Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater? -The Case of Midland Savings & Loans  

Midland Savings and Loans Ltd has been at the centre stage of public discussion in recent times. This is due to the awful incident involving the company’s customer, Ms Patience Osafo and the policeman, Frederick Amanor who was stationed at the company’s head office branch at Shiashie. From all indications, the incident gained currency and most trending on social media. The company has also not denied the fact that the occurrence brought its name into disrepute especially when national figures including the President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have all condemned the offence.

I am inclined to believe that had it not been for this reported case, many Ghanaians far and near would not have taken much notice of the company’s operations except its customers and the communities in which it has branches. That is why it will be foolhardy to downplay the rippling effects of the matter on the company’s business. Therefore, it requires efforts to restore its reputation especially at this time when public scepticism about the country’s banking front is very high.

It is in respect of this trajectory that I deem it necessary to give the company a special focus. My checks reveal that the company has been in existence since 1997, that is barely over two decades. As to why the choice of the heading “Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater” to feature a company which is twenty-one years old is premised on its meaning in relation to the situation at hand- we cannot afford to lose the company’s great strides in our attempt to get rid of the policeman’s wrongs.

Thus, it is unfortunate that the media reports on the negative treatment the customer suffered have overshadowed the company’s contributions to society. In my viewpoint, any attempt not to recognise same will not augur well for businesses’ growth and development. With the customers’ rising apprehensions and the panic withdrawals, the company has become an adult orphan who needs an urgent protection to ward off the seeping mistrusts of the times.

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Surviving for all these years with footprints in many parts of the country means a lot to the company and its stakeholders including the customers whose businesses and lives it has improved and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) which it pays taxes for national development. In fact, its life comes against the backdrop of the recent observation made by the Minister for Business Development  Dr Mohammed Awal Ibrahim that 75 percent of businesses set up in the country do not survive after three years in operation.

This isolated case concerning Ms Patience Osafo has really tested Midland’s ability to manage crises and live by its tagline service with speed. Fortunately, the remarkable testimonies from some of its existing customers could give it a respite. A sample of these testimonies caught my attention and worth sharing.

Testimonies

“When I need loans, Midland serves me with no delay. My store is fully stocked now. Their customer service is just perfect. I really love working with Midland. This was by the customer, Rita and a trader at the Okaishie Market in Accra. Also, a driver, Akwaboah who works at the Tema station in Accra and the company’s customer testified I needed a commercial vehicle(trotro) for business, and Midland came to my rescue with their Troski Loan. I will encourage any driver who needs a trotro loan to go to Midland.” The company’s efforts concerning corporate citizenship are equally worth recognising.

Corporate Social Responsibilities

In a country with government’s overstretched health budget, the private businesses’ contributions to promoting healthy workforce cannot be underestimated. Some of them have contributed their widow’s mite in the areas of funding and awareness creation on diseases’ preventive techniques. Midland Savings and loans has over a period played this vital role by supporting the StandPoint aired on GTV to educate the public on social vices such as drug abuse, rape, teenage pregnancy.

Invariably, the company’s sponsorship drives aim at promoting women and children empowerment, disease awareness on Cholera, Malaria, AIDS and Breast Cancer. It is worthy to recognise that organisations such as the Ghana Trade Fair, MUSIGHA (Musicians Association of Ghana), Wellness and Fitness Lifestyle Expo at many points in time benefited from the company’s CSR Budget for the society’s the common good. While it is important acknowledging the company’s good deeds, the debacle it had suffered provides us with the singular opportunity to use the resulting experience as a fresh case study.

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Case Study/Lessons

The suspension of the five employees who reports say could have acted to avert the situation brings to the fore the issue of conduct risk (the people factor). From the Branch Manager’s office, where there is usually Closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring activities, the presumptuous understanding is that the staff considered Ms Patience Osafo repeated presence as a nuisance. Hence, they deviated from the company’s operational procedures and rules of engagement in meeting her expectations. As a result, their misconduct damaged the company’s reputation in an unquantifiable measure. This can happen to any other customer service-oriented institution when things are taken for granted.

Other undercurrents from this case also justify the need for companies especially those of us in the financial services sector to improve our business continuity plans (strategies) frequently and activate them during contingencies. The run on the company is unfortunate and that is the last thing any financial institution will ever wish itself no matter the quantum of its financial resources. This case should re-emphasise the need to imbibe the values of customer service in the country. Before we end the discussion, do you know that the incident has given a corrupted name for the place, Shiashie?  It is now called shy a she”. Don’t make them punching bags! Treat them with the warmth of customer service.

Don’t I love you, dear readers of this column, I am once again grateful for your valuable time. Your views are always welcome. God Bless You!

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