Do not let your clients apologise

Things in Rwanda are changing at a very fast rate with rising competition among local companies. A few years ago, the Rwandan market comprised of companies that were virtual monopolies. In fact, big companies like MTN, SULFO, BRALIRWA, UTEXRWA and others seemed to have gotten drunk on the monopoly for a while.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

Things in Rwanda are changing at a very fast rate with rising competition among local companies. A few years ago, the Rwandan market comprised of companies that were virtual monopolies. In fact, big companies like MTN, SULFO, BRALIRWA, UTEXRWA and others seemed to have gotten drunk on the monopoly for a while.

They saw no need to be competitive since clients generally had few options to turn to. They cared less what the customer felt because he/she had literally few places to turn to in case of discontent. Then the doors were opened and more companies were set up to compete with these former loners.

Rwanda’s entry into the East African Community hastened this process and investors from across the border came flocking in. The banking sector best exemplified this situation with the arrival of FINA bank, Equity, KCB, as well Ecobank. This compelled traditional players like Banque Populaire du Rwanda to change their attitudes towards the customers.

Another major development that changed the way big business reacts to customer’s feelings was the establishment of the stock exchange market and the trading of shares in companies like BRALIRWA and Bank of Kigali. This meant that on top of the regular clients, these businesses had to also think about the shareholders’ interests.

In business, just like in life one is bound to be faced by different challenges. Sometimes we fail to meet the expectations of those who have trust in us and this spoils the relationship. However what is always important is how such crisis moments are handled.

In this era where clients are more demanding and restless in case of a break down in service, the way a company handles the situation matters so much. For example, if people are waiting in long queues without being served, the business owner should not wait for them to lose their cool before offering an explanation for the delay.

If an internet cable at the coast of Mombasa is cut and internet is interrupted, telecom companies should not wait for customers to vent anger on social media. They should offer an explanation of the situation at the earliest possible time.

It is common to hear public relations’ people say something like, “We regret to inform our esteemed clients that due to such and such a problem we are unable to serve you as we wish but we are currently doing our best to restore operations to serve you better.”

The mistake is for the company to know that something is wrong but wait for discontent to reach very high levels before intervening. Delayed responses are viewed as disrespectful behaviour and a company may be punished by customers moving to your competitor.

In life, we all make mistakes and so if something goes wrong and a company comes out early enough to explain the situation, show remorse and a commitment to fix the problem then people are more likely to understand.

Businesses must understand the emotional aspect of their survival by listening and responding to clients needs and concerns with some urgency. Times have changed and the market is very competitive. Therefore, companies must desist from any insensitive practices that might give competitors unnecessary advantage.

 

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