How customer care is critical to Galaxy Backbone’s operations

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Enabling ICT inclusion is central to Galaxy Backbone Limited’s discharge of its mandate of addressing the connectivity, transversal and other technology imperatives for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The organisation has also been committed to synergy with the private sector to help provide digital services to Nigerians and Africa. Its Managing Director, Mohammed Abubakar, never fails to use any opportunity to boast of the availability of necessary ICT infrastructure to achieve broadband penetration in the country. He assures of the safety of governments data, in the organization’s drive to realize its vision to be a leading enabler for digital inclusion in Nigeria and Africa at large, and calls on the private sector for partnership and cooperation.

Abubakar said: “About 60% of the funds we have is actually channelled towards the protection of the government’s data. We ensure that all the infrastructure and facilities in place are provided with the security that is required to provide protection.”

In the course of delivering on its mandate, GBB interfaces with a variety of clients. To ensure that the confidence of these motely clients is built and retained, the organization subscribes to the concept of IPACT, which stands for Integrity, Passion, Accountability, Commitment and Teamwork.

The founding fathers of Galaxy Backbone Limited understood from the onset that if this organization set up by the federal government was to meet the objectives for which it was set up for and if it was to succeed and thrive in the evolving, competitive and technologically innovative world, a deeper focus on the customer must be given in its corporate objectives. That is why consistently, year on year, the organization has continued to look for new and innovative ways to exceed customer expectations while measuring customer satisfaction at all levels of engagement.

It is important to note that as a limited liability company, Galaxy Backbone could be compared to any forward thinking ICT companies in the private sector in Nigeria or globally in its structure, management style, operations and level of attention being paid to customer service delivery. So, despite its placement as a public sector organization, GBB continues to distinguish itself through its level of ICT operations and skill set available within the organization. The organisation does not just see the customer as external, but internal in nature, hence everyone understanding the unique role he or she plays in other person’s success and by extension, the entire customer and stakeholder holder community.

In looking at innovative ways to serve the customer, the organisation developed the GBB Customer Service Charter as a tool for helping the customers measure their expectations, as well as helping the organization hold itself accountable to delivering professional, reliable and consistent customer service. The Customer Charter, which is available on the organisation’s website, has been entrenched in the culture of the organization; hence every member of staff is expected to, at every point, meet the core principles and expectations outlined in the charter.

In recent times, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has challenged the management and Staff of Galaxy Backbone to ensure that customer satisfaction is paramount in the operations of Galaxy Backbone. As the supervising Minister of this organisation, Customer Satisfaction is identified as one of GBB’s Key Performance Indicators by which the organization is being measured.
Also, since the beginning of the tenure of Prof. Abubakar as GBB’s Chief Executive Officer, he has led the cause of improving customer satisfaction from inside by improving the welfare of the staff and this has helped raise the level of commitment and dedication to Customer service delivery. Professor Abubakar is passionate about ensuring that customer requirements are well catered for and their requirements are consistently met.

As an organization that prides itself in the delivery of world class services, GBB consistently presents itself to the principles and scrutiny of the International Standards Organisation(ISO) as a way to ensure Customer service is paramount in its entire operations. The organisation recertifies itself every year as an ISO 20000 organisation ensuring its Service Management System (SMS) is always up to date.

Also, Galaxy Backbone’s renewed focus on capacity building, through the Research, Digital Innovation and Skills Development department of the organization, is one example of the many ways GBB ensures that the customer is well equipped with the right skills to manage the services and solutions being deployed at the customer sight. GBB periodically organizes training for ICT Directors and Engineers to enable them provide first line support within their respective organisations.

The focus on The Power of Service as a global theme for this year’s customer service week is one that resonates well with the Galaxy Backbone evolution story around providing excellent service and its growing service-oriented personality. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly challenged the services of Galaxy Backbone but its excellent leadership, frontline business and technical teams working in a safe environment, rose to the occasion during the

lockdown and up till today, continue to show their resilience and commitment to ensuring that service for the public and private sector organisations they serve are never disrupted. GBB remains committed to providing excellent service and to ensuring customer satisfaction is attained at all times.

Where does Abubakar see this organization in the next 10 years considering the kind of structure he is putting in place and the innovations he is introducing?

“Our target is to ensure we don’t just provide digital services to only Nigeria but the whole of West Africa and then Africa,” he says. “Nigeria is the biggest economy and largest population and the whole of Africa looks up to Nigeria. We want to provide digital services beyond Nigeria. Part of our plan for 2021 is to come up with a business model for the Galaxy Backbone for the next five years. This model has about six pillars.”
GBB’s operations are aligned with and guided by government policiesso that, in his words, “so that we can have the maximum benefits from our operations and ensure they translate into better living for Nigerians. The second one is the cyber security. The third one is financial sustainability; we want this organization to be self-sufficient, to achieve operational excellence — we want to ensure that our services are very efficient and are improved upon.”

GBB is striving to improve capacity and capability, capacity in terms of infrastructure and improved capability which is the human resources will enable effective service delivery.
The second phase of its programme will cover the remaining part of the country. A brand-new data centre is going to be built in Kano to serve as a fall back facility to the data centre in Abuja. The project has started already, and will, hopefully, be completed by the first quarter of 2022 to improve capacity.

Prof. Abubakar looks back with satisfaction to the achievements of GBB. Recently, it launched The Storm project in Enugu that is meant to look into the businesses and provide ICT services to the MDAs at state level to cover the Eastern and South South states, in collaboration with our China partners Terra. It has consolidated work with the private sector. “In extending our hands to the private sector, we are assuring them that we are not competitors with them, but we are trying to provide the enabling environment for them to thrive and deliver on the broadband penetration for the country,” he explains.
He sees a win-win situation for this collaboration, with GBB providing enormous infrastructure that can offer storage, call location, backbone infrastructure passing through about 13 states of the federation in the South West, South South and then North Central. All these infrastructures are available; so the private sector don’t need to invest in this.

Just see how you can use it provide services to your customers, he says. These will save costs and reduce expenditures for the collaborating organizations. “On the order side, we also have some percentages of the money,” he adds, listing the organizations as MainOne, Datasixth, Interra, Cisco, and Top Tech. All want to key into our scheme.

Where others might see challenges as impediments, Prof. Abubakar says, on the contrary, that “We see challenges as opportunities because our focus is on our targets. We don’t see obstacles as challenges. We are supposed to provide to the MDA’S and they are supposed to look at us as partners that can help them achieve their mandates. We are not trying to stop anything, but to enable them do their work but apparently there are few of these MDAs who think galaxy backbone is trying to stop them.

Hassan writes from Abuja.

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