OPINIONS: Rwanda’s ‘good service’ vs ‘first impression’

Last week as we were conducting mystery shopping for an agency here in Rwanda, I went to one of the big insurance companies to inquire about medical insurance.

Last week as we were conducting mystery shopping for an agency here in Rwanda, I went to one of the big insurance companies to inquire about medical insurance.

As I entered this office, I was straight away approached by this lady who welcomed me warmly and gave me a sit asking me to wait for her colleague.

Though the man was busy with other clients, he offered me a smile. Few minutes later, he came in and apologized for the waiting time, then said to me “It is a pleasure to have you here, how may I help you?”

WOW! What a good welcoming! When a customer calls or goes into an office or a business, the first person they talk to represents the entire company. To the customer the service person is the company and in this case of this insurance company, Theogene was this company.

A good first impression gives straight away a positive impact to the client’s relationship with your company. On the other hand a poor first impression can sometime end the relationship right there. Even though a bad first impression can sometimes be corrected, it surely takes a lot of effort.

Therefore, it is important to aim at great first impressions every time you encounter a customer.

Speaking of first impressions, we have all seen examples of this in our personal lives. When we meet someone new their appearance, tone of voice, manners all have a very big effect on us.

On the other hand, it is wrong for customer service professional to make assumptions about customers by judging them by their appearance or how they speak.

So do not underestimate nor minimize the client you think doesn’t seem to be important. Every person who walks into your shop is a potential client and every customer deserves the same courteous treatment. 

First impressions in most cases will start with the telephone. The last time I recorded a phone conversation I had with this receptionist in one our hotels here in Kigali. I just couldn’t imagine calling such a big hotel.

But then telephone etiquette is such a big issue that I will have to write another article solely on this.

Apart from the telephone, there is a rule that is called the 4x20 that reveals the stages of a first contact. It starts by saying that a first contact starts already when you are at 20 steps from someone.

The 20 steps: Did you know that when you first meet someone, the other person will have formed an initial impression of you, based on how you look, how you move and even how you walk? Your dresses reveals a great deal your personality.

Contact Do not forget that one piece of clothing can give you the image of instant credibility. I have seen people in some of our big banks here dressed as if going to night clubs, to markets or even to the gym.

But then here are the 20 seconds: Always make eye contact with the customer the first second they come in. Even if you are with another customer or on the phone, make eye contact and acknowledge that they are there immediately.

A simple gesture tells the new person that you have seen them and will be right with them.

Sandra Idossou is a customer care expert currently working on several projects in Rwanda



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