What do I think about our customer service? Poor

Whether it’s buying cash power, getting medical attention or even ordering a simple meal; good customer care is still a rarity in Rwanda.
Service with a smile is something totally lacking in many Rwandan establishments
Service with a smile is something totally lacking in many Rwandan establishments

Whether it’s buying cash power, getting medical attention or even ordering a simple meal; good customer care is still a rarity in Rwanda.

Kigali is a boom town; buildings are being constructed everywhere you turn , while multinational companies are setting up shop in the country; however, when you go for any type of service usually one is left thinking you weren’t going to pay for the said service.

The best way I can describe the carelessness, with which people are treated, is personal experience.

A few days ago, a few friends and I went to have a bite at a restaurant in Kigali that boasts of being “The Home of Nyama Choma”.

The restaurant, which is called ‘Executive Carwash’, probably has the tastiest goat ribs and ugali in the country.

Usually I had a good time there; however, either the gods were not on our side that day or we simply caught them at a bad time; for as soon as we got there and had placed our first orders, it was all downhill from there.

We placed our initial orders without a hiccup but, later on, as a couple of friends joined our table, getting a waiter to take their orders was as impossible as finishing the biblical Tower of Babel.

We decided to make our exit two hours later, the food we had ordered for having not yet been served to us, while the waitress, who was supposed to have served us, had done a disappearing act.

Shockingly, when we stood up to leave, after beseeching waiter after waiter to bring us the bill for the few drinks we’d been mercifully served, to no avail, the waitress we had placed our first order, for food and drink, with came running after us with the bill-improperly tallied to boot!

Enter any of the large hospitals with a serious ailment and see how long it takes to get emergency care – any serious medical emergency would probably turn fatal by the time one finally got treatment.

Do we have so few medical personnel that one has to make an appointment with the doctor just before falling sick?

Apparently, most of the doctors, who are supposed to be on duty, are busy attending meeting after meeting- an exercise  that take practically the whole day.

Why can’t the hospital administrators attend meetings and let the doctors do what they do best-heal. Maybe this is because too many doctors as doubling as the hospital administrators for lack trained human resources!

It might seem like I’m going on and on, but some things are truly disgusting. A person, maybe a secretary or some official, with a computer in front of them, and all the information a client needs with a simple click of the mouse, makes everything unnecessarily complicated as well.

I recently experienced this kind of stubbornness when I decided to buy cash power. When I got to the counter, the lady dealing with this service calmly informed me that she did not know if the network enabling me to get cash power was back on.

I was left bewildered; she had a computer right in front of her; it wouldn’t have been rocket science getting that information. But no, she could not be bothered to dirty her hands touching the computer keyboard.

I, at first, thought I was the only frustrated with this type of service; however even Pres. Kagame has commented about the lack of good customer service in our country.

If we plan on making our country a regional hub we cannot just deal with other aspects (broad-band infrastructure and investment incentives) while ignoring the first thing that every investor, either local or foreign, looks for- customer service.

There is a huge vacuum where this is concerned. People take their foul moods to work, segregate amongst potential clients, treating some well and others poorly, and are simply too lazy to check out basic information that should be at their fingertips.

Take the example of a shop attendant, who looks at a person’s clothes to gauge the amount of money in their pockets.

They will ignore anyone they think is ‘cheaply’ dressed, in the end they chase a potential customer who could have spread the word to others.

This shop would end up losing excellent business-just because of a sour-faced shop attendant. Any service should be given with a smile, whether for a houseboy or a minister or, indeed, anybody in between.

If need be this then should be taught in the basic training for any prospective employee. As they say, it all starts with baby steps


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