Olivia started working after dropping out of school when she was just 17 years old. Life became even harder after she was impregnated at 19 by a gentleman who simply ‘disappeared’ into thin air.
At 21, she landed a housemaid job in an expatriate’s home, where she learnt how to take care of the house, cook and look after children.
As fate would have it, her “Madam” was accommodating and taught her a lot about cooking, and that is when she developed an interest for cooking.
To cut a long story short, after her “Madam” left Rwanda, life became hard; with no qualifications, she could not get another job.
A year ago, she was offered a new job as a waitress in a small restaurant downtown. Being a waitress is not really the job she had dreamt of, but she is happy she is able to pay her rent and take care of her little son.
Being a waitress has been an interesting journey as she is able to interact with customers from all walks of life. She is daily challenged to go beyond her boundaries, especially when some of her customers treat her badly. Just last week, a customer tried to touch her indecently.
Throughout her one-year experience as a waitress, she has been lucky to have a manager who usually stands by his employees, especially when some irate customers try to abuse or belittle them. But together with her colleagues, she has learnt to be polite, deal professionally with all customers and know that customers are the reason she has a paycheque at the end of the month.
As the world celebrates the International Customer Service Week every first week of October, this is the time to thank the many brave people working in the service industry.
Working in the service industry isn’t easy because one sells experiences, emotions that are often intangible. Being able to offer a customer a positive moment of truth is a simple magic because customers, just like any human being, come with their own personal challenges.
Dealing with human beings is an enriching experience, yet a very demanding one because not all customers are friendly, nice and honest. Some customers behave badly; some are disrespectful, arrogant and very often rude because they think as customers, they have every right over service employees
Service staff must occasionally deal with disgruntled customers who flame out at them.
Last month, we got a very serious complainton The ServiceMag Facebook Group page and when we contacted the concerned service provider, we realised it was just because the service woman had refused to give out her personal telephone number.
So, believe me customers sometimes lie and abuse employees all in the name of this famous maxim that “the customer is always right”.
Because service employees deal with rude, aggressive and unmannered customers daily, it is paramount we all come together to celebrate, thank, reward, them as behind their smile, there is usually hurt and pain.
The theme for this year’s Customer ServiceWeek, which is scheduled for October 5-9, is “Daily Heroes”. So if you are in the business of serving customers; and really, we are all, one way or the other.
Take a minute to say “thank you” to the next service staff you will deal with.
If you are a manager, please take time to appreciate your employees and show them you value them.
Without them, your company will not survive. Employees help you sell your brand.
As part of the activities lined up for this Customer Service Week, The ServiceMag has asked over 200 institutions in Rwanda to name two of their best service employees, who will enter an interesting competition we are organising.
Together with several media houses, these people will be called live on air on radios or visited by television crews, and thanked and appreciated. Others will even win interesting prizes.
You, too, can tell us of your plans for this Customer Service Week as we would love to hear from you. Together, we can make an impact because improving the level of service in Rwanda relies on each of us.
The writer is a customer service consultant and the founder of The ServiceMag