As Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the Customer Service Week with the theme “Building Trust,” officials at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) emphasised the importance of trust between an organisation and its customers, and between co-workers.
During the week, which takes place every year in the first week of October, private and public institutions took special initiatives ranging from giving gifts to customers to managers showing special appreciation to their employees.
“All customer service providers in Rwanda were urged to celebrate the service week and this was successfully done,” said Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at RDB. “We observed a lot of activities during the week through different platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.”
“We saw managers writing notes by hand to acknowledge a job well done, while others sent e-cards to highlight the contribution of employees and show their appreciation,” she added.
Kariza particularly commended KCB Bank Rwanda, which sent personalised tweets to all its customers.
The week was closed with a ceremony during which exceptional customer service providers (individuals or institutions) were recognised, nominated by the public via social media.
While all of them were worthy recipients and received a lot of applause, some of them stood out. There was a lot for excitement, for instance, at the nominations of Senior Sergeant Alex Murenzi, an officer at the police’s traffic department, and Antoinette Kayitesi, a former security officer at Access Bank who was later promoted to her current post of a customer service agent.
“I believe everyone who goes through Gishushu can testify that this police officer [Murenzi, ed.] absolutely deserves this award,” Kariza commented in a tweet, and many concurred.
Other nominees were Etienne Uwiringiyimana, an official at Nyaruguru District; Evelyne Muteeteri, a customer care officer at the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB); Jean Pierre Kizito who works at the Ministry of Justice; Morris Ndekwe from Vine Pharmacy in Kigali; Lillian Ingabire, a procurement officer at RISA; Denis Ngoga, an employee at Galaxy Hotel Rwanda; Sylivanus Kagiraneza, a security officer at I&M Bank with an eternal natural smile; and Dr. Mohamed Okasha.
At the ceremony, Kariza observed that good customer service should however be a permanent attitude, and not just for one week.
“I think customer care should not end this week, it should be a culture and it should keep improving,” she noted.
Clare Akamanzi the RDB CEO, for her part paid tribute to President Paul Kagame for cultivating good service among Rwandans.
“This is very important and we are proud as Rwandans; many would recognize that the President did start a page of good customer care and asked to observe it at individual, institutional and country level. Today, we have managed to change the mindset towards customer service,” she observed.
Akamanzi explained that the purpose of celebrating customer service week is to enable economic actors to assess progress and outstanding challenges.
“We look back and celebrate where we have come from; we celebrate the achievements and progress, and also challenge ourselves on remaining problems,” she said.
The RDB CEO also made a special reference to the police and the immigration services, which she said had made great strides in improving in customer care and created a memorable impression in her.
She recalled for instance that a long time ago, a police officer asked her if it was indeed necessary to smile when he stopped a car.
“Indeed, we have come from far, now the achievement in the area of service delivery by the Rwandan police as an institution is worth celebrating,” Akamanzi said.
The immigration services, in her opinion, are an example of people who go beyond their duty to serve their clients.
“When people come to pick their passports or visa on their birthday, the immigration department surprises them with flowers,” Akamanzi said to much applause.
For the Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, the awards are an incentive for good customer care, which is a prerequisite for the service-based economy that Rwanda envisages.
“Today’s recognition is a clear message to others to emulate the winners and provide good customer care to their clients,” he observed.
“As the government strives to build a service-based economy, we cannot achieve anything if the services we are providing are poor. Therefore, it is crucial to understand what is needed to provide good customer care and this exercise should be carried out by every Rwandan, every businessperson, and every employee in an organization, top or bottom. The attitude, ambition and thinking should be driven by the spirit of treating our citizens and clients in a dignified manner,” he added.
Munyeshyaka noted that the culture of customer care should not be seen as the duty of frontline employees, and called on all institutions’ leadership to embrace it in every action plan they make. He suggested that institutions make performance contracts on customer service. He also called on Rwandans to live by their core values.
“I would like to stress again the need to be respectful, friendly, polite and well-mannered towards others to contribute to good customer service,” he remarked.
The Minister said the customer service week should be an opportunity for workers and Rwandans in general to reflect on the work they do and make new commitments to deliver good services.
“Thank you to all of the bright, innovative and hard-working companies that have come here tonight,” he concluded the ceremony. “You are the reason why we are all here tonight, and your hard work is benefitting our country as a whole. You are a role model to other aspiring entrepreneurs all over Rwanda.”
Read this article and more in issue n° 79 of Hope Magazine.