Top managers, too, need good customer service skills

An unfortunate and rather discouraging negative service experience with one of the big institutions in Rwanda, last week, led us into an online discussion on The ServiceMag forum. It was titled “What should be done when one of the big and most respected institutions has extremely poor customer service?

An unfortunate and rather discouraging negative service experience with one of the big institutions in Rwanda, last week, led us into an online discussion on The ServiceMag forum. It was titled “What should be done when one of the big and most respected institutions has extremely poor customer service?

The number of answers we received was unimaginably thought provoking. One of such answers read “Write to them about the poor service and if nothing is done then expose this in the media.” Then another person wrote: “Do not put this in the media please. It will bring you more problems than you can even imagine.

I will suggest that you use sketch/videos or organize a workshop on that”
The debate is still going on and it is interesting to see how customer service can still generate so much passion from all of us. Vincent’s comment drew my attention as it highlighted a serious concern. He said: “Even those bosses, MD’s and CEO’s have to be trained on customer service.

Who says customer service trainings and sensitisation concern only people at front office: receptionists, waiters, tellers, and the like? This campaign has to go beyond that. Key staffs, especially management has to play their role to make it happen.”

This is a great point. In most parts of the world, Rwanda in particular, many people think that customer service is only about smiling or greeting. 

According to Wikipedia, “Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organise, automate, and synchronise business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support.”

This definition clearly shows that customer service management goes beyond the interface department. It concerns, to a great extent, procedures, strategies, policies, technology, the translation of the company’s vision and mission into daily actions and attitudes etc.

This, therefore, requires the implication of top managers who also have to be service oriented. Customer service is not destined for certain categories of people or institutions; neither is it targeted only at the retail outlets or the private companies. It concerns every organisation starting from the top management.

Improving service delivery in Rwanda is not just about sending employees to trainings when the top managers themselves do none of the things their employees are thought to do. It is simply not sufficient to tell employees what they should do when the manager does the opposite of what he preaches.

As a top manager or CEO, if you put in place policies, then you need to be the best example of what you want to see from your team members. You should be a model of your expectation.

It is said that good leadership is more than simply getting people to follow you; it’s getting people to follow you doing the right things. And that is why you need to be exemplary. Be punctual, honour your commitments, respond to mails and other correspondences, respect people you deal with, be professional always and all these will escalade down to how your employees treat customers. This might be a heavy responsibility but this is the only way you can drive others forward.  Mahatma Gandhi says that “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

If service delivery should improve in Rwanda, it should start from the top.

The author is a customer service consultant and the Publisher of The ServiceMag.

Contact: sidossou@theservicemag.com

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