CUSTOMER CARE: My ‘Customer Care’ week at the Expo

This week has been quiet an interesting one. I spent very good time at the International Trade Fair at the expo ground at Gikondo. I could feel in the air the excitement of exhibitors.

This week has been quiet an interesting one. I spent very good time at the International Trade Fair at the expo ground at Gikondo. I could feel in the air the excitement of exhibitors.

This excitement was not only due to the promotion of exhibitors’ products but also, I think to a large extent, to the ‘Customer Care’ Competition organized by the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

Every evening, one exhibitor was recognized by customers as being the Best Customer Care agent.

I have also been so much amazed by the ‘Customer Care’ stand that was put in place at the expo ground.

The hostesses at this stand were smartly dressed and did an extraordinary job in attracting visitors in their stand and education people on this important subject.

Visitors were given a brief presentation on what customer care is. This was done with the help of the banners on ‘Customer Care’ that were displayed in the stand.

During the day, they projected interesting films on Customer care; and in the evenings, the films on large screens attracted many visitors.

In fact, this is the first time I have ever seen an expo stand purely on ‘Customer Care’.

One other thing that impressed me was the launching of the Customer Care Handbook by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), sponsored by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

This handbook in English and Kinyarwanda is an educational tool that deals with basic knowledge on Customer Care.

The user-friendly 46 pages handbook is targeted at all people with a direct contact with customers.

The 14 chapters written in a simple language with many quotations is meant to be read within a short period.

Readers can even write in their actions plans at the end of each chapter.

The handbook deals with topics such as “Why is the Customer Important to my Business”, “My role as a contact staff”, Welcoming Customers”, “Selling Techniques” etc.

This handbook is really a must read material and all business owners should absolutely buy them for all their staff.

I think we can all agree that lots of effort is being put in creating awareness and sensitizing the public on the need on improving Customer Care.

What of you, what are you doing or what have you done already? What measures have you put in place since this issue has been raised?

President Paul Kagame is today the first advocate of the need of improving customer care in the country.

The last time I heard him talk about this issue was at the Parliament this week when he was presiding the presentation of the 2009/10 Performance Contract.

He reminded local leaders that the biggest challenge facing the country today is poor customer care both in the private and public sectors.

What is your solution to this problem? The time to complain and to sit back is over.

Today is the right time to do something. We can’t just wait for solutions to come from heaven. We are all collectively responsible and need to tackle this issue today.

This implies that both the private and public sector have to create a customer oriented environment by putting in place systems that will help team members improve on their service delivery.

As a business owner or a public servant officer, let your people know that the only reason to remain in business is to have satisfied and loyal customers. There is no other option in today’s economic environment.

Let’s all understand that good customer service doesn’t come by accident. We have to make sure that the basic and cutting edge customer service skills are consistently implemented.

You definitely need to offer basic trainings for your team members. Organize meetings and discussions with them and allow them to tell you also what needs to be done in your organization.

If you need your team members to offer good customer care, you will also have to establish credibility, reliability and responsiveness towards your customers.

When there are challenges in meeting customers’ deadlines, be proactive. Don’t just wait. Take quick measures to show to your customers that you are doing the best you can to meet those challenges.

You also have to become the first person in this change of mentality. Be the example that your staff can follow.

Remember that Management is nothing more than motivating other people. As says Natalie Calvert “Great teams need great leaders - leaders who inspire, motivate and instill pride, loyalty and a sense of fun at work”

Decide today to be the one who motivates your team and who instill this culture of good customer service and you will definitely see the reward on your bottom line.

The author is a customer service expert working in Rwanda

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