CUSTOMER CARE: Our attitude will determine our altitude

Customer service has been for several months now the main topic of discussion in town and in the media. A lot of effort is being made to improve on service delivery both in the public and private sector here in Rwanda.

Customer service has been for several months now the main topic of discussion in town and in the media. A lot of effort is being made to improve on service delivery both in the public and private sector here in Rwanda.

Customer care evolves around three main elements that are crucial and often described as the “ABC” of service. They are Attitude, Behavior and Competence.

The Attitudes and Behaviors play such an important role that they often outshine over skills and competence. In a Harvard survey, it has been proven that skills represent only 15 percent on the impact of customer service while Attitudes represent 85 percent.

Our attitudes dictate to our mindset and make us adopt certain behaviors. Our mindset is therefore very important. Johan Wolfgang von Goethe says that “Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image.”

Talking about customer care means improving the way we behave in the society first towards one another then towards the customer. Do we greet one another in town?

Do we show consideration to people around us? Do we value the people we meet? Do we still think that greeting an unknown person for instance is a sign of inferiority?
Our answers to the above questions should help us understand the type of mindset and attitudes we show to people in our societies.

What is an attitude by the way? Attitudes are defined as the established ways of responding to people and situations that we have learned, based on the beliefs, values and assumptions we hold. Attitudes also manifested through your behavior.

John C. Maxwell says that “We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.”

We are not born with our attitudes. It is always a choice we make. In front of daily life’s situations, we have the power to react either positively or negatively. It’s simply our personal decision.

An example of the type of attitudes we need to change is what happened to me some time back as I was walking on pavements of Nyarutarama.

I almost received a big spit on my face from this pedestrian. What really shocked me was the reaction of this man. He didn’t feign any sign of apology. He didn’t have any regret of whatsoever. He simply looked at me and continued walking without any word.

This incident made me think about how we deal with one another in our daily lives. There is no way we can achieve good customer care behaviors if we are not able to show courtesy and good manners towards the people we live with. 

Customer care should imply that we show each other some consideration, respect, civility, courtesy and care.

Let’s start with this change in our attitudes and this will definitely been seen in our professional lives.

Being courteous to each other is not only respectful to others, but it directly reflects on we are as a people. How can we talk about customer care when we cannot say a simple phrase like “I’m sorry”? Saying “Sorry” is not a sign of inferiority but rather a sign of greatness.

In our daily lives, for instance, let’s be courteous and greet people we meet whether they are our friends or not. A “hello”, “thank You” and “goodbye” should be part of our daily vocabularies.

Another thought that came into my mind after the behavior of this man who almost spit on me; was that maybe he didn’t know he had done something wrong.

That’s why a lot of efforts need to be done at local levels. I know many people do not have access to The New Times to read some of the articles on Customer Care or simply just be part of the national awareness campaign on Customer Care being implemented by the Rwanda Development Board.

But the challenge for this country is that every person should be part of what is happening towards the improvement of service delivery.

It is for this reason that I’ll respectfully call upon local authorities to sensitize people at local levels. During the Umuganda for instance, discussions should be on attitudes that promote good customer care in our societies.

As says William Glasser, “If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior. Gradually, the old, fearful person will fade away.”

Let’s all start today to adopt positive attitudes for a quick behavioral change in our societies for the benefit of all of us here.

Remember “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” says Zig Ziglar.

The author is a customer service consultant working in Rwanda.

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