Customer Service in Ghana and Your Role: The Case of Vodafone Ghana

I have been offline at home for two weeks and after multiple interactions with my broadband distributor, Vodafone Ghana, I feel compelled to write about my experiences. This is not a new topic for me, or for many other bloggers (last year, for instance I wrote about the upside to Ghanaian Customer Service) but I wanted to show some examples of how you can use social media for improving on customer service and faster reaching your goal.

1. Take it to social media.

The official routes of complaint (going to the office to report the issue and calling Customer Care) had little effect, so after a week my husband told me, why don’t you Tweet this? Within hours we had a response. The accounts I used were @vodafoneghana & @askvodafonegh On Facebook, I got friends to share their experiences. Yesterday, I live tweeted my call to customer service. I am now blogging about it. Hopefully, someone who is on charge of customer care at Vodafone will see this. The chance is bigger than if I just moan at home.

2. Always record the name of the customer service attendant you are in contact with.

Thus far, we have made around 12 contacts with Vodafone (plus friends at Vodafone seeing online complaints and stepping in). For the record it is good to know who promised what. I realise customer service people in Ghana are very reluctant to give out last names or direct numbers (maybe for good reasons), but insist on a first name.

3. Be persistent and claim your rights.

I believe that a pricy service must have excellent customer service. For 180 GHC ($90) per month, I expect my broadband to work every day. Two weeks interruption for what ever reason is unacceptable. I have not hesitated to remind customer service personel what I am paying for their service and what effects it not working has on my work.

4. Talk to friends

When I discuss my problem with friends on and offline it seems many have had similar experiences. It has encouraged me and I have also gotten hints on what to do. Some of my friends even work at Vodafone and have taken steps of me – talk about committed employees! (or very good friends…or both).

5. Educate the company

On Tuesday after 13 days without my broadband, I was offered a backup system. Although a dongle is not the same as unlimited broadband, I think this was a nice gesture. However, the information was we had to drive to the Accra office to pick it up during office hours. Travelling to a different town to belatedly get some help and also sacrificing work (the round trip is about 3 hours) is unreasonable. And so I told the company. Their attitude changed and yesterday they instead asked for my address.

Last month, the Third Customer Service Week was held in Ghana. Companies like Nest of Ideas do Customer Service Training. There is also a Gimpa Course in Customer Service Management. Clearly companies in Ghana are in a learning stage when it comes to customer service and I am hopeful.

However, I think customers have an important role to play. We need to use social media to highlight what is not working, be persistant and educate the companies on what we expect. I understand telecommunications companies in Ghana have many challenges and I appreciate their efforts at delivering customer service, for instance I think the Vodafone Twitter account @askvodafonegh is commendable. Through out the two weeks I have been in touch with Vodafone I have seen customer service systems change before my eyes!

What do you think, is customer service in Ghana improving?




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One Week at Citi FM: The Report

Last week I wrote about looking forward to my Grown Woman Internship with Citi FM:

I grew curious how they work behind the scenes – how do they prepare? How much time goes into each show? What best practises do they have to share as a successful team? How do they keep their enthusiasm when uncovering so much hardship?

Now (or rather last week, but an unfortunate issue involving ECG stopped me from posting it then), I have spent a week with the Citi Breakfast Show at Citi FM and I have to say I am the wiser for it. I did not get complete answers to all my questions, but I got a start and also many other insights. Before I get to my initial questions, here are my notes from the week:

Monday. Shocked by the chaos and the apparent ad hoc-ness of determining what happens on air. People who are coming on seem to be called the same morning or, more often, call in themselves. Learned the word “plotting”, that is planning the show by the producer of the show, Sanda. The morning was dominated by an accident blocking morning traffic into Accra and was it the man selling his girlfriend for ritual murder-story? I talked to Deputy News Editor Boakye about the news and his work schedule in the newsroom. I had a high pulse the whole morning. Talked to journalist/host Godfred over lunch. I was asked to do some research on “The real cost of Ghana’s brain-drain”.

Tuesday. Was going to be a show on values, but due to the Transparency International corruption perception index coming out, it became a show about corruption. Started to realize how much current affairs sway the content of the show. Production assistant Fred commented on my frequent tweeting.  After the show, TV program “Who’s behind” from ViaSat came to interview Bernard. That is after him spending 4 hours on air. He was still smiling. Had a talk with co-host Nhyira and production assistant/journalist Pearl.

Wednesday. Many of the institutions mentioned as corrupt had gotten in touch and the show was supposed to be a follow up of that, but a discussion on corruption in the media and an animated interview with the opposition shifted the topic. After having done extensive live-tweeting for a few days, I was asked to do twitter training with Citi people. Had lunch with a Canadian journalist from a Human Rights organization spending 6 months in the newsroom and turned in my Brain-Drain report. Hopefully, it will be the basis of a Citi Breakfast Show to come!

Thursday. We did not really know what topic to go on, the news was a bit scattered and did not provide a clear direction. I took part in the discussion. A news item on three young robbers started a discussion on the reasons behind very young criminals and a discussion on youth unemployment ensued. I quickly did some research and found  some statistics of youth unemployment in Ghana (65% in 2011 according to the World Bank) and some reasons according to academic research.  Within minutes those facts were read on air. I had lunch with two of my former students from Ashesi who were also interns at the station and compared notes. I partook in a Facebook training in the afternoon.

Friday. The morning started with a discussion on traditional practices stepping in where the state and judiciary system should be, I think a rape case in the news was the starting point of the talk. But then we compared notes and realized that no one had been able to make a call on MTN since last evening and the “plotting” turned to what we can do with this. Just complain? Bernard said he wanted answers and the producers started calling up the telcos. I started a discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #dearghtelcos and then things went crazy….People from #YaleConfGH stopped by to do promotion. At least two of these guests are on every day. As a cherry on top of my week, hosts Bernard and Nhyira did a mini interview with me on air. During the weekly Friday meeting for the team Co-host Nana Ama put a question straight to me, “Kajsa, you have been here for a week now, what do you think?” For the team to want my opinion was a golden moment for me!


Answers to my questions:

How do they prepare?

I learned in the reverse they “plot” on Fridays for the week, but then stay flexible to be relevant. They are four, sometimes five hosts in the studio and all of them spend hours every day reading news, features and books. In the morning before the show starts, they “plot” the show of the day, but frequently defer from it.


How much time goes into each show?

Do I know this? I am not sure they even know themselves as, I was surprised to find out, for all of the crew,  the City Breakfast Show  (airing 6-10am on weekdays) is NOT a full time job. All of the hosts, including the main host Bernard have jobs at the station our outside. For instance Nana Ama is the Online Editor and Bernard the Operations Manager of the station.


What best practises do they have to share as a successful team?

  1. They start everyday with a meeting and end every week with a meeting. – I think this is important as it creates a frame within which they can be creative.
  2. They are experts in their various fields. – They find a way to efficiently mill through heaps of data and be up to date on many fronts.
  3. They are young. – The whole station seem like a very young workplace and the vibrancy of workers allow for high tempo and fresh thinking.


How do they keep their enthusiasm when uncovering so much hardship?

They have a mission to influence Ghanaians and change Ghana. They aim to make radio that get results and they are getting there. I found it interesting, that people in power call them every day to explain themselves! That in an environment where we complain there is little accountability! Privately, some of them have faith, others family to fall back on, because Chale every day, it is a new, horrible story.


What did I learn?

  • As always, you learn more about yourself than anything else when stepping out of your comfort zone. It was really nice to be at an organization without any money changing hands, formal agreement, I felt no stress to perform. Ahhhh.
  • I also learned, I love the news room pressure – that vibe, that “the deputy minister is on the phone”, “Wait, I have the police on the other line!”, “Can you get me numbers?”, “What did the Graphic say about this? Quick!”  – it is addictive!
  • I also found I quickly assert myself and participate. I had planned to “be a fly on the wall”, but discussions were just too interesting not to take part of.
  • Finally, I like how Twitter and Facebook also allows you into a discussion that might be held on air. On Friday, we saw how many “listeners” follow through social media when in 15 minutes 80 comments flowed in via Facebook. Clearly, there is much more to explore in the Social Media/Radio interface in Ghana.

One of my readers pointed me to this article on taking an internship at the age of 30. The writer suggests being an intern after a certain age “can seem like a step backward or even feel a bit embarrassing”, and I guess it can. But then again , why should we always step forward and upward? In the wisdom of Ghanaian folklore, “Sankofa” or “go back and fetch it” suggests that we have much to learn from that which lies behind us!

In hindsight, doing a Grown Woman internship with my idols at Citi FM was a great idea, an exciting week and absolutely a learning opportunity for life!

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“Dumsor-Dumsor”: Electricity and Productivity in Ghana

Last year, Ghana was among the fastest growing economies in the world. That was while supply of electricity or “light” as we say here, was patchy at best, but often cut off according to a “load shedding schedule” every other or every two days for 6-12 hours (dumsor-dumsor refers to the sound when light go off in an entire area).

I have a “tag” here on my blog for power problems (16 posts so far, 17 with this one!), set up in 2007, the year I moved to Ghana. Then load shedding was every other day. I remember it vividly as we used to go to a movie place, pay 50 pesewas to sit in a room with fans, pay no attention to whatever movie was on and go home when the dark had made the temperature drop slightly.

This week, the World Bank came out with a report “Energizing Economic Growth in Ghana” on how we could avoid being here again in 5 years time. There is nothing really new in the report, actually on radio the World Bank guy said it was 90% the same report presented in 2010! However, it made me think:

Where would Ghana be in terms of politics, creativity, productivity, growth and well being if Dumsor-Dumsor was a thing of the past?

The only sector partially thriving from dumsor-dumsor or dumso-dumso is the music industry churning out songs on the topic, one is embedded at the top!

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Computer Meltdown

Over the last month, my darling computer has slowly gone to an eternal rest. At first, the battery was lasting for shorter and shorter periods. Then it was suddenly shutting down. Repeatedly. Then in addition it did not allow me to watch video.  At some point, my lap-top was more like a unreliable desk-top. And now since a few days it does not start at all. I am missing everything about it and trying to adjust to a work computer with a different operating system for now.

A blog related challenge is that I always attach pictures to my blog posts and most of my pics are now locked up in a hard drive I cannot access (no worries, I have back up). For now, that means posts without pictures (and with a slightly sad undertone).

My darling computer, you are missed!

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Ghana Internet Governance Forum: An Eyewitness Report

This morning, I decided to stop by the Ghana Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT. It is a local stakeholder forum to discuss issues for Internet governance and it were to start with a session on youth and Internet governance. As one of the panelists was running late, I was called upon to talk. I quickly decided to focus on two issues that I feel are important and inter-related:

  • Access  to Internet in Ghana – currently only 18% of Ghanaians have access to the net, the bulk of this group on their phones. Internet access is expensive and limited to urban areas. For youth to gain access in their numbers this has to change.
  • Production of local content – at the moment, Ghanaians consume the Internet rather than create it. We need to write more articles, upload more photos and videos. Blogging could be one way. How can youth be encouraged to create local content? (here I returned to the issue of affordable access)

With me on the podium was GhanaBlogging members Gameli, Amma and Mac-Jordan along with moderator Godfred Ahuma, coordinator of the Ghana IGF.  The discussion was interesting and involved government agencies and their (non-) usage of social media, Sakawa or Internet fraud, Twitter vs. tv-news, if you have a right to be forgotten online/managing your online presence and what we want from the service providers (Philip Sowah of Airtel Ghana was listening when I listed 1) SMS to Twitter, 2) higher speed Internet and 3) cheaper access for a larger customer base).

I left the program early, party because no Internet access was provided in the venue(!), so missed out on deliberations on Internet governance for development and importantly affordable access and diversity.

You can follow the proceedings on Twitter, #GhIGF. Hopefully pictures will come soon.

Update: Read a report from one of the other panelists at Gameli’s World. Photo credit to the same source!

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Ghana in Swedish Media: A Success Story

Yesterday, my good friend Ylva Strander from Meltwater Entepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) was in one of the Swedish main dailies as “She educates IT entrepreneurs in Ghana” (article in Swedish).

It was not the first time over the last few weeks that Ghana was mentioned in Swedish media. TV-reporter Erika Bjerström has recently reported about both the mobile phone industry and the the “oil boom” in Ghana in a series that chronicles “the new Africa”. See below! (Voice over in Swedish/interviews in English, beautiful pictures of Ghana).

Common for all of these news are their inherent positive angle. It is talked about technology in relationship to ethics and democracy, the business opportunities and the amazing economic growth.

Is this a fluke or a trend shift in reporting from Africa?

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What Does My Mobile Phone Say About Me?

Recently,  I have been thinking about upgrading my current phone (a very plain Nokia) to something sexier, for the following reasons:

  1. My address book on the old phone is full – who should I delete next time I need to take a number?

  2. On the oldie, I cannot send text messages in Swedish (and to be honest barely in English)

  3. I only yesterday found out what it really means to BBM someone (for you who ase as ignorant as I was but to not dare to ask: Sending a Message to another BlackBerry owner – for free!)

  4. I have not updated my Twitter status for weeks now because of Internet fire walls

  5. I love to update my Twitter status

I guess it also helped when I came across this article on the effect your phone has on your “personal brand”. I was hoping my personal brand would be shaped by this blog and myself IRL, I must admit I never thought about what  people think when I drag out my “yesterday phone” and say YELLO?

Well, so far I have not seen too many raised eyebrows (maybe my personal brand fits like a glove with an old Nokia, haha) and my phone has been functional in that it does the “phone things” well – rings, dials, charges fast etc.

Also, I am never scared of being mugged, but rather pity the fool who will then be left with a well used low range Nokia and look forward to having a real reason to go buy a new mobile…

But lets entertain the thought that I need a new phone – which one goes with my image? A Chris Blattman iPhone, an Adventures From BlackBerry, a – who really has an – android (Graham?), a E.K. Bensah OGO device or something else?

Photo borrowed from Fonearena.

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>BarCamp Ghana ’09 is On

So, now it’s official: I am making my BarCamp debut early next week! The Ghanaian version of this world wide “unmeeting” is taking place at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in East Legon, Monday the 21st December the whole day. See more information about the event here.

Although the strange name of this happening suggests something as scary as “camp”, I am still excited about the free meeting format and three more things.

1. It looks like ghanablogging will be holding a session about forming real life groups from online communities.

2. The organizing group this year are much more locally anchored compared to in 2008 when (it seemed like?) all organizers came from abroad.

3. The founder and president of Ashesi University, Patrick Awuah is giving the keynote address, and he is a very good speaker! As he is also my boss, that part of the BarCamp will be like a regular day at work…:-)

Hope to see some of you there!

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>New Poetry Blog: Soursweet Ghana

>Last week, I got a chance to do to an impromptu presentation on blogging to a room filled with young women. I wrote on it here.

Tonight, I got an email from Lizzy, a woman who was there and inspired by the talk started her own blog!

She has chosen to present her beautiful poetry combined with stylish photos (her own?) to illustrate the feel. I like the the poems because they discuss common literary themes like the village and the rose, but in a way that carefully avoids clichés. Here’s a passage that I enjoyed particularly:

The sun was to be married
Her groom was the moon
Though they met often they never got married
For their meeting brought darkness

The name of the blog is also intriguing: “Soursweet Ghana”. Find it here.

I’m so happy I could inspire to this!

Pic from the above-mentioned Women and ICT event.

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>Ghana, Women and ICT

> Today, I attended an interesting meeting at the AITI-KACE in Accra on Women and ICT in Ghana.

In a country where general access to computers and Internet is low, women tend to be underrepresented in ICT professions (except when it comes to data entry). However in Nigeria, AITI-KACE’s Director General Dorothy Gordon informed us, many ICT classes are totally made up of women and many women in our neighboring country have their own IT companies. Some have even set up IT companies in Ghana!

How can Ghanaian women catch up?

The young educated women in the crowd shared with us that they mostly use computers, many had them in their homes, for checking email and social networking, like facebook.

I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to on the spot present, the aggregator – or list – of Ghanaian blogs I started with a friend back in 2008. I also mentioned two Ghanaian blogs that could serve as inspiration for women who were interested in creating content on the web, rather than just consuming it:

Esi’s blog Wo Se Ekyir and
Nana Darkoa and Co’s blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women.

The response was great, people wanted to know more about and how to start their own blog, so now I am invited to AITI-KACE’s Inspiration days 7-8 Oct to talk more about blogging.

Anyone out there who wants to join me in spreading the gospel of blogging?

In the pic some of the participants at the meeting and Dorothy Gordon, Director for the AITI-KACE.

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>Forward Ever, Backwards Never

> Exhausted by the Nkrumah celebrations, I return to the blog with some less than monolithic notes about my daily life, hope thats ok…

Thursday and Friday are my days for research (Mon-Wed I teach and prepare for class or grade stuff) but so far very little research has been done since University of Ghana has not yet gotten back to me on my PhD application. I note my own naiveté in this post from 2007, when I thought the application process would be swift. Ha.

Here is the full story (well, minus all the trips I’ve taken to “check on my application”): I submitted in March. The university then extended the application period with a month. Sigh. Then the Graduate School went on vacation, then they had to check if my application was complete (it was), then it was sent to the department I wish to study at – Institute of African Studies. The semester started. Then their board met to discuss the graduate proposals, I believe that was on the 2nd of September, so now I don’t know what they are waiting for.

I intend to go there today to find out and push my fate. Forward ever, backwards never.

Then I’m having lunch with a very interesting friend and maybe a meeting with Gordon of Aedhotep Developments that I wrote on here.

Later in the afternoon, 3-5 PM there is a meeting on Women and ICT at Kofi Annan Center for Excellence (AITI-KACE). Lets see if I make it there, it does sound interesting.

In the pic, me at University of Ghana in March of last year after starting my application by beginning on my proposal…

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>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 2)

>Landmarks in concrete.

The Cocoa Silos

The Kwame Nkrumah Motorway

One of these monolithic structures were never used. The other is the backbone of the Greater Accra economy.

I amuse myself with thinking about if the two had been used – and developed – since the 1960s.

What do you think, does it matter?

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