Why Customer Service is So Important to Asili
From the very beginning, Asili has been about Congolese communities. About families, mothers, and children. About serving their needs and ensuring that they have access to best of class businesses, right in their own backyards. And customer service – so often taken for granted in our own contexts – is a huge part of that.
The idea of customer service, of treating your customers with respect, dignity, and friendliness, is a core tenant of Asili’s brand promise. On a human level, especially for those receiving healthcare services, the importance of being kind, welcoming, and understanding can be the bright spot in someone’s day – it can make whatever they’re going through just a little bit better. It’s simply the right – the human – thing to do. But on a business level, it’s just as important. Customers who are treated well will come back. They’ll tell their friends. They’ll be loyal to your brand. They’ll make your business work.
Yet despite the proven benefits of customer service to business, it’s not something that people in Eastern Congo experience often. That’s because, especially in NGO settings, people aren’t really considered customers or clients. Since services are provided for free, there hasn’t been a need to put the customer first – their existence doesn’t depend on what customers think, their experience, or whether their service is worthy of payment. But ours does.
That’s why we’ve put such a fine point on making the customer experience at Asili clinics and water points an incredible one for everyone who visits. We believe that everyone deserves respect and care, and that people will recognize and value that aspect of Asili’s services. And our efforts aren’t going unnoticed. In fact, it’s one of the first things that patients remark on when asked about their experience at the clinic.
Francis is one of those patients. He and his family live about 200 meters from the clinic in Karambi, his wooden house surrounded by clucking chickens, neatly arranged rows of clothes drying in the sun. Francis is a lumberjack by trade, which has allowed his family some means by which to get by. But several months ago, Francis fell ill. His right side, which he uses for chopping wood, was suddenly immovable. He felt sluggish and weak. So he began searching all over the region, looking for treatment, but had no success. Nothing any clinic recommended seemed to be working. So when a friend suggested he visit the nearby Asili clinic, he decided to give it a try.
What he found there astonished him. Upon entering the clinic, Francis thought to himself, “Extraordinaire!” (“This is extraordinary!”). He immediately noticed the cleanliness of the clinic – the white walls, the neatly dressed staff, the clean floors. And, what was even more remarkable was how he was treated.
“The nurse greeted me and I was amazed that she gave me slippers to wear,” he said. “Then they asked me to wash using the sink in the clinic. They put all my information into the computer before the consultation. The nurse was so friendly and kind. Right away, I started feeling better just by being there.” And soon after the treatment, Francis reports that he began to recover. “As soon as I took my first medication, I woke up the next day and I could move normally again. That was a few months ago and I’m still feeling great – I could go back to work.”
Having a life-changing experience at an Asili clinic made Francis want to convince others to go, too. His good friend Miti lives nearby, and when Miti’s son fell ill Francis encouraged him to visit Asili. And as Francis told his story, Miti was eager to chime in, too.
“I was hesitant,” says Miti, “because I was originally intending to bring my son to the hospital, he was so sick. But since I live so close to Asili, I thought I’d try it.” At first, Miti and his son were unsure of what they found there. “I didn’t understand why they gave us slippers and had us wash,” he says. “But then I understood. We felt so clean. The staff were so polite. They welcomed us warmly and gave a very clear explanation of the pricing and what would happen next. We felt more and more at ease. And when we were in the consultation, the nurse was very gentle, not like how it is at other clinics.”
And again, Miti’s son was feeling better in no time. “I was amazed – he had malaria. I was not expecting that. But as soon as he took the malaria medication, he began to feel better again. I had been so worried because my son is in high school and he had to drop out for a while because of his illness. But after a visit to the clinic, he’s back in school. He’ll graduate from high school.”
When asked whether the pricing was an issue for their family, Miti shrugs. “Actually, when everything was done, the entire cost for the consultation and the medications were about the same as if I had traveled somewhere further with him to receive treatment. I was worried at first because I thought perhaps the pricing would change depending on who you are and where you come from. But no, not with Asili.”
Francis and Miti have benefitted enormously by not only having quality, world-class health services at their fingertips, but by having the experience of being treated incredibly well by their healthcare professionals. They’ve experienced kindness in a place they never expected to – that alone is worthy of our efforts. But they’ll also continue to tell their friends and to sing Asili’s praises because of the amazing customer service they experienced with us. Customer service means treating people with dignity, with the level of kindness that every person deserves. And – it’s simply good business.