CUSTOMER CARE: Customer service, a real challenge throughout Africa

Recently I was in three African countries and realized at what point many companies were striving very hard to be the best they could. It seems like everyone is just looking for ways of getting the attention of their customers.

Recently I was in three African countries and realized at what point many companies were striving very hard to be the best they could.

It seems like everyone is just looking for ways of getting the attention of their customers.

I don’t know if this is due to the global economic crisis that has somehow affected Africa but I had the impression that many businesses throughout the continent were grappling with customer services management.

Many are facing immense challenges in revenue generation and fighting over the mediocrity of service offered.

In one of the countries, I found a telephone company offering some free airtime for seven good months to their customers upon buying a Sim-card.

There were actually six different telephone companies in this country so you can imagine that it is a real favor the customer does to them when he/she chooses one network out of the numerous existing companies.

In one bank, customers were offered free snacks and soft drinks while they were waiting (I really can’t tell if they do that every day or if this was only on certain days as I was there on a Friday afternoon)

In another country, the lady at the counter simply came out from her counter to see me off when I was leaving her. She talked to me as if I was her friend.

She touched my emotions through the way she made me feel.

When we talk of customer service in Rwanda, we all need to understand that it is a real challenge not only here but throughout the continent.

Customer service is neither a choice nor an alternative but rather an urgent necessity.

All over Africa, service providing companies are determined and working towards ways of keeping their customers and growing their market share.

Here in Rwanda, this should not be different. As part of the East African Community where I muss confess that people are very aggressive in their way of doing business, people of Rwanda need to wake up and roll back their sleeves. Rwandans needs to become more professional through their skills and attitudes while dealing with customers.

Of course, there are so many positive things happening here and we are all very proud of the development taking place in this country.

But hey, people of Rwanda, let’s be frank to one another. Good customer service in many areas is still lacking behind.

Since the time the people and government of Rwanda started complaining about service delivery, if you have not taking any corrective measure yet, then you should be ashamed of yourself. You are definitely part of the problem.

If you are a business owner waiting for the miracle of good service to come down from heaven just like that in a twinkle of an eye, then you are completely day dreaming.

If you have not yet trained your staff on their attitudes and skills, then you don’t value neither your business nor the development of Rwanda.

Today the private and public sector, retail and corporate company, small and big organizations, need to do something urgently. We all need to use customer service tools to ensure our customers satisfaction, their retention and ultimately our financial growth.

This implies that we mobilize each and every member of our team to deal with the countless challenges of good customer service; and this on a daily basis.

We need to make our people understand that offering good customer service will make our businesses gain the competitive advantage that will allow us to “retain” our current clients and “attract” many more customers.

We also need to avoid too much of bureaucracy in order to ensure that administrative challenges form part of your operations and does not become the core function.

Let’s also try to communicating clearly and concisely to our employees the knowledge of the products we are selling in order to avoid confusion and miscommunication with customers. Let’s equip our people as someone once said “The quality of our work depends on the quality of our people.

We should all keep in mind that we are the first beneficiaries of good customer service; so let’s not waste time.

William H. Davidow says that “The longer you wait, the harder it is to produce outstanding customer service.”

So today is the right day to put something in place in your business for your own benefit and for the growth of Rwanda.

The author is a customer service expert working in Rwanda.

sandra.idossou@sheiconsulting.com

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