Why CEOs must embrace Twitter

During the festive season, a follower tagged @TheServiceMag on his tweet on Saturday January 3 at 6.39am that read: “Someone has called @wasac_rwanda on 0788303849 for water, after a week and response is “come to our office to witness our challenges.”

Sandra Idossou

During the festive season, a follower tagged @TheServiceMag on his tweet on Saturday January 3 at 6.39am that read: “Someone has called @wasac_rwanda on 0788303849 for water, after a week and response is “come to our office to witness our challenges.”

At 11.58am, James Sano, the CEO of the Water and Sanitation Corporation, tweeted this response: “Have called the number and identified the staff. Get assured we shall handle this accordingly. Then two minutes later, another response “we do not expect these kinds of responses from our staff. We shall definitely pursue this case.”

I do not know about you, but this is exactly one of the reasons we must all be proud of what is happening in the service sector in Rwanda. Being able to question a public institution on a Saturday morning and expect a response from the CEO himself is far beyond expectations even in Europe or the US.

Believe me, the level of service we get is still not up to standard, but we have reasons to appreciate some of the positive achievements we see here and there. Reviewing what has been done throughout the past years, we can boldly say there is a lot of improvement, especially in the public sector.

Gone are the days where civil servants could offer shabby service and go scot-free. Gone are the days where citizens were taken for granted because they were voiceless. The directorate of emigration and immigration is our pride because we all witness their efforts in consistently offering the best service.

Social media is a revolution, thanks to the power of the Internet and smart phones. Nevertheless, I am still amazed that in today’s social media dynamic business environment, we still have managers, CEOs and big institutions that are still absent on the numerous free social media platforms for anyone who can access the Internet.

If you are a manager reading this, believe me, you have no excuse for failing to engage with customers, especially when they have complaints and questions. The last time I posted a question to a ministry here, they never responded. They probably do not know that ignoring customers is the worst possible strategy they could adopt.

We can all admit that CEOs and top executives are busy and receive hundreds of emails a day, but being on social media and responding to customers sets the tone in your institution. It sends a strong message to employees that whatever complaint is posted; the CEO can see them himself.

The trend today is to hire a specific person or a PR company to handle issues regarding a firm’s presence online. But the fact of the matter is that when customers know that you personally take seriously complaints on social media, they will trust you more.

There is no way you can talk about the importance of being customer-centric if you yourself as a CEO or top manager are absent on social media. Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho is probably one of the most active ministers, and constantly engages the public on health-related issues. She frequently invites the public to share their complaints directly with her on Twitter. Isn’t it wonderful to know that if a nurse or doctor offers us bad service, we can tweet directly the minister and inform her?

Today, customers are empowered and do not have time for archaic suggestions boxes to give you feedback. Just imagine what a negative tweet, YouTube or Facebook post can do to your institution’s image, especially if there is no response on your side.

As a CEO or manager, decide to embrace Twitter this year. Respond yourself when necessary. You cannot afford to be a manager without using Twitter for information, feedback and engaging with the public. Make it a point to respond regularly.

James Sano of Wasac, Agnes Binagwa of the Ministry of Health, Joseph Bahenda of Corar, and many other CEOs and government officials confirm that Twitter is an excellent way of communicating and getting close to customers.

Wish you an engaging 2015 on social media in view of improving service delivery in Rwanda.

The author is a customer service consultant and the publisher of The ServiceMag