With the many initiatives aimed at improve the level of service delivery in the public and private sectors in place, a lot have been said and done.
But most times, when we examine the level of the service we still receive, we wonder if we are doing things right. So, are the sensitisation campaigns, trainings and publications yielding any positive results?
Well, let me share what I recently experienced in the ‘middle of a tea plantation’ and you be the judge. The plantation is almost seven hours drive from Kigali and on the edge of a forest. The Nyungwe Forest Lodge confirms that it is possible to have world class service in Rwanda.
My job as a trainer has offered me opportunities to travel around the world and on all continents. I have been privileged to stay in some of the best hotels and my hospitality background often make me a difficult customer to please when it comes to service delivery.
Trust me, this forest lodge was simply tops and their level of service will impress the most difficult guest. It is modern, has elegant design and its rooms and fittings are of great quality. Everything has been thought of and every single corner of the hotel went through a proper attention to detail. The rooms are super-luxurious. The scenery is stunning and from the infinity pool you can see monkeys playing in the nearby trees.
This awesome facility confirms that we can all achieve a good level of service delivery if we respect the details below:
Excellent service is all about detail
No small detail should be taken for granted. Think through the process properly and make sure it fits the standards you want to offer.
At the Nyungwe Forest Lodge, the lovely rooms and style prove great taste and creativity. Rwandan-made decoration was everywhere, from the imigongo, agaseke, to the bed sheets, carpets, cushions and tablecloth.
It is a shame that today most business owners in Rwanda use “cheap” Chinese products to decorate their hotels or businesses rather than using local materials.
I find it strange that even wall hangings come from China when there are many talented local artists. My guess is that Chinese hotels or offices hardly use African decoration.
Recruit attitude, not certificates
We all acknowledge the challenge of hiring qualified people here. At the Nyungwe Forest Lodge, what impresses one is the level of professionalism of the staff, and most of them are Rwandans.
As a manager, do you recruit certificates or attitude? It often bothers me to see how many business owners and managers focus on diplomas rather than on the soft skills of potential employees.
Train, supervise and train again
One induction training at the opening of a business is often not sufficient. You will need to invest in training; quality training and not the theoretical one that does not offer employees pragmatism. After training, supervise and always be ‘there’ for your teams.
Put in place clear procedures and standards
I was surprised to realise that though the manager was not present at the lodge the weekend I visited, service was still perfect. This shows that set standards exists and staff know at each particular point what to do.
Do not accept average service
What kills good service is actually accepting average standards. The day we accept average service or give excuses, then we give in to mediocrity. If you want to maintain a high level of services, refuse anything that does not fall under your standards of operation, even if it is minor detail.
From the experience at Nyungwe, I am convinced that excellent service standards are achievable in Rwanda and with Rwandans, if we all put in efforts, time, money and consistency.
The writer is a customer service consultant and the publisher of