Micro-finance institutions have been urged to improve customer relations to stay competitive.
Leah Wardle, a microfinance consultant with Smart Campaign, advised them to listen to and value consumer feedback to enhance service delivery and satisfy customers’ needs.
Wardle was speaking during a training working of over 100 managers and chief executives in Kigali yesterday. The workshop was organised by the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda.
“Customers should be treated fairly and respectfully if you are to operate profitably and attract more clients,” Wardle told the managers.
Peter Rwema, the director of research and development at the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, noted that micro-finance institutions needed to improve in some few areas to provide better services and attract new clients.
“We target the same people as banks, so we have to be innovative and offer quality services,” he said.
Remy Iyikirenga, the head of the micro-finance department at the finance ministry, urged micro-finance institutions to always ensure that borrowers understand the terms of loans they acquire so that they fully understand their responsibilities.
He added that many of the bad loans in the sector were a result of ignorance about the terms of the loan contracts borrowers sign.
He pointed out that most borrowers do not study contract terms and conditions before they sign them.
According to Iyikirenga, over 8 per cent of the loans disbursed by micro-finance institutions are unpaid.
Claire Nyirasafari, one of the participants, said the training was timely, noting that many micro-finance institutions operate as dictatorships. “They don’t mind whether customers are happy or not. However, the skills we have gained will help us change this and ensure better services.