SoL Administrative Staff Trained In Customer Care

In a bid to improve customer care in the School of Law, the office of the Principal conducted a training on customer care targeting the secretaries and other administrative staff.

The training was a result of a training needs assessment where a number of issues concerning the level of satisfaction of the services received was on the whole not satisfactory with only one out of the sample of ten saying they were happy with the services they get from key offices in their units namely the office of the registrar and the accountant. It also gathered information from the administrative staff on the issues that affect them as they go about their day to day services in the University.

The Principal School of Law Dr. Christopher Mbazira while addressing the participants said his office had taken note of a number of issues that were affecting the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery among staff. He highlighted some of them to include lack of training opportunities,   poor interpersonal relations between staff, the feeling that some of the staff were not appreciated among others. He said the training was aimed at addressing some of the problems. 

Mr. Khamis Musanje from the school of Psychology while facilitating the training said customer care begins with one self and that it is about managing relations and communication. He urged the staff to appreciate their work despite all the challenges that come along as they work. He urged them to avoid what he called displaced aggression where they transfer their anger from interferences and distractions to others for instance students and parents. He urged them to understand the clients they serve especially thestudents whom he said were the highest in rank and needed to be handled very well.

Mr. Musanje reminded the participantsespecially the Secretaries that they were the face of the School of Law and the University on the whole and that although at times they worked in stressful circumstances, they were expected to develop coping mechanisms in order to serve the clients well.

He said while conducting a training needs assessment, a number of issues were raised by concerning the level of satisfaction of the services rendered, which unfortunately ranked very low.The trainer reminded the staff that customer care begins with oneself before it can be extended to others and that the one’s presentation is important as a point of first contact and reminded them that whatever one does is done in the name of the institution.

Mr. Khamis, while  responding to the complaint of lack of appreciation by the bosses that was raised as one of the issues that lowers the morale of the staff said that it was their duty to work whether appreciated or not . “It’s your job even when not recognized. Being good and receptive is part of the job and the reward is in the salary”, he emphasized. 

He reminded them that it was a privilege for them to be employees of Makerere University and the Government of Uganda  and that it was important  for them to keep to the promises they made as they assumed the respective offices.  He cautioned that although there were few incidences of being expelled from civil service, the level of service one offers has a bearing on one’s life in and out of service.  He however advised that it was within their means to transform the bad experiences as observed from other workplaces and improve on the way they work as ambassadors of the University.  “We experience so many bad things creating negative emotions. It is better to own them or to put them aside and do your job: he advised.  He said the difficult clients they serve are the reasons why they are employed, adding that a negative attitude equally affects them.

On the issue of complaints by staff, Mr. Musanje said complaining does not solve problems. He cautioned them to ask themselves as to what each person has done individually before making any complaints adding that everyone is important for the organization.

While emphasizing the importance of communication in customer care, the trainer reminded the staff of the level of their interaction with clients putting the students at 60%, fellow staff at 30% and other stakeholders at 10%. He however noted that the best customer care was being given to fellow staff and the least to students which put the rating of customer care to the lowest. He reminded them of the existing policies and warned that even in the effort to offer the best customer care, organizational policies and guidelines be adhered to.

While citing the example of exemplary service given by some specific staff in the University, Mr. Khamisiadvised the administrative staff  to avoid using judgmental words, leaving people on hold for long, acting like they do not care, or transferring aggression and acting as though they were too busy while attending to clients.The participants on their part appreciated the training, noting that it was long overdue and called upon the office of the Principal to continue with such interactions and exposures in seminars and regular meetings.  They raised other pertinent concerns affecting their services that included lack of training opportunities, lack of petty cash at units, rare interactions with the office of the Principal, lack of departmental meetings,  and the distant relations between academic and administrative staff.