with them and a lot of things started happening.
“The first thing I did was the sensitisation and awareness programme which, I took to all the airports in Nigeria. I had the approval of the managing director who was emphatic that we alert all the agencies, both military and paramilitary to appreciate the need and realise the fact that every customer at the airport is a king and therefore, deserves to be served right” Okoye said.
Furthermore, she said “as at that time, there was a report in the media that Nigeria airport was the worst airport in the world. That assumption was because of customers services. As a matter of fact, FAAN has reasonable facilities then because that very time, Stella Oduah was remodeling the airport. In spite of these efforts, it was not appreciated because customers were not served well. So, we realised the fact is not facilities but about serving customers.
“Before Servicom came into existence, in 2004, by the then President Obasanjo, the obvious was that government agencies were not doing what they are supposed to do. That was what prompted Servicom in the first place because the services were inaccessible, they were not customer centric and they were not meeting the needs of the people. So, government noticed they were not serving the public,” Okoye added.
To facilitate customers’ service delivery, Okoye also noted that FAAN recently came up with the Common –User Telephone System. The idea she said, was conceived for customers to be able to reach them. “We applied to the FAAN managing director to provide the telephone system which he did. The system is a 24-hour functional system which is a free phone for any one that is using it. They are positioned in some airports in Nigeria.
“When you come there, you check the number and find out what you want to. At the headquarters like my office now, if you think you are not treated well and you want to call head of Servicom, you can call”, she informed. Despite the giant strides achieved by FAAN through Servicom, Okoye said that they have been faced with a lot of challenges, the greatest being that most Nigerians do not understand what Servicom stands for and what they tend to benefit from it.
LEADERSHIP however, gathered that even the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), apart from its Consumer Protection Department (CPD) has its own Servicom department. This department, it was gathered works in harmony with that of FAAN as both agencies understand that their sole aim is to ensure that services are well provided for the public, irrespective of which agency is directly involved.
For instance, director of Consumer Protection of NCAA, Adamu Abdullahi was quoted as saying that complaints which used to be in thousands have reduced to hundreds in the recent times. Adamu said “yes, there is serious improvement in services and most of the complaints usually were from Arik and we have seen now that there is a new improved Arik.
“Things have changed and those areas of complaints are no longer there because the scheduling of that airline has come down drastically to the extent that they can now manage their schedules. And you see that the complaints have really come down because they don’t lose bags anymore, on time departure and on-time arrival and even their staff have really improved, they now interface with the public in a more jovial manner.
“The pressure was really telling on them before now, it is no longer there. In addition, the education, the more they become educated on the fact that there is a regulation and this is what the regulation says they tend to obey as opposed to formerly when they didn’t even know that regulation existed or pretended not to know. Now, with the ease of doing business policy introduced by the federal government, there is serious improvement; therefore, the complaints have really drastically come down”, he added.
The Servicom programme however, has its own challenges as it is relatively new in this part of the country, even though most advanced countries have adopted it many decades back. The major challenge that is peculiar to almost all the aviation agencies is that a lot of airport users seem not to understand what Servicom stands for.
According to Okoye, “My greatest challenge is that a lot of people are yet to understand this department. Servicom came in in 2004, whereas, it has been the in-thing in some other parts of the world. Coincidentally, when you look at the mission statement of FAAN, you will see “to develop and profitably manage a customer centric” agency there, she said.
“In other words, the people that drew that mission of FAAN were customer centric. But even amongst us, we are still struggling to see the importance of customer service. And management is trying its best but we need fund because with that, we can do more. Another thing is that stakeholders we talk to don’t always comply because you go back and still find them doing the same thing you complained about previously. I want Nigerians and passengers to begin to change and do the right things”, she said.
In confirmation of FAAN’s achievements, particularly in terms of service delivery, the Ministerial Servicom Units (MSUs) of the FAAN amongst other government agencies recently received Servicom award for being the best in year 2017 out of 90 MSUs of the MDAs that are directly supervised by the Servicom Office. In addition, the best Nodal Officers Awards were received by Mrs. Ebele Okoye of FAAN alongside other personnel in various MSUs in the country.
The award presentations were climax of the end-of-year meeting for the National Council of Nodal Officers which was presided over by Mrs. Akajemeli, who commended the award winning Units and Nodal Officers for outstanding performances. She enjoined other MSUs to work harder and conclude on their 2018 work-plan as this would guide the effectiveness of their Servicom units and allow for the implementation of activities that will ensure service improvement in the MDAs so that there is an increase in citizens’ satisfaction with public services.
“We need to rededicate ourselves to our core duties of service improvement for more efficient service delivery; we need to prepare well so that we won’t be taken unaware when the activities lined up for 2018 kick start. This year, we will do greater than we have done before. I want you all to improve in all that you have achieved in 2017. I want us to move forward and be more vibrant as we are looking up to more impactful activities this year,” Akajemeli said.
She mentioned anticipated release of a service-wide circular on strengthening of Servicom, Presidential endorsement and reaffirmation to Servicom as outcomes of a recent visit by Servicom management to Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). The national coordinator disclosed to the Council that plans were underway for the establishment of a Help Desk at the Human Rights Radio station, where members of the public can call to seek redress for their experiences of service failure in MDAs.
“’This is a wakeup call to all of us to be available and proactive as we attend to service delivery issues which will be brought up, so that the objective of the programme as a help desk to dissatisfied service takers is achieved”, she said.
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