Excellent customer service: the case of Face Technologies in Uganda

The last time (on 30th June 2020 to be exact), I went to Face Technologies to process my driving permit.  I arrived at 9:20

The last time (on 30th June 2020 to be exact), I went to Face Technologies to process my driving permit.  I arrived at 9:20 a.m., and found gates closed, as people were already so many, and they could not allow any more inside.  On that day, I was stopped at the entrance and advised to return the following day before 8:00 a.m. I wouldn’t say I liked the experience and even wrote about it here.

I did not return to the place the following day, as had been advised.

However, today, 24th July 2020, I made the trip again.

I set off at 6 a.m. Thanks to a clear road, I arrived at the Face Technologies offices at Kyambogo. By 6:30, a.m., a line had already formed. About 30 people were already in front of me.

I had planned for a lousy long day and moved with headphones. I started listening to the book, “The Age of Napoleon” by Will Durant and Ariel Durant, and et al. This is a 43 hours and 59 minutes book, about the European Civilization by great historians Will and Ariel Durant. The Age of Napoleon book on my Audible is the 11th and final volume of Europe’s story of civilization. In this political season in Uganda, I recommend you find time to read this book for more exceptional perspectives about democracy and strategy. I expected to be at Face Technologies for a minimum of five hours. Most of the time, I listen to audiobooks during my runs. But recently, I got an accident riding a bike, and my knee muscles have been lazy. What a better way to make progress on audiobooks, I thought to myself.

To my surprise, at about 6:40 a.m., gates opened, and the security guard started letting us in.  If you last renewed your driving permit in 2017, you would find a changed Face Technologies. The company’s compound once used as the parking area was cleared and is now waiting for the area, with tents and chairs neatly arranged. On entering, you sit in the tents, in the order of your arrival.

Once you go past the gate, the process is faster.

After about 13 minutes, people in the row in which I am seated join the COVID-19 sanitization queue. From there, each person moves to different counters. It is about 6:53 a.m., and the staff are already behind the counters and ready to serve. At 7:00 a.m. sharp, I am next and enter. I hand over my new driving permit application papers. After confirmation, I place and press all my fingers for each hand on the scanner, starting with the left hand, followed by the right, then both thumbs together. Then my passport photo is taken instantly. Within just 3 minutes, the process is complete, and I proceed to the validation counter. I find no queue, and immediately my details are validated. I move to the cashier window and pay for the driving permit processing fee. I pay Ugx. 80,000.  The cashier prints something, titled “Temporary Driving Permit,” which I notice has a one-month validity. I proceed to wait outside for my driving permit.

As I sit in the waiting area, I notice a display information screen like the ones you see at airports. It has big words on top “COLLECT YOUR DRIVING PERMIT HERE.”  Some words like “Holder’s Name,” “Other Names” Are displayed on the screen in small print. The fact that I am seated on about row four furthest from the screen and being able to read the words makes me feel good with my sight.

At about 7:40 a.m., I read my name displayed on the screen. I move to the counter and present the Temporary Driving Permit, which they exchanged for my “original” new 3-Years Valid Driving Permit, upon signing on the temporary one.

The process ends, and I move out, smiling.

The funny thing is I did not have time to listen to my book. The process was so swift and fast.

Lessons learned:

  1. Process analysis and re-engineering save time and money. When I was last at the Face Technologies (FT), the process was long, with few counters and poorly placed making traffic collide. Now the people flow, and placement of service points is so organized that you move from one counter to the next. You only meet oncoming traffic when exiting to the waiting area where the final passports are collected. All banks and other organizations could borrow a leaf
  2. No agents. Only the owner of the driving permit must collect it. It does not matter who you are. If you want to drive, you must go and process your license. The process helps eliminate forgeries and duplications and fraud. No one can pick a driving permit on another person’s behalf. By making instant processing of the driving permit, it promotes the overall security of the system.
  3. Few people allowed per day. Only about 700 people are allowed per day, and the gate closes. That way, staff are not overwhelmed with the workload.

As a consultant, every time I experience some excellent service, I explore the story behind it. And I tried to ask one of the staff about the process and learned that FT is a South African based company, and they mean business.

I wish to extend my thanks to the team at Face Technologies. Thanks for the great work. There are indeed few places where a Ugandan can go and complete a transaction in just 1 hour. Even the banks that claim to offer premium banking have not yet reached such a level.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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