David Rutabangama MUNANA, Member, Entrepreneur, Rwanda

Competition is regarded to be the best strategy for tackling poor customer service in Rwanda

Rwanda is a landlocked country, which has achieved impressive development progress since the 1994 genocide and civil war. This country is at peace and among the most stable on the continent of Africa. Rwanda’s long-term development goals are embedded in its Vision 2020 which seeks to transform Rwanda from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy by 2020. Goals and objectives of Rwanda are clear, but one can wonder whether what is embedded in Vision 2020 handout will be achieved.
For a nation that aspires to become a service based economy, it is imperative its citizens and institutions are customer focused.
After their report 2009-2010, IPAR revealed that the root cause of poor customer service in Rwanda are organizations that are not customer centric (focused) and thus fail to put in place policies and procedures, that are aligned to providing good customer service.
Contrary to the general belief that the main cause of poor service delivery in Rwanda is a problem of mindset. After this report many public and private institutions have implemented what was suggested by IPAR,” training staff to be nice to clients, and strongly advised the organizations to put in place policies and procedures in order to be customer focused with appropriate customer service practices”.
However, the customer service has improved, but the bottom line is that the needed customer service is not yet achieved. Who is to blame, IPAR? Or our organizations?
Both of them are true, and have reason to make and implementing such conclusions. Because the problem of customer service is not for one entity or another, it is a serious issue that should be taken into account by all of Rwandese.
Our article is based on lack of competition as a root of poor customer service in Rwanda, and establishing the competition culture will be more effective way to tackle this problem. We are going to discuss on both private and public organizations.
Actually Rwandans are welcoming and smiling people, why they don’t keep the same image at work? Is it the matter of laziness or something else?
In private organizations, 71 percent of respondents deliver poor customer service because of they operate without a crucial competitor. They say, “We are lonely in this field, we have our loyal customers and we are not interested by new ones that is why we treat them as we want”. Only 6 percent said we don’t know how to behave in front of various customers, because they come from different places, they behave differently, that is the reason why we behave indifferently.
Fortunately, they are all afraid of upcoming competition. As the government of Rwanda has opened the doors for external investors, restructuring business regulations and laws to facilitate both national and international entities to enter in the business, this is a good and effective remedy for the poor customer service in the private sector in Rwanda. Once the perfect competition will be established, whoever delivers a poor customer service will close his business, and vice versa. They will get time to learn from each other, we expect them to be more creative and innovative in order to put down competitors.
The same as in public sector, the culture of competition have to be established. It must be organized by the Public Sector appropriate division and seeks to recognize and reward efforts of organizations to improve service-delivery to customers; to promote and encourage commitment, and continuous improvement in the quality of service to the public; To encourage former winners to maintain or surpass their standards of service-delivery; To further embed a service culture in the public sector; to demonstrate Government’s commitment to the vision of a public sector that puts the customer first. All Public Sector entities are expected to participate in the Customer Service Improvement programme and they include: Central Civil Service Organizations, Executive Agencies, Public Companies, Statutory Bodies, and Government Departments.
In some countries, the competition is now viewed with much anticipation by public sector entities that have been active in raising customer service standards on a continual and progressive basis.
Fortunately, Rwandan government has put in place “imihigo”, where local government competes for their settled performances, we suggest to strongly highlighting the customer service delivering.
Finally, we encourage the government of Rwanda for its effort to enhance customer service through competition and other solutions, as we wish a service based economy in 2020 vision.
By David R. MUNANA

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