In Rwanda, visitors are special. When a child visits its uncles and aunties, it is pampered. When it visits a grand parent, especially grandma, the child is begged and cajoled to spend a night and sometimes even stay a week.
Holidays are a special treat for children when they go to the grandparents’ place.
Children are encouraged to visit family members. This is part of their socialisation. They get to know their extended family and learn to put on their best behaviour.
They are also expected to learn from their aunties, uncles, grand-pa and grand-ma, ways of how to live in society.
As a child grows, it starts making its choices on which relatives to visit. It usually goes that place where it most feels comfortable or loved.
This does not rule out the fact that children sometimes prefer an aunt who pampers as opposed to the strict ones.
A child is expected to be able to perform certain domestic chores regardless of whether it’s at home or at a relative’s.
In any case, a relative’s place was regarded home.
The way a child would be received usually had a mark on it.
The way it would see visitors being received in its parents home would even make a greater mark. And usually it would see visitors being received with lots of warmth.
Sometimes the hosts would go the extra length just to ensure the guests are comfortable. The best mattress, beddings, dishes, cutlery...etc would be brought out for the visitor.
A child would therefore grow knowing that a guest is received with a smile and a greeting. That’s why many a time one will be questioned by an aunt or uncle on why they no longer visit them.
This is because a child’s lack of interest in visiting a particular family is sometimes interpreted as it having not enjoyed its stay there at one time.
It therefore comes as a great surprise and a sad one at that when the On the Frontier group (OTF) in its survey on customer care practices in the region, on behalf of the Rwanda Development Board, ranked Rwanda last. This is sad indeed.
Rwanda is a beautiful country. It has beautiful hills. In fact, it’s known as the land of a thousand hills and a million smiles. It has made many strides in many spheres fifteen years on.
While people mention 2000 years after the Birth of Christ (B.C) in Rwanda, we count from 1994. The reasons are obvious.
Our country is rebuilding itself. Many visitors have exclaimed at her people’s resilience and warmth. They’ve marvelled at her greenery and the diamond-like sparkle of the rivers that run in the valleys.
But some, unfortunately, have taken back the bad memory of sitting at a restaurant and waiting for more than ten minutes to be served.
Sometimes the memory is that time used plates and dishes were only cleared when a person sat at a particular table, only staying on because of the tummy’s demands for a refill.
Sometimes, the bad experience is entering a shop and the shop keeper just staring at you like you are a bother.
Sometimes jeering at you because you walked away without buying something from them, something they did not show interest in selling.
It’s amazing how sometimes; these visitors might be accorded ‘better’ service than the ‘locals’. And yet sometimes, the visitors go with a bitter taste in their mouth on the poor customer care.
We should remember that charity begins at home. We should start by treating every person with respect. We should treat that customer who comes to our shop, bar, restaurant, as a special guest we would like to come back another day.
A retailer should be able to politely ask a one time customer why they never came back. Sometimes, a client would rather go without an item or buy it five blocks away because of that one day when you lazily stood up from your stool to inquire what they wanted.
They might have felt unwelcome and decided to stay away from your shop.
Let’s do our best to make the customer feel at home. Let’s make them want to come back for more. Rwanda as a country may not be huge. It may not have much material wealth.
But at least it should draw more people to it because of its huge heart. Let’s be the leaders in the hospitality industry. Let’s copy the kind of care we give guests in our homes and paste it in our business transactions.
However, if we are poor hosts in our homes, then don’t bother copying…don’t even paste. The failure of your business will be your own doing. On the other hand we are looking forward to enjoying the over $ 40 million to be generated from just improving our customer care habits by 2012.