Has our customer service improved?

For the first time, Rwanda, on Monday, celebrated the international customer service week. The annual week-long event aims at recognising the importance of customer service and to honour the people who serve and support customers with distinction.
Customer service personnel talk to potential employees during a job fair in Kigali early this year.   The New Times/ File.
Customer service personnel talk to potential employees during a job fair in Kigali early this year. The New Times/ File.

For the first time, Rwanda, on Monday, celebrated the international customer service week. The annual week-long event aims at recognising the importance of customer service and to honour the people who serve and support customers with distinction.

The year’s event is marked under the theme “Think Service.”

During a function held in Kigali on Monday, five people were awarded with trophies and other prizes, for exceptional services to customers.

The winners were also urged to train others on good customer handling, in line with the various nationwide sensitisation campaigns designed to improve service delivery.

These programmes include “Na Yombi” (Akirana Urugwiro Abakugana), loosely translated ‘receive your clients with courtesy and with both hands, and ‘Noza Serivisi’ (Offer quality service).

Such initiatives to improve the quality of services delivery have generally  had an impact, but a lot still needs to be done.

According to the Rwanda Development Board’s latest report on customer service in the country, the level of customer satisfaction currently stands at 71 per cent, based on a survey carried out in May and June 2013 within various public and private institutions.

The study shows an improvement compared to the 60 per cent level of satisfaction in 2010. The target is to increase the level of satisfaction to 80 per cent by 2017.

Task force set up

Last year in November, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, set up a taskforce charged with monitoring how services are offered across the country.

“I don’t see why someone should offer you a bad service. What if that person receives the same treatment when in need of urgent services? Good customer service is everybody’s responsibility,” said Gerald Mukubu, vice president of the National Taskforce on Customer Care and Service Delivery.

According to Mukubu, also the Chief Advocacy Officer of Private Sector Federation (PSF), customer service campaigns that have been launched in past are yielding promising results.

But accounts vary.

For the past few years, Angelina Uwamahoro (not real name) has been going to a prominent hospital in  Kigali, for treatment but all is not that well on her side, because customer service at the institution continues to decline with each passing day.

“This is our family hospital. My husband, children and I, have been receiving treatment here for years. At the start, the services were of high standards but now I don’t know what happened, everything has changed for the worse,” she said.

Uwamahoro, a mother of two said that she had to wait for an hour to receive medical care.

The New Times found her at the same facility yesterday seeking antenatal care

“When we experience bad service, it creates a poor impression and as customers, we are bound to tell our friends and associates about our experience which is not good for the hospital,” she noted.

She, however, said that, even though it takes longer for a patient to see a doctor, when they eventually do, services become quicker.

Uwamahoro, from Nyandungu Sector in Kicukiro District, observed that the maternity ward needs more doctors.

Different story

She is just one of the millions of people who experience poor service across the country on a daily basis despite efforts to reverse the trend.

Her story is different from Victor Ugirinshuti, who is full of praises for the service provided by the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration.

A visit to the premise shows that, a lot has been done to improve services delivery.

“It took me less than seven minutes before someone attended to my queries. This institution provides efficient customer service,” Ugirinshuti told The New Times yesterday at Directorate of Immigration and Emigration offices in Kacyiru.

Ugirinshuti, who was there to process his passport, called on other institutions, especially in the public sector, to emulate the department of immigration service delivery.

During the customer care week celebrations on Monday, Clare Akamanzi, the acting chief executive officer of RDB said “if we could deliver services,  Rwanda can get an additional of $40 million in GDP every year.”

“Our focus is to encourage service providers to provide exceptional service,” she noted.

Noella Mukarugomwa, one of those awarded said she has dedicated her life to offering better services to people.

“No single person has ever left my office without help. If I fail to solve their problems, I make sure that I take them to relevant people and follow-up to see if they had been offered good services,” said Mukarugomwa, the in charge of good governance at Nyamasheke District in Western province.

Customer Service Week is an annual international event celebrated during the first full week in October.

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