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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What explains our poor customer care?


I have always assumed that the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) would result into drastic improvements in service delivery. However, trends among service oriented firms both in the private and public sector, are worrying.
The growing queues in banks despite reports of increased ATM coverage across the country, inaccessible customer care or call centre service numbers by telecom companies, ministries, and institutional websites that are not regularly updated with client focused information, among others, necessitate an examination of the quality of customer care amidst advances in ICT.
Reflecting on my experience as a graduate trainee at the British Council Information Centre, I cannot desist from asking “What happened to customer care?”
At the British Council, we were cognisant of the fact that excellent customer care service is all about bringing customers back and sending them away happy - happy enough to pass positive feedback about our services. Analysing clients’ feedback constituted part of our breakfast menu and was a key component of our continuous improvement strategy. Not only did we emphasise cultivating an empowered client base that knew their rights and obligations, but we also strived to maintain our shared values and high service standards.
The website was always updated; phone calls and e-mails were promptly responded to. It was a ‘flat organisation’, in which anyone could attend to a telephone call (within three rings), or a physical inquiry and referred the client to the best placed person to handle the matter in case one was not in position to do so. Through regular stakeholder engagements such as breakfast meetings, management forum gatherings, and professional development courses and trainings, among others, we tapped into stakeholder concerns and identified creative avenues for improving our service delivery.
Thus, through shared values and standards, we shaped our attitudes and leveraged technology to deliver quality services to our clients. Experiences like calling 222 that is never accessible, waiting for six months to receive an ATM card without progress updates, standing in a queue at the bank where the average time for a single transaction is between 15 and 30 minutes, searching in vain a ministry/agency website for the latest statistics on people accessing ARVs in Uganda, make me wonder whether such institutions value their clients at all.
Do these organisations have any service delivery standards or do they just take their clients for granted? Why do telecoms and banks with such reputations of poor service delivery continue to promote and advertise their products and services yet they cannot satisfy their current clientele? Do they still attach value to the notion of customer care?
As Uganda prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence, it is important that firms and institutions prioritise customer care and reflect on the quality of their services. Instead of exploiting consumer ignorance, they should consider the benefits of having an informed and empowered clientele. Consumer protection agencies in conjunction with service oriented firms should sensitise the public about their rights and obligations.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What excludes you from the world's wealth and wisdom?

Web version: http://www.ifla.org/en/news/world-book-and-copyright-day


Find the world's wealth and wisdom through books

To promote books, reading, and the stimulation of creativity through copyright - this is why we celebrate World Book and Copyright Day today and every year on 23 April. In her video message, IFLA President Ingrid Parent addressed the importance of books as irreplaceable sources of knowledge, ideas and innovation. "In books we find the wealth and wisdom of the world", Parent said. Parent also remembered all people who cannot read, "be it through illiteracy, through censorship or through language barriers. When people have no access to books and information, they are excluded from the world's wealth and wisdom."

Being the primary cultural and scientific institutions for providing information as a public good, libraries play a crucial role to build bridges to books and information by helping people to learn new skills, to discover history and culture or to access remote research findings.

IFLA and its members in more than 150 countries worldwide believe that people, communities and organisations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being.

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature, since 23 April 1616 was the date of death of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Initiated in 1995 by UNESCO, this date pays a worldwide tribute to books and their authors, and encourages everyone to discover the pleasure of reading and to gain a renewed respect for the extraordinary contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

The year 2012 also marks the 80th anniversary of the Index Translationum. This international bibliography of translation provides a unique tool for the monitoring of translation flows in the world.  Originally created in 1932, it is the oldest program of UNESCO.

See also: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-book-and-copyright-day-2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trust and obey ---2012 and its endless opportunities

At the end of 2011 and towards the mid January 2012, a friend had the following words to say to me; "David all you need to do is just trust and obey". "Trust and Obey" happens to be a title to one of my favourite hymns. Composed by John H. Sammis, its lyrics are available at http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/582 whereas the story behind the hymn is available at http://www.faithclipart.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/trust-and-obey-the-song-and-the-story.html

Inspired by Confucius who asserts that "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest", I examined how the events that have unfolded in my life over the past few months, have enhanced my trust and obedience. One absolute revelation for sure is that there is nothing more gratifying than trusting and obeying God. In case you have read up to this point, let me share with you some of my reflections regarding the ingredients for trusting and obeying God.

1. Faith: Imagine walking up to a person, introducing yourself and requesting for guidance and mentroship. Both of you have never met before but this person turns out to be among the kindest people you have ever come across in your life! Doesn't this ring a bell towards the fact that having faith every waking day of our lives inspires us on, no matter the circumstances? Doesn't it encourage us to believe that God is out there watching over us and has faith in our potential to make a positive contribution towards turning the world into a better place? Faith increases our confidence, trust, compels us to obey, and enhances our optimism and calmness.The more your faith, the higher the confidence and trust in yourself and in others.When we portray the faith in us, we stand better chances of being identified by God and mankind to contribute towards doing God's will.

2. Gratitude: Being grateful for whatever small and big, bad and good, positive and negative things in our lives enhances our trust and obedience. Many times our lives are compounded by uncertainties yet if we trust, obey and have faith, all we do is receive! Surprisingly though,upon receiving even those things we doubted would come our away, a few of us remember to express gratitude! Recently while venturing into my passion for inspiring and motivating people, I came into contact with a group of dynamic younger people. A reflection of the events during and after the engagement, all I had to do was to say thank you. It occurred to me that whereas it would be a good platform to nurture the dream, incompatibility would be an issue based on our value systems! Nonetheless, I said thank you for the opportunity. Let us work towards including "thank you" into our vocabulary. Bad and negative things bring with them valuable lessons in our lives whereas the good things contribute towards making us happier and healthier.

3. Integrity- "the bridge between ones thoughts and actions". One of my favourite authors John C Maxwell says that when one has integrity, his/her words match up. He further asserts that “Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.” You and I have at one point in time concluded about some people based on what we see or think about their images. Like wise we have been victims of the same judgments. Postured/acted integrity is less sustainable. However when we are trustworthy and obedient, our integrity will unquestionably be manifested in our thoughts,words and actions.The art of being consistent i.e "I am who i am, no matter where i am or who i am with" greatly enhances our trust and obedience before God and mankind and summarizes the meaning of integrity-"the state of being complete, unified".

As we complete the first quarter of 2012, it is evident that there are plenty of opportunities over the remaining three quarters. Trust and obedience in God with all the ingredients discussed above are required of all those desiring to succeed. Constant reflection on what we are doing, why we are doing it, how and when we are doing it is necessary. I will end with two small quotes one by Tony Robbins and another that I first heard while attending a colleagues' graduation party back in 2004 somewhere in Rakai by Thomas Fuller.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean. –
Tony Robbins

"Education begins a gentleman, conversation completes him" Thomas Fuller


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

OVER THE TOP

While doing a soul searching exercise recently, I went over Zig Ziglar's "Over the Top" audio recording. It is an excellent motivational piece that inspires one to reflect deeply and focus better.

These wonderful motivational quotes are priceless that I listened to just made me believe that i am indeed headed to the top!

"It is not the colour of your skin nor the place of your birth but it is the size of your hope that is going to determine where you are going to go in your life" (John Johnson)

"If there is hope in the future, there's power in the present" John Maxwell

Here are the prerequisites for being over the top:

The Top (Adopted from a post by Tom Ziglar)

From Zig Ziglar’s book, Over the Top

You are at the top when…

You clearly understand that failure is an event, not a person; that yesterday ended last night, and today is your brand-new day.

You have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and optimistic about your future.

You know that success (a win) doesn’t make you, and failure (a loss) doesn’t break you.

You are filled with faith, hope, and love; and live without anger, greed, guilt, envy, or thoughts of revenge.

You are mature enough to delay gratification and shift your focus from your rights to your responsibilities.

You know that failure to stand for what is morally right is the prelude to being the victim of what is criminally wrong.

You are secure in who you, so you are at peace with God and in fellowship with man.

You have made friends of adversaries, and have gained the love and respect of those who know you best.

You understand that others can give you pleasure, but genuine happiness comes when you do things for others.

You are pleasant to the grouch, courteous to the rude, and generous to the needy.

You love the unlovable, give hope to the hopeless, friendship to the friendless, and encouragement to the discouraged.

You can look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.

You know that “he who would be greatest among you must become the servant of all.”

You recognize, confess, develop, and use your God-given physical, mental, and spiritual abilities to the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.

You stand in front of the Creator of the universe, and He says to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO POLICY AND ACTION: THE SKILLS YOU NEED

Scientific research plays a great role in influencing policy translation into action and programmes. Courtesy of the Evidence for Action Communication and Policy Workshop that I have been attending from Monday 29th November 2010 to Friday 3rd December 2010, I have acquired important skills that are going to impact my work as a Communication/Public Relations Officer.

I have learnt how to identify desired changes, exchanged on how policy changes happen in partner countries including Malawi Zambia and the UK. I have also learnt how to deal with varying audiences. The integration of the 4C’s of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) i.e. (Consumer, Cost, Convenience, Communication channel) into public health is such a wonderful initiative that is going to have a positive impact on the profession.

The various communication tools learned under the media advocacy component of the workshop have been so useful and will support my engagements with policy makers. The power of story telling, making compelling presentations and lobbying are indeed very vital tools. With the advent of social media, the workshop has empowered me with a better understanding of web 2.0 components including facebook, blogs, podcasts and how best these can be used to influence policy.
Benchmarking best practices in communication for policy change and constantly monitoring and evaluating communication and advocacy are key learning points that I am going to constantly reflect upon and implement. Thanks to the great team of facilitators from the Evidence for Action Research Consortium. www.evidence4action.org and Jayne Obeng from International HIV/AIDS Alliance www.aidsalliance.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It is hightime I gave my blog a new look!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It Helps to Read Books

It Helps to Read Books - By David Roger Walugembe

Reading culture refers to a way of life characterized by the habit of reading intensely and extensively. Poor reading culture is one of the major impediments to social and economic development in most low developed countries like Uganda. Recent articles have highlighted several causes of the poor reading culture in Uganda. In my undergraduate dissertation entitled “Contribution of NGOs in the promotion of the reading culture in Uganda: case study of EUPEK Project,” I concentrated on highlighting the positive energies invested by NGOs to combat the problem of poor reading culture in Uganda. I can argue that the biggest challenge to the promotion of the reading culture in Uganda is the lack of awareness and appreciation of the importance of reading.

Reading advocates are always put to task by pupils, students, teachers and parents about the connection between reading materials like newspapers, books magazines, novels etc to academic performance, financial gains etc! Can you imagine such mindsets? Reading is not only important for education and personal growth but it is a factor for economic and social development. When people read, they are able to visit other lands, planets and get to meet real and imaginary people of the past and present.

According to Dr. Abidi, “reading a number of books enhances ones language ability and consequently develops the power of expression of the reader”. He further asserts that reading books imparts new ideas, new styles and new flights of imagination to the readers. The more one reads, the more they get inspired to write their book thereby contributing to the literacy development of the nation.

The World Book Encyclopedia (Q-R, Vol.6) reiterates the importance of reading in four ways namely; functional literacy, workplace literacy, personal information and recreation. Functional literacy refers to the ability to perform useful activities like reading road signs, maps, labels on medicine bottles and directions for operating new appliances (like mobile phones). Functional literacy is important at all levels and remains useful to all people even after completing school. Workplace literacy refers to the person’s ability to read and its influence on job success. Promotions in most cases call for further training which equips the staff with particular reading and interpretation skills that are necessary for doing the job.

Besides reading in the classroom and on the job, most people read books, magazines and other materials for personal information and recreation. The best way to learn more about ones special interests such as sports, current events, science, fashion, ICT, etc would be through reading. Millions of people read novels, adventure stories, biographies and books for fun. Recreational reading helps us to understand others, takes the readers on journeys to unknown parts of the world and enables them to share experiences of people throughout history. Let us be keen on monitoring and evaluating the shift in trends of our reading culture. Reading a book per month or a chapter a day and capturing the impact makes a difference. What we focus on becomes our reality. Focusing efforts on improving our reading culture will increase the appreciation and awareness about the importance of reading.

As Uganda celebrates the 16th edition of the Annual National Book Week Festival, organized by National Book Trust of Uganda, let us join efforts to create and promote awareness about the importance of reading especially amongst children who are in their formative stages. Share inspirational stories of how reading has changed lives for the better, what inspires people to read, how to read and encourage more people to read at least an advert on the bill board! “A reading nation is a winning nation.”

The Writer is an Information Scientist with the Ministry of Public Service - davyluvother@yahoo.com -0712 311789