The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has urged business owners to prioritise consumer protection as the pre-eminent factor in protecting brand, businesses, building confidence and corporate growth.
Mr Babatunde Irukera, Director-General of CPC, in a statement by the Director, Public Relations of the council, Mr Abiodun Obimuyiwa, said customer satisfaction was the most vital pillar to loyalty and trust.
Irukera said this at a meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of food and beverage companies who are members of the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFTBE).
He noted that customer service could not be ancillary to business, especially in the food and beverage industry, rather it must be the core of business and operations.
He expressed gratitude to the CEOs for inviting him to the meeting, saying that it demonstrated their resolve to ensure consumer protection, satisfaction and economic growth.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration recognised the role of businesses and their CEOs in economic expansion and would always listen to “credible, genuine, fair-minded, and societal committed investments.
Irukera stressed the need for a mandatory Corporate Obligatory Responsibility (COR) as customer service and consumer protection.
He said it formed a vibrant combination of the best possible brand and reputational investment.
The CPC boss said fairness and customer satisfaction was important to maintain reputation and eliminate distrust in business.
“When customer service is at its best, consumers are truly happy, spending is up, economic indicators are encouraging; my job is done, your performance is assured, and your brands endure.”
“Therefore, collaboration in consumer protection is not just an imperative, but a sensible approach to a joint objective.
Consumer satisfaction is a means to a commercial end, and for CPC, its an end in itself and fulfillment of a constitutional duty,’’ he said.
He further advised that consumers be treated fairly and equally, irrespective of their location.
According to Irukera, consumer protection regulatory challenge in any part of the world could damage a brand internationally, therefore companies should “prioritise consumer protection in dealing with consumer protection authorities”.
He dentified some policy priorities of the council which stressed the need to reinforce the existing complaint resolution mechanisms.
He added that CPC would introduce a more efficient system with the right technology that would ensure companies were the primary point of resolution.
“It is only when that fails that complaints will escalate to the CPC, except in serious or industry wide situations or abuses that require major and urgent immediate intervention.
“ CEOs are hereby encouraged to ensure their companies adopt the comprehensive system and plug into it when it goes live.
The director-general said that a major threat to both consumers and businesses was counterfeiting and adulteration.
He said the CPC would focus more on traceability and enjoined companies to cooperate in being more innovative and proactive in partnering with regulators to address the menace.
He assured the industry of government’s support to address this as a national emergency and security situation, while admonishing the industry to be more transparent about tracing and tracking their products
“We must be able to swiftly and unequivocally eliminate confusion or dual possibilities about the source of a defective product.
“When defectiveness regrettably emanates from a legitimate producer, forthrightness and honesty in taking responsibility are factors in the company’s reputation,’’ he added.
Earlier, the Group Managing Director of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, Mr. Paul Gbededo, described AFBTE as a group of industries that had daily encounters with Nigerian consumers.
Gbededo expressed the members’ eagerness to collaborate with the Council and be regulated by the government agency.
He said that if consumers were not happy with them, their businesses would not grow.
He further said that “partnership between the association and the Council will be for the good of the country and the numerous consumers of our various products”.