The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) in partnership with Elevato and Associates, a consumer rights advocate, on Wednesday held seminar, on ‘Competition and Consumer Growth in the Nigerian Business Landscape’, where they stressed on the need for organisations to treat consumers right.
They likewise launched Holler, a free platform where consumers would have the opportunity to give feedbacks on a product and lay complains about their experience using a product or services.
In her welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer, Elevato and Associates, Marie-Therese Phido, said the objective of the seminar was to tackle and bring to fore competitive and consumer advocacy issues affecting commerce and customer satisfaction in the Nigerian business landscape.
According to her, “Organisations that focus on ensuring the best interest of its consumers are achieved, have a better chance of them reciprocating with their trust and enduring loyalty.
“However, given the conventional consumer relationships today, organisations and service providers struggle to deliver the desired goal of good customer service and satisfaction to their customers.
“As we all know, customer satisfaction is widely regarded by scholars and practitioners as an important predictor of customer loyalty, which we do not always see in Nigeria. Due to the quality of service received.
“In view of the above and in recent times in Nigeria, consumer rights awareness and competition are gaining grounds. Customers are becoming aware of their rights, demanding that their rights are respected.
“They are now protesting market abuses and social injustice which affect them as consumers and all of these affect customer growth.”
Speaking on Holler, she described the initiative as a free online customer review platform. She likewise said it was an “Interface where customers can review the services they receive, know that the review will be available to them as required and can be viewed for reference and channeled to the organisation and appropriate authority for immediate remediation.”
She concluded that the platform works with organisations and key stakeholders to ensure that the customer and the service provider relationship in Nigeria is, “optimal and focused on better customer experience for all.”
In his keynote address, the Director General, FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, stressed the need democratise experience in terms of the protection of consumers in the Nigerian market space. He also revealed that brand protection was equally as important as consumer protection.
According to him, “Consumer protection is a dual role for the government, first as facilitators and secondly as commercial police. However, brand protection equally of importance in consumer protection.
“And also we must democratise experience and protection of customers. Because there are barely any manufacturer who doesn’t know how to treat a customer right, even though not all practice it, but they know it.
“And those that aren’t treating customers right isn’t due to lack of knowledge, but an informed decision not to do the right thing.
“And these are things that we must look into and ensure that consumer’s rights are protected and their cries are treated. But at the same time, we should do this without stopping businesses from thriving.
“We must develop a frame work that democratises benefits and profits. Government can’t do it alone, so Holler is doing a great job by covering a lot of grounds.
“And lastly I would charge that we must understand consumer protection not from an activism standpoint, but from a business and commerce standpoint, only then can there be balance and progress in consumer protection, and economical growth.”
Other speakers however spoke on the importance of data in commerce and consumer protection.
According to the CEO of E-Trend, Olaniyi Toluwalope, “technology today, is driving commerce. It has better facilitated several aspects of commerce ranging from seamless payment platforms, to simplification of manufacturing processes. Let us be data driven.”
Continuing, Irukera, said, “we also must find a way to democratise data.”
According to him, “73 percent of African countries have no data protection law. There is nothing called artificial intelligence, it’s just human.
“Artificial intelligence is people’s lives and privacy being invaded. What we consider artificial intelligence is rape. Data in itself is both a product and a consumer. But then, how can we democratize data without it been portable.
“We must be able to access it easily from anywhere and move around with it without stress. It is from data gathering that innovations are made. So, it really matters that we begin to care about how best we use the little data at our disposal for the benefits of all.”