For the past two weeks now, I have been in a hurry to share my experience with you dear readers. And guess why? For the very first time in Rwanda, I have had to deal with the Rwandan police. It is not as if I had wanted to, but it just happened and I’m glad to write about it.
After living in Rwanda for more than 1 year, I went to this police station in Gikondo to report a case of a carpenter who had disappeared with my money.
I had paid for the past 2 months this carpenter who was supposed to make a bed for me. After taking the money, he just disappeared into thin air.
He changed his phone numbers and it was impossible to get hold of him. Unfortunately, there are still in Rwanda and also in my country, people who think they can treat foreigners anyhow just because they are foreigners.
This carpenter has even got to an extent of vacating his workshop and the only option I was left with was to report the case to the police station.
When I entered the police station that fateful Friday, it was raining and the compound was quite muddy and almost flooded. I had a lot of apprehension as I entered the officer’s office. And understand me, it was my first experience.
The office was old and there were cobwebs on the walls. But straight away, the officer welcomed me, gave me a sit and asked how he could be of help. My first fear disappeared straight away.
This first fear actually was meeting someone who could not understand me because of the language barrier. People of Rwanda speaking Kinyarwanda might not understand this feeling here whereby it is a real apprehension to go to offices or shops in town whereby language is a real barrier.
Officer Salim, as he later on gave me his name, was very professional in listening and taking note. This was a sign that he took me serious. I have gone to offices where people are doing hundreds of things at the same time while listening.
I’m always confused and not sure if the person is really listening. But in this case, I was lucky as officer Salim was all ears. After filing my complaint, he did all that he had to do with his colleague Eric.
To cut the story short, Janvier, the carpenter was arrested and the following day he paid back all my money. This experience has probably nothing exceptional but coming from where I come from, this is a miracle.
I didn’t spend any extra money and I got all my money back the next day without any other complication. I have lived in 5 countries and have gone round 27 African countries because of my job but had never experienced such a good customer service in a public office.
I was so impressed that I wished I could have such positive experiences at the post office, at the immigration, at the Rwandan Revenue Authority, at the district and in all these government agencies I normally deal with.
When we talk of customer service, we need to understand that it is not only for the private sector. I’m sure we have all had experiences in some government offices where we have had the impression that we are disturbing the public agent.
Is it because most government agencies handle such a huge number of people? I don’t think so because many retail stores and private companies are able to handle even more people with grace and hospitality.
It is probably because of the lack of competition and the fact that they have not had customer service as a priority. But today with the vision 2020, this should not be accepted.
Government agencies need also to view customer service as a requirement and not an option. And let’s keep on remembering that the image of Rwanda lies in our hands whether we are in the private or public sector.