When it comes to customer care, the prevalent message has always been that a customer is king. This is pretty straight forward if business owners and service providers can recognise who is bringing the money and who is waiting for it. Treating a customer well is the best marketing campaign a company can run.
Unfortunately, this message has not sunk into some people’s heads yet. The other day, I overheard someone claiming to work in a bank telling a colleague, “How can he [the customer] be a king when he cannot write or sign for his money?”
Through such ignorance, the struggle to educate will have to continue and that is why I felt the need to return to this topic.
It is true that the treatment of customers has generally improved thanks to the numerous customer campaigns. However, there is still a problem of consistency where the good treatment is sometimes switched off. This is different from the preferential treatment usually accorded to those considered wealthy; a judgement often reached based on weak determinants like dress code or even language.
I have noticed that being the last customer is one of the worst things that may happen to you in this country. It appears that after a certain time, the smiles and courtesy that define good customer relations are switched off and by the time you show up, rudeness awaits you.
If you are the last to show up at the bank, don’t be shocked if the security guard, even without a watch to refer to insists that you are late and they have closed. Never mind that you will still be seeing people in the banking hall or that your watch indicates something else.
There is a day I walked into a restaurant at about 9:00pm. The gentleman at the reception told me there was no food left but as I was walking out, his colleague told me they still had food. I was served and I cannot describe the guilt on the first gentleman’s face as he received my money after telling me there was no food.
Then there are situations when you are the last customer in a restaurant and as you go about finishing your food, the workers in the establishment start piling chairs and tables and cleaning as if you did not exist! They do not have the courtesy to wait for you to finish your meal. This is nothing but disrespect to a person paying his hard earned money.
Even in the commuter taxis, the curse of being the last exists. The last customer to enter should not rule out falling in a thud as the driver will often drive off before you take your seat. At the local grocery shop, the last customer is often told ‘we are closed’ instead of being served.
If you are to be served, be shocked if you are reminded that it is a ‘favour’ even when you are the one paying. So, we have shopkeepers who are more interested in time than money. I thought you pay your taxes in Rwandan francs not minutes. Oh, those are the woes of being the last customer!