By: Sandra Idossou
“As much as I like the progress Rwanda is making, there is one thing I really dislike. Why can’t government and private sector officials respond to emails? This problem is a nightmare.
“We often discuss issues affecting development in African countries, but Rwanda is an example on many aspects, except on this particular issue which is also affecting productivity. I cannot understand it, especially when top officials I hold in high esteem, never respond to mails. It is like they do you a favour in acknowledging emails. I am writing this to you Sandra because they need to be told the truth. Not acknowledging messages is simply unprofessional and unacceptable. They keep telling the whole world how efficient they are, but fail to apply the simplest action needed to offer good customer service,” argued a complainant in a message I received recently.
The writer is a dynamic person, who travels around the world frequently to promote Africa. Though we do not live in the same country, our frequent discussions relate to everything that can positively brand Africa. We often decry the lack positive stories in the international media and have made it a point to use every single forum we have to talk about some of the positive things happening on the continent. I guess it is for all these reasons that I could not dismiss this message.
I should maybe start by asking readers what your take is on the above statement. I guess we all, in one way or the other, are concerned by this issue because many people today basically do their work through emails. I cannot remember the last time I got a posted letter from a client.
If you have ever dealt with government officials or top CEOs in the private sector in Rwanda, you have probably also gone through that moment you ask yourself what is the missing link to reach efficiency in the way service is delivered in Rwanda.
For a visible improved service culture in Rwanda, it is paramount to lay down the fact that it all starts from the top. If managers are not customer friendly, there is no way their team members will offer good service.
In my daily activities, I spend more time reminding people that I am still waiting for their responses. The trend is to consider that the receiver is probably busy, but truth be told, we are all busy in our work and not responding to professional mails is a simple lack of courtesy.
Not responding shows you are rude and need basics in business etiquette. Period. There is no excuse whatsoever. Even if sometimes you do not have straight away the answer to the email, courtesy business etiquette will require that you email back the sender giving him a timeframe where you can give an accurate response. Otherwise, the sender is left wondering if you actually received his mail.
The rule in a business relationship is to respond or acknowledge emails not later than 48 hours after receiving them. Though most of us are saturated with tonnes of emails on a daily basis, it is also true that some basic etiquette rules, such as “don’t reply-all” needs to be improved on. For emails senders, it is also good to keep a precise subject line. Make sure your messages are short and clear. Effective emails in the workplace should have just a few short paragraphs or a bulleted list.
Avoid poor grammar and go straight to the point. Proof read before hitting the send button. Just like having dining etiquette, email etiquette in the working environment is critical and gives either a positive of negative reputation of yourself or your institution…and in the case above, even of your country. Key take-home point, reply and acknowledge emails…no matter what. It is as simple as that.