Ever since I have been a columnist, I have noticed that there are some articles that attract quite a number of responses from readers.
The article titled: “Business Etiquette in Responding to Mails and Correspondence” that was published two weeks ago has been one of the few that has drawn many comments and suggestions.
I have found the comments so interesting that I have decided to share some with you. Through the many emails I received, I realised that this practice of not returning calls or responding to official correspondences is still an issue for business relationships. I must admit that when I decided to write that article, I initially thought that I was the only one suffering from this until I received the numerous comments.
By analysing the comments; I realised this issue affects the both public and private institution as well retailers and big corporate organisations.
Here are few comments
“What you said on the culture of not returning emails and calls is spot on. It’s like one huge conspiracy of frustration. People ask you to invest in Rwanda and when it is time for them to respond to your mails and letters; there is a total silence. This practice has become an inherent part of the culture in which no one wants to be responsible. For organisations or businesses that want to be more service-oriented, they need more than just a vision or slogan. Responding to correspondences has got to be integrated into both the culture and daily operations” wrote Salha.
Celia’s mail reads: “This habit of not responding to correspondences is a real national issue because it concerns everyone…even me. We tend not to respond because responding means being responsible in writing one’s decision or opinion. The problem here is that at most times, we do not want to be accountable for what we write, so we would rather not respond by writing.”
“There‘s a Rwandan culture of not being able to say NO to a request. The reason why many people do not respond to letters is that when the answer to the request is a negative one, one finds it difficult to say so… people will rather keep silent until the person actually understands that the response is a negative one; it is our culture” says Helene
Jean’s email read “Rwandans do not like writing. Writing means being committed. And being committed means being responsible. The issue is that no one wants to be responsible. That is why no one takes time to respond. People are always afraid of what might come out or how their writing can be used. And you will be surprised to note that is seen from top levels down to junior staff level; from government agencies or ministries down to district levels”
Well dear readers, in today’s business environment, if we want to stand out from the crowd and be more professional and competitive as a nation, we need to adopt international business etiquette. Responding to letters is not a favour we are doing to correspondents but rather a minimum business requirement.
Let’s act responsibly and avoid hiding behind our screens, telephones or desks. One of the things we can do to build good relationships with our customers is to always be ready to respond to their mails,SMS’ and other official letters.
Thank you all once again for your support, feedback, suggestion and contribution to this column
The author is a customer service consultant working in Rwanda