As Rwanda continues to observe the Customer Appreciation Week, that started Monday, business operators have been called upon to always prioritise cultivating long-term relations with their clients rather than looking at ‘quick wins.’
Ivan Mucunguzi, a resident of Nyamirambo in Nyarugenge District, said much as customer service in private sector has over the years improved, there is still a long way to go.
“In banks, customer service is still wanting. For example, sometimes you queue up for a long time and when you finally get to the teller, they will tell you they are stepping out. I believe with proper training in customer service, clients can be served better,” he said.
Customer Appreciation Week is an international celebration held in recognition of customers both in private and public entities, observed annually every first week of October.
Vincent Ntakirutimana, taxi-moto operator, said in most restaurants in Kigali that he has been to, waiters don’t seem to understand the value of good customer care.
“Sometimes I go to a restaurant, sit and wait for someone to serve me but in vain...often times the waiters are just chatting and looking on indifferently,” said Ntakirutimana.
Initially, he said, he would just storm out to another outlet but said that he has rather resigned to the fate after encountering similar reception everywhere he went.
He said that as a person who is in the service industry, his advice to those in the service sector is to treat their clients as they would their employers, because clients pay the money.
Thierry Hitimana, a tour guide in Nyungwe National Park, was among the employees of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) who were on Tuesday recognised for outstanding service across departments.
He said his secret is to love what he does and treating his clients the way he would like to be treated.
“I like my job and strive to be characterised by discipline in whatever I do, especially before my clients” he said.
Emmanuel Hategeka, the chief operations officer of RDB, said even if much has been done it terms of improving customer service, there is still a long way to go.
“Statistics show that we are not where we want to be. The private sector is the key driver of national economy and customers still complain about bad service they get in different sub-sectors,” said Hategeka.
He said, during the week, they are trying to remind business operators that a customer is king that businesses can’t even exist without them.
“Winning the trust of a client is key to every business success and this requires anyone in business, first, to enjoy what they do because at the end of the day, when you do not enjoy what you do, then you can never provide a good service,” he said during the ceremony to award service providers in different categories.
The award ceremony was held at the RDB headquarters at Gishushu in Kigali.
Hategeka said taking responsibility in case a service turns out different from the client’s expectation is critical and called for dynamism in fixing whatever goes wrong.
Belise Kariza, the chief of tourism officer at RDB, called for mechanisms to seek and track feedback from clients, saying that this builds trust between operators and clients.
She said one of the biggest challenges is that some people tend to be defensive whenever they get feedback that is negative, instead of working quickly to rectify the issues raised by the client.
It’s expected that the champions in customer service from all sectors at the national level will be awarded Friday, and every Rwandan can nominate a candidate and stands a chance to be nominated.