In line with the fulfillment of its primary statutory responsibility of protecting the interest of the consumers of telecoms and ancillary services, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday inaugurated an in-house inter-departmental committee to concretely harmonise existing consumer outreach programmes and to develop a more impeccable way to effectively manage consumer complaints received from the Commission’s online media platforms.
While inaugurating the 12-member Committee, chaired by Ismail Adedigba, Head, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the Commission in Abuja, Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, said that, 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.
Adewolu stated that one of the primary statutory responsibilities of the NCC is the protection of the interest of the consumers of telecoms and ancillary services. Accordingly, he noted that 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.
He recalled 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.
While underscoring how critical the Committee’s work is to the future of the Commission, the Executive Commissioner said “as 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 Committe 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 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 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.”