Business owners in Rwanda may not know this, but the role of the security guards at a business premise is often significantly misused. Like any asset, business premises deserve a certain level of security to protect the business and the customers.
It is, therefore, common to have a company employing the services of a private security firm. What business owners sometimes forget is that the way these security personnel interact with ordinary customers has got such a large bearing on the health of the business.
The basic role of the security guards should always remain that of ensuring that the business premises are indeed secure. However, situations where the job description of the guards is not clearly defined certainly results in them being more of a nuisance than a service.
Armed with a critical eye, you will be shocked at just how many business premises in Kigali have security guards doubling as receptionists. This is a fatal business mistake since the guards are often not armed with the appropriate customer relation skills.
In cases where you have a security guard taking on the duties of a receptionist, the first casualty will be the security itself. If the guard is responsible for asking visitors where they are coming from, who they want to see and why, then he will certainly be compromising his security obligations. After all, as he is asking these questions he probably does not even have his gun close by and is, therefore, not in position to respond fast enough to a security threat.
These guards are often rude, uncompromising and poor communicators. Some have no clear idea on what the business they are guarding is all about. For example, I once found that the security guard at a Banque Populaire branch had closed the doors of the bank before time. Ironically, he had no watch and clearly didn’t know the official business hours of the bank.
A few weeks back I had to ignore a security guard who was telling me that there was no airtime in the Rwandatel store at Nyabugogo. The store was open and I just kept walking and, of course, when I asked the gentleman in the store for airtime he did sell it to me contrary to what the guard was saying. I left wondering whether Rwandatel was aware that their guard’s attempt to double as the store’s spokesman was nothing but a disgrace to their core business.
The biggest problem that some of the security guards have is that they believe people should fear (instead of respect). They end up trying so hard to establish their authority even where it is clearly not necessary.
Private security companies should take time to teach their guards to be more courteous when employed at business premises. Business owners should also keep an eye on the conduct of the security guards. More importantly, establishments like banks should never use security guards as receptionists or banking hall assistants. It is simply not their calling.