One year of Customer Care Articles in The New Times

It has been a year now since I started writing the Customer Care articles in The New Times and I’m quiet impressed by the loyal readership this column has gained over these twelve months. Based on the numerous feedbacks I receive, I have no doubt that this column has positively affected readers’ lives and produced tangible benefits for the business community here. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support, for your comments and especially your suggestions.

It has been a year now since I started writing the Customer Care articles in The New Times and I’m quiet impressed by the loyal readership this column has gained over these twelve months. Based on the numerous feedbacks I receive, I have no doubt that this column has positively affected readers’ lives and produced tangible benefits for the business community here. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support, for your comments and especially your suggestions.

This column wouldn’t have become the sought-after reading section in The New Times without your loyalty. You cannot imagine how motivated I feel every time I receive your mails.  

The first time I was contacted by the OTF team in Rwanda to write an article on Customer Care in The New Times, I felt privileged to be able to share what has actually been my job for the past 12 years.

Let’s recall that In January 2009, President Kagame and his government decided to tackle the issue of poor customer service during their last leadership retreat in Gisenyi.

Even since, the topic of good service delivery has been the talk among business owners. Rwanda is lucky to have its president become the first advocate of good customer care both in the private and public institutions.

Later after that, the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) invited the media to be involved in the nationwide campaign and that is where I actually started this weekly column. 

The first article titled “Outstanding Customer Service” was published on February 3rd 2009 and attracted a lot of positive comments. Writing the weekly educative column has become since then an interesting journey. 

My personal objective in writing these weekly articles is to contribute to the improvement of service delivery in Rwanda.

I have been living and working in Rwanda for some time now and I feel we are all responsible one way or the way; either as service providers or simply as customers. 

Through this column, I feel connected to many people out there even if I do not know them. Sometimes, I write as if I’m talking to friends.

I write based on the experiences I have as a trainer, as a consultant and simply as any normal customer. I often say that a miracle will never happen if we all sit and do nothing. It’s good to complain but it is even better to take actions that will correct those complaints.

From the feedback I receive from readers, I have understood how “addicted” some people have become to this column. Last time, I learnt that there are actually many more people who read this column on internet than by the hard copy of the newspaper. 

With the 52 articles already published, I still have the impression that so much more needs to be done. I personally think that the Newtimes should be more accessible to many more people and not only to a certain category of people. People in town need to be able to buy this newspaper on the street.  

Another challenge I see is the need of having a reading culture in Rwanda. We cannot improve on our attitudes and skills if we do not read and learn new ways of doing things.

How can we embrace more knowledge if we do not read? 
The world is moving so fast that sitting there in our offices or businesses thinking that we are the best, is surely an easy way of digging our own potholes.

We need to continuously learn and improve on our ways and systems. I read somewhere that “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives”. 

In other words, Knowledge is Power. If we want service delivery to improve in Rwanda, we need to empower service people with knowledge. Let’s sensitize people to read.

Let’s offer them the possibility of accessing newspapers, books, magazine and everything that can shape their minds. Empowering through knowledge means that we all put effort in training our people.  

One thing is to have the knowledge but the most important thing is to put in to practice. As a frequent reader of this column, are you putting into practice what you read here?

Do you challenge yourself with some of the few lessons you get from these articles? Can you proudly say that you are the first to portray good customer care attitudes in your office? Are you the good example to your people around you?

Let’s not just read, but let’s act. 

As Rwanda targets it’s Vision 2020, how far are we today in February 2010? Are our working systems more dynamic and more professional? Are people in our institutions part of this vision? Do they know what role they have to play in order to reach this great vision 2020?   

Well, people of and in Rwanda; we have a collective destiny and we need to adopt individual positive mindset and attitudes towards our work that will mould our future as a nation.

Remember that our daily individual Attitude determines our collective Altitude as a nation.

Let’s all decide today to adopt positive ways of behaving towards one another and this is definitely impact on how we behave towards customers.

Thank you once again for your frequent feedback and I hope to receive more this year.
 
sandra.idossou@sheiconsulting.com

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