“It’s not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent but the most responsive to change.”— Charles Darwin.
At a time as this, Rwanda is at a stage where Customer Care has become a major investment challenge. The fast growing economy calls for service providers whose teams are motivated, career focused as well as profit makers.
Ndekezi Maarifa, the Manager of Frontiers Adventures Great Lakes Leadership—a management and leadership consulting firm in Rwanda—has continued to train service providers to harness the full value of their customers by becoming customer centric and providing exceptional services, in order to overcome investment challenges.
Ndekezi has been in the business of organisational learning and development for 10 years. His main focus has been in performance management, synergy development and exceptional service delivery.
He mainly uses the outdoors for training, or what he calls experiential learning, where people are challenged physically, socially and emotionally, in a supportive environment which he terms a catalyst for learning.
Ndekezi has earned his experience and skills from training in many countries, that include; Kenya, Australia, Canada, USA, Malaysia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He is fully established in Rwanda now, and poised to make a real transformation.
One of his leading programs is Customer Care Leadership. This is a two days course where he convenes together think tanks in the service industry to learn, share and lay strategies to confront the wavering service culture in their institutions.
It is an experiential course that utilizes team initiatives that are dramatic and challenging, and presents the organizations challenges in service delivery in a vivid way.
Ndekezi is passionate in building peoples capacities for ‘Self Discovery’ which is central to his facilitation approach. He has become a keynote speaker and customer care workshop leader who carries passion and enthusiasm while providing in a unique twist, a new methodology in which he uses ‘Experiential Learning’ to teach customer service leadership in various private and government sectors, specifically, in the hospitality industry.
“Rwanda’s customer care has improved because people are feeling the pain of lacking it,” Ndekezi said adding, “…and a lot of energy is used with fewer results, yet if employees and employers are trained in skills acquisition and attitude change, the results become inestimable.”
In one of his various trainings, Ndekezi brought together six companies that covered a wide array of industries in the service industry.
These were; Stipp Hotels, Top Tower Hotel, Rwanda East African Couriers (FedEx), LeoArts, Organic Solutions Rwanda, and Frontiers Adventures Great lakes.
This was under the program theme: ‘Delivering Consistently Superior Customer Service to Maximizing the Lifetime Profitability of Your Customer Base.’
The focus of the course was customer experience management, customer delight, customer’s expectations management, increasing customer satisfaction, maintaining loyal customers, deepening customer relations, as well as developing and maintaining a service driven strategy and culture.
His Approach and Methodology
“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand,” is a famous dictum of Confucius that has been used since 450 BC.
Through incorporating the ‘Experiential Learning’ methodology, Ndekezi has equipped various service providers by using an experiential based approach.
“By involving the team in various fun and dynamic experiences that challenged them emotionally, physically, intellectually and socially, people are immersed into a learning experience, and they come out believing,-I am better than I thought, or, we are stronger that we thought” Ndekezi said.
Different scenarios, team dynamics and icebreakers were used to make the participants understand the daily encounters and feelings of customers.
“The skills taught cannot be taught in a classroom, as we believe, shared experience away from the working environment is the ideal way to develop team members who can communicate effectively, understand the needs of their colleagues and work together to achieve a common goal of developing a customer centric culture in an organization” Ndekezi stated.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, it is a habit,” he said.
Achieving excellence only comes through the act of discipline. However discipline has come to be regarded as a dirty word by some people, perhaps due to the connotations of strict school headmasters but, Ndekezi believes otherwise.
Ndekezi said: “Customer Care Leadership is about discipline which means a change of attitude while dealing with clients.
It’s very important for us Rwandans to change our mindsets on why and what service is. Service delivery is a profession that service providers should be proud of, and service recipients should respect, full stop!”
“When solving problems, go for the root cause. Organizations should aim high and raise the bar of their service delivery expectations. It is a terrible habit to profile client before finding out what they want. The client is the boss: he pays all the salaries, rent, gives profits, and can close your business by simply taking his/her money elsewhere”
“Managers, trainers and supervisors should learn to spot disappointment from customers and then act quickly.”
Ndekezi cited the fact that customer service leadership carries the three dimensions of; think dramatically, demonstrably and differently—all factors which are only hindered by bureaucracy.
“Bureaucracy is a virus. Businesses should be enemies of the status quo, ‘No changes! or Things stay as they are!’ if they want to be successful.”
Ndekezi said customer service can be categorized as: “Good Customer service = Lasting relationships, Average customer service= Steady relationships that could be lost and Poor customer service= Lost business.” He said it is fundamental that we focus on good customer care.
Through his trainings, Ndekezi has focused on engaging young and old professionals to understand their impact and influence on their customers.
He has instilled the culture of Customer Care leadership by exploring various real life encounters at their work places, in order for Rwandan service providers to understand the value and need to transform themselves into organizations that work together towards building highly active networks of people who leave a lasting mark in the lives of the people they served.