Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

3 December 2012

Rwanda: 'Rwandans Are Fed Up With Poor Customer Care' - PM

Rwandans, it seems are not happy at all with the way they are served. According to a recent survey into customer satisfaction, the public sector scores 70.44% when it comes to service delivery while the private sector gets an appalling 51.4%.

This comes despite numerous efforts by the government to provide training to both the public and private sector and carry out sensitization on customer service. And now it is taking its efforts to the next level: last week, it launched a three-month evaluation, monitoring and enforcement campaign in which a task force will go on the ground to inspect the quality of service and listen to customers' complaints through surprise visits in both public and private establishments.

They have their work cut out for them. According to the above-mentioned survey, in the public sector the worst offenders are health centers and hospitals, EWSA, the Social Security Board, Rwanda Revenue Authority, the National Land Center, the justice department (delayed trials), all public institutions when it comes to paying contractors, delivery of construction permits providers at the district level, and the certification services in districts. In the private sector, hotels, bars and restaurants stood out for questionable services - despite them constituting the 'hospitality sector.'

Leading the campaign for quality of service, Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi stressed that with little natural resources and as a landlocked country, hospitality and quality service is not an option. "We have to adopt quality service delivery standards. As we have no other resources to rely on, we have to develop the tourism sector by adopting good customer care," he said. "But our first clients are Rwandans, and they are fed up with poor customer care."

Habumuremyi reminded public servants that it is their duty to serve the citizens, and this must be done thorough adopting quality service delivery standards. "For the private sector, it is surprising that they are behind the public one - they should be the ones leading, because for them it is a service-money business. If you think that you don't have to improve your services, you better stop your business, Rwanda is probably is not the place for you," the PM warned.

Suggestion boxes

Habumuremyi also pointed out not only the individual organization's reputation is at stake, but also that of the country, and he did not pull punches in singling out specific institutions. "Almost everyone in the country has problems with EWSA, what is wrong with you people? Is it the monopoly that makes that you don't care about your customers?" he asked.

He didn't spare the private sector either. "We have been to our hotels; we order something and wait for hours and hours. Is that the way we are supposed to operate?"

Dennis Karera, the chairman of the Rwanda Hotels and Restaurants Association (RHRA), admitted that there are some hospitality sector operators who deliver poor services, but he pointed the finger back to the government.

"Our association has 34 member hotels, bars and restaurants countrywide. We are trying to catch up with East African standards, but we blame some government institutions which work with business that are not members of the association," he said. "Our obligation as members is to abide by the set standards; boycotting non-members will make them join the association, and catch up with our customer care standards."

And from now on, it will be easier for customers to complain, after the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) launched a suggestion-box program for all accommodation establishments, the feedback of which will be controlled not by the business owners themselves but by RDB officials.

"For us in tourism and hospitality sector, customer care is our priority," said RDB's head of tourism Rica Rwigamba. "This initiative will help us get feedback, which will be a basis for improving the quality of service hence customer satisfaction. For us, customer care must be a culture."

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