Please, can we meet you?
My name is Ani Ruth Chidinma. I am from Enugu State. I am the fourth child and second daughter of my parents. I graduated from the University of Godfrey Okoye. I studied mass communication. Presently, I am working as a customer experience specialist in Digital Abundance, and I have been in this role for more than two years.
When did you finish school?
I graduated from school in 2016.
What were you doing during the period when you finished school and started working at Digital Abundance?
Before I started working in Digital Abundance, I have worked in the information unit of a local government. I have also worked as a personal assistant and as a church manager. (Church manager?) Yes, I was in charge of everything that had to do with the church. I also worked part-time as a teacher in a school.
Maybe because I am not familiar with the role of a church manager, it sounded quite strange to me. Can you describe your role, and were they paying you?
Yes, I was being paid. I used that word because that was the best I could come up with. I was working as a personal assistant to my pastor. And I was also responsible for all that was going on in the church. I was in charge of the reports, offerings, and smooth running of the church—basically everything that was going on in the church.
Personally, do you think all the former roles you have engaged in have a role to play in your current role?
Well, working in customer experience wasn't something I saw coming. There was a need for this role, and I felt I could try my hands at it. I never saw myself working in customer service; I initially wanted to go into journalism. Journalism was what I had always wanted to do as a kid. In those days, when my dad comes back to the house with a newspaper, I was always the one to pick it up to read. I have been a curious person when it comes to media.
In 2016, when I left school, I submitted applications for jobs, but the jobs I was getting weren't paying enough, and the distance from where I was staying was quite far. All in all, they were stressful. In 2021/2020, I started working in Digital Abundance.
As a staff in Digital Abundance, how will you describe the journey so far?
Sincerely speaking, it has been challenging because you have to work with different kinds of people every day. You will have to interact with different people on a daily basis and you can't control how they speak to you, or how they relate with you. You just have to be the one that will put yourself in charge and not allow the situation you find yourself in to control you. And this is what I tell myself every day.
Most especially in a country like Nigeria, where they don't see the customer service role as anything, it hasn't been easy. They feel anybody can take up the role and this is the reason why we have a lot of inexperienced customer support in Nigeria today.
However, one of the things I love about my role is being a problem solver. And I think this is one of the skills I have and I like to experiment with it.
I think it's safe to say that the journey so far has been of the good and the bad side.
Yeah, you can say that. I can count several times, I have asked myself if I want to build a career out of this. I have asked myself several times if I want to go further in my present role. Because when I work, I put in all my possible best. I am a focused person when it comes to doing what I have to do. And I ensure to put in my best efforts. When I'm not putting on my best, I ask myself what is exactly the problem. Is it that I am not enjoying it anymore?
As I said earlier, it has been challenging, because I have to interact with people every day and this is something you can’t avoid. As you have the greedy customers, there are the angry ones who just want to pour out their anger on you, the ones with technical issues that are beyond my control. Asides from this, the insult that comes insults that comes with the job and other things.
Asides from words of affirmation, what are the other ways you relieve yourself from the stress customers give you?
One of the things that help me a lot is that I go to the gym. Sometimes, I take a walk or run around the estate that I live in. If I don't do any of these, I like to stay in a clean environment, so I just drop my phone and I make sure that I clean my environment very well just to relieve myself from everything happening around me, and also to reduce the stress. It sounds very weird because it seems like I am going through more stress but mental stress and physical stress are two different things and my work most times requires mental stress; thinking of how and what to tell people. Another thing that helps me is eating the food I want to eat. I make sure I eat good food. And I also have people that I can talk to whenever I need someone to talk to and be relieved.
Based on the fact that you had no past experiences relevant to customer experience, how did you prepare yourself for the role?
I started working as a customer experience with zero experience, so Youtube became my good friend. I was always watching how to be good customer support and how to manage customers well, down to being a community manager because at a particular period of time I was managing the community.
I also took a course on customer experience, read books on various things. And right now I am about to go into speaking, learning how to make voice-overs. I am keen on personal development, it messes with my head if I am in a particular spot for so long. It got to a point I had to draft a mini-course on customer experience. Just like I said earlier customer support in Nigeria is actually quack, most people don't know how to do their job, because most employers don't also know the importance of good customer support. The mini-course is in about four slides; it was created based on the training I did for myself, and I hope to share it with my team members.
What is your normal daily routine when you get to the office?
My day doesn't actually start in the office; it starts in bed. Once I am done praying, I turn to work. I work 24/7. I pick up my phone, respond to messages, and attend to customers' problems. Sometimes I receive calls, attend to emails, send direct messages, and also try to keep in touch with the technical team if necessary.
Will you like to build a career in your current role?
It's something I've been debating for a while now, whether I want to pursue a career in this field or not. But I still do not have the clarity I need now, so I don't think I have an answer to this question yet.
Do you think journalism is something you will still do?
It's something I am going to experiment with; this is all I can say. I don't want it to be like I missed out on anything I want to do. Because if I want to do something and I don't do it, it will feel as if there is a missing space in my life that I need to fill. So even if it is an adventure for six months, I will still try it out, maybe in 2023 or 2024.
Aside from reading media articles, do you love to read other things?
As you grow, your interest changes. I read books; in fact, I have read a lot of novels. I read inspirational books and romance novels, but for the past two years, I haven't been reading romance novels because I had to change my focus. This year, one of my favorite books that I have read is Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Your Mind by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. I love reading, but I haven't really created enough time for it this year.
Do you like to explore, or are you the indoor type?
I am an introvert, but the extrovert side of me tends to come out when I am with the people that bring joy to me. I go out when I want to go out. If I don't want to go out, no one forces me to go out. I also love to explore; it is something I love to do. I love to explore food and my clothes. I don't know if this is something funny, but sometimes I want to wear something that is crazy today and something entirely different tomorrow, down to my hair. I also love to go on road trips, even though I haven’t done so recently because I have been traveling by air.
Which road trip do you think you are likely to try out, from where to where?
I actually can't say because of the insecurities in Nigeria. (I love my life.) And again, because of the traffic, it can be very exhausting.
Do you have any phobias?
Yes, I do. I have a phobia of heights. I went to a place one day; I couldn't look downstairs; it was scary, and because I have short-sightedness, it scared me a lot.
So how do you manage to travel by air?
I try to distract myself, maybe by praying, and then I fall asleep, or I use my headset.
In a word, I want you to describe yourself.
I am kind, even though I feel just a word won't be able to capture who I am.
What is the best decision you have ever made?
This will be me putting myself first and taking my financial life seriously. Over time, people have taken advantage of me. But as I am evolving, I have come to understand that it is okay if I put myself first, despite the fact that I want to be there for other people. I've learned to let people solve their own problems without interfering.
Tell us an unpopular opinion about yourself.
I am a fun person, and a lot of people don't know this; most of them think that I am too serious.
How has working with the other staff at Digital Abundance been?
It has been okay. Although I don't really interact with a lot of people in the workplace, I have been able to make some friends. And I have also been trying to break free from it recently this
Any words for Digital Abundance?
First of all, I want to give a big shout-out to our CEO, Mr. Chris Ani, for everything he has been doing for the company, for the vision he has for the company, and for our growth as a company so far. Thank you so much, sir, for everything you have been doing.
One piece of advice I have is that we should not stop evolving. Whoever makes the decision to evolve will evolve, and this is going to be a plus for the company.
Finally, just as you started the customer experience role with zero knowledge, what advice will you give to people who are looking forward to starting out on a new path?
As previously stated, the internet is your friend if you want to start something new in your life: YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are a lot of free resources you can start with, and as you go along, you can start paying for courses.
It's also perfectly fine to explore your interests. I wish this was something I knew earlier; you are not committing sin and you are not harming yourself if you do so.