Poor service and customer care plague hotel industry

Thursday August 11 2022

Service sector has recovered from challenges caused by Covid-19 to boos growth of GDP. PHOTO | FILE

By Ange Iliza

As Rwanda positions itself as East Africa’s conference hub, poor service delivery and customer care still plague the sector.

Services in restaurants and hotels in Kigali have often been criticized to be slow and unprofessional in some cases. Prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm)that brought together world leaders in Kigali for a week, the City of Kigali and Rwanda Development Board made efforts to improve services, but Kigali residents say the changes were only for that week.

A month after (Chogm), consumers of some hospitality services in Kigali are disappointed that efforts to improve customer care and quality service provision ended with the high level meeting. They noted that institutions in charge are not seeking lasting solutions.

Residents who spoke to Rwanda Today said services in some facilities were at their best during CHOGM. Restaurant orders were faster, and workers were more conscious of foreigners, and different cultures and languages. Consumers outside Kigali, however, said CHOGM was only heard in the news.

“The service providers' attitude changed before and during CHOGM. Especially towards foreigners. The attitude was better during that time. It was surprising because we have become comfortable with poor service and it should change,” said Phiona Uwase, a university student living in Kigali.

Civid-19 challenges


The service sector has grown to become the biggest contributor to gross domestic product despite challenges posed by Covid-19. According to the National Institute of Statistics, the sector contributed 48 percent to the GDP from 10.8 percent in 2021.

For the past decade, at least three countrywide campaigns to improve customer care services have been launched. Analysts say such events and measures have become cliché because they are implemented in an ad hoc manner.

In 2017, RDB launched ‘Nk’ uwikorera’ campaign that aimed to improve citizen-centered service delivery in private and public institutions. It followed ‘Na Yombi’ which was launched five years before and ‘Gira Ubupfura’ which came before that. All the campaigns would go on for some years aiming at improving service delivery.

Have the campaigns failed? Rwanda Today’s efforts to get answers from RDB proved futile by press time but analysts say the campaigns need to be reframed.

“I would not say the campaigns have failed but I would say they started from the wrong footing. Customer care in the hospitality industry is equally important as the products offered. These campaigns often focus on service providers, but they should equally involve receivers, so they know what to expect in terms of service quality.

If the campaigns are one-sided, the effect will be little,” said Dr. Carmen Nibigira, a Tourism and Conservation expert. In May, Rwanda Development Board assessed 50 hotels and restaurants in Kigali. The results showed lack of skills and training among service providers that led to breach of ethics. At the time, the board also awarded best-performing hotels and “downgraded” entities that don’t live up to their star rating.