Lagos, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous state and popularly referred to as the city that never sleeps. The population of mobile phone users in the state is approximately 11 million people of which about 45% of these people use MTN as their primary telecommunication service provider. MTN is a top service provider in the telecommunication industry, a company that prides themselves as the number one service provider in Nigeria with their popular slogan “Everywhere you go”.
Saturday, October 9, 2021, was a very bright day in Lagos. Many people had woken up to plan for an eventful weekend. A neighbor of mine was up cleaning his grill, that was about to be set into action a couple of hours later as he was hosting a barbecue party later in the day. Kemi, a beautiful bride-to-be was also ready for her big day as she prepared for her church wedding which was to take place at the House on the rock cathedral. Then I personally had plans to go grocery shopping just in time before the premier league matches for the weekend started. Unfortunately for us all, MTN, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunication brand was about to bring to life the famous quote by the German cleric, Thomas Kempis “Man proposes, but God disposes”. On this particular day, MTN played “God”.
Just as I was about checking out from the grocery store, at the point of payment, I was informed that my bank’s service was down for card payment, so I decided to opt for payment via transfer. The shock on my face when I pulled out my phone and saw the phrase ‘No service’ displaying where my provider’s name was supposed to appear, made the cashier who was full of smiles initially, changed her composure and gave a look of someone that was about to be stressed. I was eventually bailed out by someone who offered to pay while we exchanged contacts. At this point, my neighbor who had set his famous grill into action with various forms of proteins sizzling with nice aroma, couldn’t get to reach out to his guests. His only known number was an MTN line, and he couldn’t be reached for directions to the venue of the extravagant barbecue party. He looked dejected for the rest of the day and kept saying his village people didn’t want to see him happy. At about the same time, Kemi who was already in church, had been waiting for her fiancé who was already running 30 minutes late and had the congregation worried. Unknowingly to them, the driver who was bringing him, who relied on the google map for directions, had lost internet connection and they had to make several stops at different junctions to ask for directions. Eventually, he surfaced, and everyone became calm, but Mrs. Amebo couldn’t help but notice how Kemi’s fabulous make-up had started melting on her face from the tension she was made to deal with.
MTN……ARISE, DON’T WASTE MY MONEY
Surprisingly, this series of events didn’t just happen in Lagos, the network downtime happened all over the country, and I can imagine the unimaginable damages this service blackout would have caused. Considering the level of inconvenience and hurt this would have caused their customers, MTN Nigeria didn’t try to be defensive in any way. They came out with their full arsenal of brand communication and ensured they spoke directly about this downtime to their customers. Their CEO, Karl Toriola, released a personal message, apologizing profusely, accepting responsibilities, and assuring customers of no repetition of such occurrence anymore. The company also offered refund of data and airtime that customers had used within a specific date range and also did promotional adverts to pass these messages across.
Eventually, the understanding customers passed a vote of confidence and assured MTN of their loyalty to the brand and it’s been a smooth sail since then…. Well until, who knows the surprise we have waiting for us this coming weekend?