SERVICEMAG MARY BAINE PLUS THE TIPS FOR THE MANAGER: UBURYO 10. L ENVERS DU SERVICE Le quotidien d un employé

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1 Issue 2: June - August 2010 THE SERVICEMAG ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SERVICES MARY BAINE COMMISSIONER GENERAL, RWANDA REVENUE AUTHORITY on Good Customer Service in Rwanda It may not take a day or even a year but we will get there! TIPS FOR THE MANAGER: How to ensure your business delivers exceptional service L ENVERS DU SERVICE Le quotidien d un employé UBURYO 10 Budansanzwe mu guha umukiriya servisi nziza PLUS Our readers tell where they have been and how they were treated FREE COPY

2 Gira Ubupfura P

3 ublisher s Note Welcome to the second issue of the Service Mag, your magazine. It s been over three months now since the first edition was launched. The launching ceremony was a colourful gathering that brought together people from different sectors of the service industry. Thanks again to the fifteen companies that sponsored it. We thank you all for your generous comments and suggestions. They have helped us make this issue even better than the first. Who says good service delivery is the sole responsibility of the private sector? Service delivery is an issue of national concern and every sector of the economy is doing its best. In this issue we have interviewed Mary Baine, Rwanda Revenue Authority s Commissioner General. She shares RRA s experience in improving customer service and advises customers and managers to keep at it. For her, excellent customer service in Rwanda is only a matter of time if this effort is maintained. Amin Gafaranga, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB)s Branding Manager tells us what has been put in place in the public service. So yes; if you are working in a public institution, this issue is for you. Financial institutions have been criticized a lot for long queues; dysfunctional ATM machines; unprofessionalism of the staff etc But what needs to be said is also the effort that this sector is putting in to change this. Governor François Kanimba of the Central Bank of Rwanda shares his opinion on the importance of customer service in the financial institutions of Rwanda. And your usual column Have your say plus Where we have been how we were treated where many customers share their experiences and express their feelings and perceptions about what is important for service delivery. The new thing is that we have decided to give the names of these places customers have been to. In case you see the name of your company cited either positively or negatively, do not take this personal. The only reason is to create awareness and sensitize. We hereby invite you all to contribute to these columns. Service delivery in Rwanda can only change if we all put in an effort to adopt positive daily attitudes. Read the two articles on the need of change. Change is a long process. Change will need a lot of education and sensitization from all of us. After reading this magazine, do not add it to the pile of reading materials on your desk. Please share it with people around you. They are either service providers or simply customers. And the change we are talking about needs the implication of both the customer and the service provider. Remember Knowledge is Power Published By Shei & Enz Consulting P.O.Box 3425 Kigali Rwanda The opinions expressed in The ServiceMag and The ServiceMag Online do not necessarily reflect those of the editor, publishers or their agents. Even though getting sponsors for this edition has again been a real challenge, we would like to thank sincerely all those who made this edition possible; on your behalf the 15 sponsors and 16 contributors. Enjoy the reading. Sandra Idossou Publisher

4 Publisher Sandra Idossou Design & Layout Julius Kwame Phone Editor English Aryantungyisa Otiti Editor French Diana Ramarohetra Kinyarwanda Translator Gaspard Habarurema Contributors Governor Francois Kanimba, Linda Pophal,Bea Umwiza, Denise Umunyana, Efua Hagen, Eva Gakara, Hubert Rutage Ruzibiza, Ipar, Juliet Mbabazi, Kofi Hagan, Lena Militisi, Ezechiel Ouedraogo, Chantal da Silveira, Françoise Mukashyaka & Saul Butera hat s where? FEATURES 10 Things For Effective Customer Service Training 06 Give It Time! Interview With Mary Baine (Cover Interview) 08 The Value Of Coaching 14 Why Your Attitude Matters 15 Successful Company Interiors 16 Service Delivery Within Financial Institutions 18 Kigali international airport Achieving Customer Service Excellence 22 Customer Service: Root Causes Versus Symptoms 24 INTERVIEWS/PROFILES Service In The Public Sector (interview with Amin Gafaranga} 26 READER INTERACTION Uko bafata igihe mu Rwanda no muri Afurika? 31 Courtesy Of Returning Calls! 33 Issue 2 June-August Sponsors Diamond Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Cogebanque Gold Rwandair, Kenya Airways, Kobil, Electrogaz, ATC Rwanda, Akagera Paints, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, PSI, Bralirwa, Shei & Enz Consulting Silver Fina Bank, Engen Photography Adam Scotti Articles and contributions are welcome. If you would like to share your positive or negative customer service experience for our readers to learn from, or a tip that has helped you to serve your customers better please send it to Queuing, touching and shaking hands! Learning a new culture! 34 NEWS Qu est-ce qui tue votre image? 36 Bralirwa Spearheads Professional Careers For Fresh Graduates 37 HAVE YOUR SAY Where We Have Been & How We Were Treated! 38 Abakiriya na bo bashobora kugira uruhare mu itangwa rya serivisi mbi 42 Improving Employee Attitude 44 Vous Avez Dit Gestion De Plainte 47 Le Quotidien D un Employé 48 Uburyo 10 Budasanzwe Mu Guha Umukiriya Serivisi Nziza 50 PICTORIAL 51 CARTOON 54 Macali: Mbega serivisi! 40 26

5 YourMail COURRIERS DES LECTEURS, URUBUGA RW ABASOMYI I saw your magazine the first time at the Bourbon coffee at UTC. At first, I thought I had to pay for it. But the waiter told me it was free. Then I rapidly glanced through it and I loved everything I read. Keep it up. And please make it more accessible. - Victor from Sweden Mfite inyota yo kongera gusoma nimero ya kabiri y iki gitabo cyanyu. Inyandiko mwanditsemo ziracukumbuye kandi zitanga ubutumwa buduhugura. Twifuzaga ko mwashaka ahantu mu mujyi umuntu yashakira iki gitabo cyanyu. - James Uwuneza Quand un agent est entré dans ma petite quincaillerie à Butare pour me remettre votre magazine, j ai été d abord réticent parce que je m attendais à ce qu il me fasse payer. Mais quand il m a expliqué que c est gratuit parce que ça été sponsorisé par les entreprises locales, j ai été très touché. Je voudrais donc par le biais de votre magazine remercier, au nom de tous vos lecteurs, vos 15 sponsors. Merci de participer à l éducation de toute la population Jacques Kayitessi Congrats to the service mag team. Keep it up. The quality of the print is great. Magda At the beginning; I didn t know where to get a copy of your magazine so I went on internet and just googled. I was impressed by the interactive website. When I finally got the hard copy; I noticed that all the content was also on your website. Can you please communicate more on your website. I m sure that are many people who could learn lots from it. Je suis réceptionniste dans un ministère de la place. Pourriez vous, s il vous plaît, distribuer votre magazine à tous les fonctionnaires? Ils offrent souvent un mauvais service parce que personne n a pris le temps de leur expliquer ce qu ils doivent faire. Merci pour votre contribution dans la sensibilisation du personnel travaillant dans le secteur privé et public. I loved the cartoon in Kinyarwanda especially concerning the service at the hospital. I am a nurse and found myself in the cartoon. Can you please put more articles concerning service at health sectors? - Victoire I learnt 3 things from the Serena MD s interview. recruiting people with the right attitude, giving them good training, and strict supervision Nitwa Cynthia nkora muri cyber café iri Nyabugogo. Mushobora kujya mushyira inyandiko nyinshi mu Kinyarwanda? Ndabona ibyanditsemo ari byiza, ntegerezanyije ubwuzu indi nimero izasohoka. Murakoze mugire akazi keza. Write to us Connect with us on

6 Things for Effective Customer Service Training By Linda Pophal It may come as a surprise to learn that the most important people are your employees. Customers come second. Without qualified and well-trained employees committed to strong customer service all of your efforts to please customers will be fruitless. Customer service training has become a popular way for service organizations to provide employees with the information they need to meet customer needs. It should not, however, be considered a one-time or annual event. Customer service training is an ongoing process that needs to be incorporated into the organization s culture and way of doing business. Good customer service training will be based on the needs of your organization as well as the skill level of your employees. Following are some key elements in ensuring that your customer service training efforts get results. 1) Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish with your customer service training efforts? Your answer will be unique to your business, the product or service you provide and the type of customer you serve. For example, if you run a dry cleaning business, your expectation may be that customers are greeted promptly when they come into your store, that clothing is cleaned to their specifications and that any problems or issues are resolved according to prescribed policies/practices that have been clearly communicated to customers. If you run a consulting business your customer service expectations may include lengthy interactions with clients to clearly determine their needs, identified check-points throughout the consulting process, etc. Regardless of the specifics, you need to have a clear idea of the end results you re looking for. Then you can use these results to help direct the focus of your customer service training efforts. 2) Define success. Employees need to have clear expectations; they want to succeed, but they need to know what success looks like and how you will be judging their efforts. Based on the objectives 6 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

7 you identified, quantify as best you can measures of customer service success. Provide these measures to employees as the goals they will be charged with obtaining. 3) Communicate your expectations. Be specific. Don t assume that employees know what you expect in terms of service. Be specific and make sure you catch them early. A new employee s orientation is the time to let them know what your service expectations are. 4) Provide the tools that employees need to serve your customers. Employees need tools, and need to know how to use those tools, to serve customers effectively. For example, if employees don t have access to they may be hampered in communicating effectively with their customers. Or, if a graphic designer doesn t have the latest software and appropriate hardware, he or she may not be able to provide high quality or timely turnaround to clients. A cell phone may be a critical tool for a sales person who is frequently away from his or her desk. 5) Let employees know their limits. Your employees need to know your policies and practices with regard to satisfying customers and responding to complaints. The more flexibility you re able to offer and the more clearly you communicate these guidelines, the better able employees will be to meet customer needs. Customers benefit, too, when employees are able to resolve situations on the spot instead of having to talk to my manager. 6) Gather Common Situations and Scenarios To Use As Examples. Your customer service training should be real. Examples gathered from the real life experience if your employees can help to highlight bad/good/better/ best examples of working with clients and customers. Involve employees in providing training. Enlist the aid of your most service-successful employees in training and coaching others. 7) Role play common challenging situations. Provide employees with an opportunity to practice their responses then, when a real situation occurs they will have a higher comfort level about their ability to respond effectively. Your staff will watch not only how you interact with customers, but what you say about your customers. 8) Encourage employees to talk to their worst nightmare customers. Customers who are most demanding, complain the loudest or who are hardest to please can be a rich source of information in your customer service improvement efforts. After all, if you can please these tough customers you should be able to consistently delight your average customers. Behind the complaints and the demands you ll often find very valid points and issues that you can use to improve service. Resist the urge to ignore the tough customers; consider them your best resource for good information on service improvement. 9) Share failures - celebrate successes. Don t just focus on successes. Don t just point out failures. You need a good balance of both failure and success stories to build a strong service culture. Staff can learn from their own failures as well as the failures of others. Treat each failure not as an opportunity to punish staff, but as an opportunity to learn. Why did the failure occur? What could be done differently next time to avoid such a failure? What lessons might other staff learn to avoid these issues? Similarly, take time to celebrate your successes and to share these success examples with all employees. Sometimes the best customer service training for staff can be a good debriefing of either a positive or negative customer situation. These debriefings can also be good opportunities for role playing. 10) The Most Effective Training? The Example You Set. Your staff will watch not only how you interact with customers, but what you say about your customers. If your attitude toward customers is disparaging, this sends a very strong, negative, message to employees. Make sure you re being a strong role model - both in word and deed. Compiled by the CEO of Strategic Communications, a marketing and communication consultancy firm. Quote We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. Jeff Bezos Founder Amazon.com The SERVICEMAG June - August

8 GIVE IT TIME! INTERVIEW WITH MARY BAINE By A.K. Otiti When it comes to achieving good customer service in Rwanda, Mary Baine, Commissioner General (CG), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) says KEEP UP THE EFFORT! It may not take a day, it might not even take a year but if we keep at it, we will get there. 8 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

9 P H O T O G R A P H Y A D A M S C O T T i The SERVICEMAG June - August

10 Mary Baine has worked for the Rwanda Revenue Authority for about 19 years, the last four of which she has served as Commissioner General. She enjoys the fact that her job gives her the opportunity to meet many people and be able to resolve problems both at national and at the level of individual businesses. Such a position requires a certain caliber of personality. It is little wonder then that Ms. Baine is a hardworking woman who values integrity and selflessness above all. As Head of RRA, her main duties include overseeing the core functions of the institution which include collecting government revenue and accounting for it; articulating policies that facilitate trade and advising government on taxation policies. Rwanda Revenue Authority employs close to 1,000 people. It is also the Commissioner General s responsibility to oversee the staff and handle issues to do with staff development and capacity development; to ensure that staff members are well equipped to manage their day to day roles. As Commissioner General, Ms. Baine feels privileged to be one of those contributing to weaning Rwanda from foreign aid. As a tax administration we have grown from a time when we were collecting only 15% of our revenue to last year when we were able to collect 52% of the revenues that go into financing our national budget she says. My dream is for us to go up to 100% and whether I am here or not I will feel very proud to have been part of that history. Although many may not regard Rwanda Revenue Authority as a service organization, the Commissioner General says she sees RRA primarily as a service provider. People do not consider taxation as a service and they often see us as taking away from them rather than serving them, Mary Baine says, however, we are providing a service because we are helping members of society meet their obligations. She explains that there is a social contract between the state and the citizens, which contract stipulates that the tax payer meets their obligation by paying taxes and the state puts those taxes to use by directing them into different development projects. Since the tax administration facilitates this contract, it is providing a service to the state and its citizens. With such a huge staff, how easy is it to ensure that each of them is doing their part and offering good customer service? Not easy, the CG admits, but the Authority has put in place some measures to encourage all to offer good customer service and deter those who would lean to poor service. She explains that before anybody starts working for RRA, they go through training, part of which training is on customer care. The Commissioner General explains that since it is already difficult for people to part with their money in form of taxes, it is imperative for tax officers to make it as easy as possible for the tax payer by providing exceptional customer service. This training prepares them to do so. After the initial training, staff members then sign a performance contract and part of this is related to customer care. That means that we monitor how they behave towards customers and this is going to have an impact on how they are rated. Everybody wants a good rating since promotion and further training opportunities are based on one s rating, Ms. Baine explains. Every RRA employee is therefore aware that in spite of the difficulty of offering a service such as taxation, they should maintain professionalism in the way they deal with tax payers, whether the tax payers are irate or pleasant. In addition to training and performance ratings, there are punitive measures for those who will not comply. The Commissioner General points out that she and her management team are very firm on that and there have even been dismissals as a result of poor customer service. Asked if she is happy with the quality of customer service RRA offers, the CG admits that despite all the efforts put in place, they still have a long way to go. Considering that this is a sensitive service and that customers may not always understand, it requires an extra dose of patience to offer exceptional service. I can tell you we have made very huge strides in terms of improving customer care but I am still not very happy she says. I know we have not arrived and I know there is a still lot we can do. She is confident however that though the journey may be long, since they have come this far, they will make it all the way with more effort and concerted team work. Service providers and businesses have also got to be proactive about getting feedback from clients and customers in order to improve their services. When it comes to fighting poor customer service, one of the challenges is that people who receive poor services do not complain, neither do they demand for better services. Service providers and businesses have also got to be proactive about getting feedback from clients and customers in order to improve their services. RRA has put some feelers out to make sure they get to know how their customers rate their service and Ms. Baine shares how RRA does this. Every year, RRA carries out a taxpayer satisfaction survey. In addition, through 10 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

11 P H O T O G R A P H Y A D A M S C O T T i The SERVICEMAG June - August

12 In a typical Rwandan household, when visitors come they are very well received. If you can receive guests very well at home, then why do you have an attitude at work? the year, the Authority also holds outreach programmes and tax clinics at which tax payers are free to ask any questions and make comments on the quality of service RRA offers. Tax payers are also free to make comments over the radio and other than that, the CG herself receives many calls from people either complaining or giving her information on services her staff provides. No doubt there is always a need to change mindsets when it comes to fighting corruption and poor service. This is never easy and although RRA has achieved a measure of success, it has not been easy, as the CG reveals. In her opinion, the internal factors are easier to deal with than the external. Internally, corporate culture, training, monitoring and punitive measures have a way of reigning in officers so that they clearly understand that they must provide good customer care. Ms. Baine advises managers to ensure that their staff receive training in customer care, understand the corporate culture and understand that there are consequences for noncompliance. We recruit from the same Rwandan public that is having problems with customer care, she says, therefore those people come in with the same problems out there and we should not assume that if we keep talking about it, it will just happen. Some people just do not know better and they need to be taught, she emphasizes. She adds that there should be no compromise on discipline and those who do not comply should be subjected to the consequences. It is important to put punitive measures in place and make them clearly understood so that staff are aware that if you do not play by the rules, there are repercussions. Sometimes that calls for a heavy hand, the CG warns. Nonetheless, the external factors are more difficult to deal with. In RRA s experience, for example, there hasn t been a major tax paying culture in Rwanda so it has required a lot of hard work on the part of the tax administration to change this mindset and go a step further to help people appreciate the service. Ms. Baine adds, though, that one thing that RRA has done and which other managers should do to ensure excellent customer service is appreciate those who do well. It is important to reward those who do well because people will emulate those who are winners. RRA also rewards the taxpayers who do well and this contributes to changing the mindset towards taxation. A lot has been said in Rwanda to defend the poor state of customer service it is not in our culture, we are not exposed, businesses have very little competition. Ms. Baine discounts these as mere excuses. In my opinion I do not think poor customer service is a cultural issue because in a typical Rwandan household, when visitors come they are very well received. If you can receive guests very well at home, then why do you have an attitude at work? she wonders. Secondly, she adds, in the Rwandan culture, we are supposed to be very courteous to strangers, make them feel comfortable, help them as much as we can, that is part of our culture. In this case culture would dictate that we treat the people we serve at work and in our business with the greatest respect. In regard to exposure, Ms. Baine admits that people often hide their ignorance, poor self esteem or lack of confidence behind some very rude behavior and if they do not know better they may be rude and unpleasant while exposure helps people to learn, become confident and therefore behave appropriately. Being a prominent figure in a small place like Kigali, almost everybody knows who she is and often people will go an extra mile to ensure that she receives excellent service. However the CG has learned that whenever she receives poor service she should respond to it instead of just being frustrated. If someone treats me badly, I tell them and irrespective of their response, I feel I have done my duty. In many cases she will go ahead and notify the manager to make the necessary changes. Every manager wants his/her business to be offering the best service and even if they put up an act when we complain, they will deal with the complaint Ms. Baine asserts. She advises that all customers should adopt this response mechanism. We cannot complain enough, she says, if we accept poor service quietly, we will keep getting it. On the other hand, if we say no, we shall not accept to be treated like this, someone is going to change. It is important for us to set standards of the service we expect and will accept. If we don t, people take things for granted and poor service will continue. Lastly, the CG advises all managers and customers to appreciate good service as much as we complain about poor service. If an employee who is offering a good service is complimented for it, not only does this raise their morale and self esteem, but they also influence others and this will build a fortified culture of good customer service she concludes. 12 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

13 Superfect TheE-Class Coupé, It deserves a whole new language. If not now, When? Visit us today at Gikondo, Kigali B.P. 2983, Kigali, Rwanda Tel: , A.T.C - Rwanda s.a Auto Transport Company The SERVICEMAG June - August

14 THE VALUE OF COACHINGBy Kofi Hagan In today s business world, one overlooks customer care at one s own peril. Satisfied customers are the lifeblood of successful businesses. Therefore if you want your business to be successful, you do well to invest in customer care. As important as customers are to a business, employees cannot be overlooked and this category too requires an investment. Sound employee care is sound customer care. Twenty years ago, most people had not heard of Life Coaching or Business Coaching. Today the terrain is changing fast and coaching is being credited with extraordinary achievements of personal fulfilment, success and business transformation. The International Coaching Federation, the largest coaching alliance and quality control body describes coaches as: Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. (ICF website, 2006) Coaching blends business, psychology, sports and spirituality concepts. It is unique, however, in its ability to support clients to build their ideal life. Its origins enable coaches to work with clients on a variety of experiences and situations. A coach can be a cheerleader to a struggling or discouraged client, an advocate to a vulnerable staff, an accountability partner to a client who needs help to stick to his commitments and a truth teller to the client strangely gifted with misinterpretations of the times. Coaching Models Customer Care Of course, a coach knows the financial value of a client who has had a great experience. For most coaches though, the money comes second. They are by nature and training interested in the well being of their clients, whether they are individuals or businesses. Individuals, who experience this considerate handling and respect almost always show the same to others, be they customers or fellow employees. In addition to the modelling that so naturally takes place when a coach works with an employee of a business, coaching can focus on customer relations and care and consequently provide skills in this regard. In practice, during coaching, a client identifies goals for which he or she receives support to accomplish. Customer care may be one of them. Where this is the case, the client, by considering and responding to powerful questions from the coach, enters into a deep inner experience which may transform his perception of and attitude to the customer. In response, the latter makes changes in his or her own attitude with the possibility of becoming a lifetime buyer. Coaches believe that most of the solution being sought is resident in the client. In this regard, the coach s focus is on asking essential questions that help the one being coached to carry out an internal search and assemble the answers ready for review and application. In other words, the coach facilitates access to information or greater consciousness and in so doing helps the client to understand his life, circumstances, desires and behaviour better, and subsequently to decide what changes he would like to make. The above is a perfect example of the attitude business employees must have toward the customer. The customer is not only right, as the saying goes, but knows the characteristics of the service or product he is looking for. Your responsibility is to provide a genuine, timely and friendly facilitation that result in unqualified satisfaction and an indelible imprint of your business on his mind. Lastly, the coach helps his client to establish steps that will bring him results and consolidate his chances of success by helping his client to be accountable. The dramatic difference coaching makes in the lives of individuals and businesses has sparked the rapid growth of the industry. Not only does it have the potential to transform entire businesses, but also, it can provide awareness and skills that turn the first time customer into a lifetime buyer. 14 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

15 WHY YOUR ATTITUDE MATTERS By Denise Umunyana When it comes to customer service, attitude is everything. Skills are learned but no one can teach you how to be nice. A good attitude and a pleasant persona have got to be developed by an individual through his/her own free will. Unfortunately, bad attitudes spread like viruses. I can hardly complete a conversation with anyone without hearing a story about bad service, which usually stems from an employee s negative attitude. How can employees develop a positive attitude? I would say the place to start is in the heart - examine your motives. Ask yourself: What is the intended goal of your actions? What will I gain from having a customer pay for my attitude problems? What effect will my bad attitude and resultant actions have on the people I serve and work with? What kind of reaction do I expect? How else could I look at this situation? What can I learn here? How would I solve this situation if I were in the manager or in the customer s position? Managing character, temperament or people s attitude is just as critical and often more challenging than managing talent. When you think about it, a bad attitude shows up in negative behavior. Though it is easy to blame an employee for having a bad attitude towards customers and co-workers, we shouldn t understate some of the elements which cause such behavior. Does the employee have a clear job description? Has the employee undergone a proper induction process? Is there a clear line of communication between the management and the staff? Does the company provide sufficient and adequate working conditions for employees to perform to the best of their abilities? Change is another aspect that creates insecurity and often results in a poor attitude from employees. Randolph Harrison, Coopers & Lybrand s principal and national leader for organization effectiveness & development in Chicago says however, people do not have a negative reaction to change; they have a negative reaction to the punishing effect of change, which is uncertainty. The best tool to curb negativity and low morale is in-depth, straightforward communication. Employers need to be truthful about how changes will affect employees. When communicating with employees, they need to clearly define the areas where certainty exists and discuss the areas of uncertainty rather than brushing the issue under the carpet. In addition, there needs to be a functional recognition and reward system for high performing employees. If you are managing an employee with a bad attitude, concentrate on the specific causes of this behavior. Your role is to ensure that your employee feels that he/she is part and parcel of your organization. An employee has to feel emotionally connected to the institution he/she represents. As such, his/her loyalty and integrity will be reflected in the work place. As an employee, it is advisable that you select a job you think you will enjoy. Do not run for a position simply for the pay check. Your performance in the work place should yield to customer and employer s satisfaction. You should always know that, as an employee, you represent your entire institution. Consequently, your attitude will be a reflection of, not only what people think of you, but also their perception of your institution. Therefore, attitude does matter; and it may be as critical as natural intelligence. The SERVICEMAG June - August

16 SUCCESSFUL COMPANY INTERIORS: WHAT S THE SECRET? By Efua Hagan Office design speaks volumes and customers are bound to form impressions of your business based on it. These impressions will determine if they will use your services and return or go elsewhere. Successful company design will contribute to making your business lucrative by acting as a magnet that draws in an increased number of customers. So how do you get it right? P H O T O G R A P H Y G O O G L E I M A G E S Your company s exterior should reflect its interior Let s start with the very first impression. Successful office design ensures that the exterior is inviting and attractive because the outside of any company automatically communicates to customers what to expect on the inside. One evening a friend and I passed a well lit sign outside an office building. The light, however, exposed all the rust and dirt that had accumulated on the sign over time and we couldn t help but notice how dirty and unattractive it was. My friend remarked on how unwelcoming the sign was and confessed she wouldn t feel comfortable using that company s services. 16 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

17 A dirty and rusty sign simply won t speak well about any company s interior, and an unattractive sign will do a company more harm than good. Unfortunately this is a reality that many company owners neglect. Natural light is important Successful office design also takes into account the comfort of the employees. In addition to looking visually appealing to customers, it should provide a comfortable and practical working environment for company employees. P H O T O G R A P H Y G O O G L E I M A G E S Some time back I had a job, and the room I worked in was absolutely non- inspiring to say the least. The days seemed longer and I got home feeling drained. This was mainly due to the fact that there was not enough natural light coming into the building and the one bulb fixed in the ceiling had low voltage power so it didn t help the situation. Consequently my eyes suffered too because I was continuously straining them. Working in such an office environment can make dealing with customers a challenge on its own. There is a sense of wellbeing, freshness and newness of energy that comes with natural light, and when an office lacks it, this is bound to have an emotional and physical toll on the service providers working in it. This can affect the quality of service they offer. Indoor plants improve customer service indirectly Many people spend a lot of time indoors during working hours. For this reason, they encounter symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, sore eyes, and loss or lack of concentration from harmful pollutants that get trapped inside buildings. The simple addition of interior plants is a natural way to help remove these pollutants significantly. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen they have been proven to filter and purify the air leading to a significant reduction of symptoms caused by polluted air. Do not hesitate to elevate the level of freshness in your office by incorporating indoor plants. The increased oxygen will refresh both the air and the employees and increase concentration and productivity and consequently have an impact on the quality of customer care. In addition, indoor plants are decorative and brighten up the office. Use colour to distinguish your company from others Colour can be used to increase your employees working energy, to fuel creativity, or to create a warm atmosphere that is welcoming to clients. The colour you choose to use in your company can make a difference to the success of the business. Colour has the ability to make your business stand out distinctively and call out to customers. The beautiful thing about colour is its limitless options and design possibilities. Moreover, colour is linked to psychology because of the various moods, feelings and emotions different colours elicit from us which affect the way we behave. Good company design is mindful of the effect colour has on its employees and clients, and as such uses colours that will only trigger appropriate emotions that will benefit the business. Many companies prefer to leave their walls blank; however there is no harm in adding a little diversity with a fresh coat of unique paint colour. Colors such as red, yellow and orange are known as warm colors. They are believed to evoke feelings of warmth and comfort while blue, purple and green are known as cool colours and often create a calm atmosphere. A great image painted directly onto the wall along a hallway, or waiting area not only changes the environment, but transforms the outlook and inspiration for the company. This technique is particularly successful in spas, restaurants, or businesses which offer services in the area of creativity. It is amazing the little details customers notice; a good office design can have a positive impact on customers directly or indirectly. A bad design will not appeal to prospective clients and it has the potential to affect employees negatively, and this will affect their level of enthusiasm when dealing with customers. Make sure your business premises are attractive and inspiring both outside and inside and this will work well for both employees and customers. Quote It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages. SAM WALTON The SERVICEMAG June - August

18 Service Delivery within Financial Institutions Governor, Francois Kanimba, National Bank of Rwanda Time and again H.E President Paul Kagame has emphasized the need for all Rwandans to improve the way we conduct business urging Rwandans to avoid accepting a culture of mediocrity. My assessment of the past couple of months indicates a great improvement in the way our business community both public and private conduct business. RDB and the Private Sector Federation have made a commendable effort also. Part of our mandate as the Central bank is to encourage and maintain stable and competitive financial systems in the country; supervise and regulate activities of banks and other financial institutions. The current trend in Rwanda s banking sector and other financial institutions indicates a very dynamic industry. This is a healthy situation for the country s economic growth but also very challenging for poorly performing financial institutions which risk losing clients to more aggressive, creative and innovative institutions that have joined the industry. Research has shown that some of the causes of the poor service delivery are our conventional ways of doing business. We tend NOT to have Urgency in our execution of duties. And this thinking is taken to our work places and affects our output. These customary methods of working have affected the service delivery that we all see in our financial institutions around the country. Disgruntled clients will always look for alternatives when a given financial institution is not offering the expected standards the client keeps moving from one bank to another in search for better services. If this happens to an investor, he may choose to leave the country for another country; which to us is a big loss and may have an impact on the country s economic growth. Research carried out by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) in July 2009 indicates that customer service in Rwanda is worse in comparison with countries in the region. The IPAR research highlights that using the satisfaction profit chain approach, if customer service were to improve significantly, it could increase the Rwanda s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as much as 40 million dollars a year by I want to equally believe that the opposite could be true. Yet this is something that is within our efforts to change. Customer improvement does not require a lot of our institutional budgets; it just requires change of mindset change of attitude. From my interaction with varied personalities, some have indicated that financial institutions just like other sectors do not train their staff in areas that require specialization. In this era of the computer age, there are everchanging computer applications and new innovations applicable to all sectors including: finance, banking, health, customer care, among others. It is the onus of innovative institutions including financial or otherwise therefore to keep abreast with current global changes and train their staff accordingly. Failure to do this has kept our institutions operating mechanically which frustrates their clients. Connected to the above, is the issue of expansion and renovations of bank premises. Many bank managers have indicated that clients complain of poor service delivery associated with banks trying to renovate and expand their premises which in effect reduces their working areas. This will in many ways impact on the service delivery. However, this should not be viewed as a challenge but rather a remedy because when banks expand their areas of operation, they are most likely to offer better services. Research conducted by FinScope Rwanda in 2008, indicates that 21% of our population have access to formal 18 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

19 This is the kind of spirit that is needed to revamp the present poor customer care in the country. banking services, 26% have access to other informal financial services while 52% are excluded from financial services. Only 21% of Kigali City dwellers (the capital) are more likely to be banked and formally served. Overall, 14% of adult Rwandan population is banked. This is a low percentage compared to countries in the region like South Africa with 60% formally banked and only 25% financially excluded; while Botswana 44% and 45% formally banked and financially excluded respectively. This simply indicates that our banking and financial institutions still need to double their efforts in bringing services closer to people. Related to the challenge of staff training and lack of technical personnel is intermittent network and power supply. Banks and financial institutions may be limited to access clients accounts as a result of loss of connection from broadband and bandwidth providers which result in poor service delivery to clients. Sometimes this is associated with lack of skilled personnel to manage the new infrastructure. Allow me to point out that it is a national agenda that these challenges are quickly corrected. While the recent World Bank/ IFC Doing Business Report ranked Rwanda among the highly reforming countries in the way they conduct business, we should not become complacent but rather find more innovative ways of improving our service delivery. The government through the Ministry of Public Service has introduced long working hours from 40 to 45 hours a week. Some institutions have gone beyond the prescribed hours all in an effort to serve their customers better. Financial institutions have started expanding and opening more branches within Kigali and upcountry. These will not only reduce the risks associated with rural people transporting bulk money to Kigali but will also address the challenge of access. And in an effort to deliver better services to its customers, financial institutions have undertaken the following measures: dynamic extension of branch network, introducing Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and in-house tellers; hiring specialized staff and introducing customer care units; customer care training for all staff from management to supporting personnel; strong adherence by banks to the National Payment System; without forgetting the extension of working time. Banks are working till late and some over the weekends. A lot could be said about this subject of Service delivery and doing business in the country but I must emphasize again that customer care will improve if we change our attitude and mindset. The SERVICEMAG June - August

20 VOTED BANK OF THE YEAR 2009 Kudos To Fina Bank Remera Branch! A.K Otiti, Kigali. I am learning to ask to see the manager when I receive bad service but showing gratitude for good service comes easily for me. Bringing poor service to the knowledge of management and appreciating good service will go a long way in changing the service culture. I think the service at FINA Bank Remera is excellent. The tellers are always so calm, pleasant and cordial to customers. At first I thought it was just a good day for me and that it was one person doing well. The next time I went to another counter and received the same treatment. Then I found I would rather go to Remera than FINA Bank main branch. The next time I decided to sit and watch if other customers were being so graciously served and it was so gratifying to see those tellers give a consistent service. Please pay us a visit at Union Trade Center Number 2.8 For reservations call: or Mme Claire Nkulikiyimfura And what is more, FINA Remera has bank pens on the counters. I have never understood why customers cannot carry their own pens to the bank a pen costs only a few coins and when you know you will need one carry one for goodness sake. People are always borrowing pens in the bank and some even hold on to it and suck at it when they are done. Arrrrgggggh! Anyway that is not necessary in FINA Remera since the bank takes care of such customers. Keep it up FINA Remera and show your Main Branch counterparts how it is done. Gira Ubupfura 20 The SERVICEMAG June - August 2010

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