The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said consumers in the telecommunications market have become so sophisticated that engaging them is now over and above the use of traditional media alone.
The telecom regulator stated this while inaugurating a 12-member Committee, which has been saddled with the responsibility of harmonizing all its existing consumer outreach programmes.
“As market and service complexity has grown and consumers become more sophisticated, there has also been an uptake in the use of non-traditional media to both engage with the Commission and to seek redress,” said Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja.
Adewolu noted that engaging the consumers is presently done more on online, especially via social media channels, recalling that licensees, particularly the mobile network operators (MNOs), just like the regulator now have 24/7 response teams manning their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms so as to instantly respond to consumers.
The committee is chaired by Ismail Adedigba, Head, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the Commission in Abuja, and will also develop a more impeccable way to effectively manage consumer complaints received from the Commission’s online media platforms.
Adewolu said the protection of the consumers of telecoms and ancillary services is one of the primary statutory responsibilities of the NCC. Thus, the Commission has, over the years, deployed a number of consumer engagement platforms in addition to other direct and indirect channels for consumers to seek information on the products and services offered by telecom licensees.
While underscoring how critical the Committee’s work is to the future of the Commission, the Executive Commissioner said as a regulator, the NCC cannot be left behind. We must carefully coordinate the activities carried out through the traditional engagement channels and the social media platforms in order to effectively and efficiently deliver on the Commission’s mandate of Protecting, Informing and Educating (PIE Mandate) the consumers” in line with the cost-cutting measures prescribed by the Federal Government.
The Committee’s Terms of Reference reeled out by Adewolu include Review of existing consumer affairs outreach programmes with a view to coming up with improved ways of disseminating, educating and creating awareness effectively; Develop collaborative mechanisms between Consumer Affairs Bureau and Public Affairs Departments in executing consumer outreach programmes using online social media platforms.
The Executive Commissioner also directed the Committee to develop guidelines on handling consumer complaints received via online social media channels for timely and effective resolutions; and to identify and harmonise extant organisational initiatives that can be leveraged to further deepen consumer education and awareness campaigns.
He reminded the Committee of the centrality of the digital, online and social media channels as emergent communication platforms that have to be utilised to reach as many stakeholders as possible. He also noted that doing so is in congruence with the Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of the new digital economy policy and strategy being coordinated by the Commission’s supervising ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy.
Adewolu tasked the Committee, which is expected to submit its report within a month, “to take personal responsibility for the prompt delivery of highest quality output, to think outside the box, be innovative and to take a collaborative approach which respects the views of all members.”