While we may talk and talk about the historical roots of low service levels, this kind of talk seems to do nothing except leave us resigned to a past that cannot be changed and a future limited by what we have inherited through centuries of servitude.
In other words, we are talking ourselves into thinking that things can never change.
As a consultant, I’ve been part of many brainstorming sessions, in which executives wondered to each other: “Why don’t we have a greater share of customer’s deposit accounts?” and “What can we do to open more accounts and attract more funds?” Little do they know that their front-line staff is doing its best to discourage the general population from opening new accounts, under the guise of presenting an elite image. The reality is, that they thinking that they are doing the right thing.
This is pretty funny at some level – executives burning the
The obvious question that you, the reader, are asking (and I’m guessing that you are probably a professional who has worked in the
Well, I do know better, but for the purposes of the project I was working on, I deliberately dressed in street clothes and did not use my contacts so that I could experience some of what the average person experiences. I also did not drop names, pull rank, ask to see the manager or any of the other things that we do in the region to distinguish ourselves as professionals from the “whole a di res’ ah dem.”
The truth is, there are at least three kinds of service in the
Tourist Service is self-explanatory. Friend Service is the kind that you extend to someone you either know, or want to know or are afraid might know you or even worse, might know someone important that you know. “Di Res Ah Dem” Service is the service given to the majority of people that you don’t know and will never see again, have no power and have no connection to you.
It’s funny to see how this works and to explore the variations on the theme.
Recently a friend of mine lost her passport. The first step was to fill out a police report, which we were assured would take at least 10 working days. After the police report was filed, it would take another 7 days to get the passport replaced. This was turning out to be a real problem, as her flight to return to the
At first, the policemen and women were polite, but slightly dismissive. The low point came when we returned to the airport to be told by a policewoman in an entirely dismissive tone that “no-one had turned one in” as she gave us a blank look, apparently annoyed that we were interrupting her job standing-at-the-counter-doing-nothing.
Well, a day or so later we got a call from one of the policemen behind the counter (the one who had taken the statement a few days before.) He was actually calling to apologize for his colleague’s dismissive behaviour, and for the fact that he could not talk to us himself. I was amazed.
He went on to ask me if I went to Wolmer’s Boys as a high school student. I answered, “Yes,” and he asked me if I remembered him. He was a year behind me, and we then spent the next fifteen minutes catching up, even though I was driving through the hills of
Not so amazing after all. I didn’t realize it, but he was giving Friend Service when I had been expecting “De Res Ah Dem” Service.
The same thing happened when I was dealing with another service provider, who I was referred to by a friend. He spent the first thirty minutes or so “qualifying me” which in the
Having said all that, I’ve spent the last few weeks in US wondering what it would take to create an entirely new class of service for the majority of our
I was in a Staples store in
Was it a line in her customer service manual? Was she trained in how to clean her space? How could it come so naturally to her? Was she a born high-achiever? (I doubt it, given what I know Staples pays its entry-level workers.) Was she used to hard-work whereas our
The second thought is that we don’t even begin to teach customer service in schools to our students as a subject, even though a great many of them (I would argue that this is true of ALL adults) will at some point be working in a job or position in which the customer-supplier model will be critical for them to know and employ.
I could imagine in-depth training in the theory and practice of excellent customer service, including practical tests, written and oral tests as well as research projects. Students would be required to experience good as well as bad service, and to develop for themselves a way of relating to people in a customer-supplier interaction that works to the benefit of both parties. In our heavily service-driven economy, this could open whole new areas of opportunity for local business, and do wonders for out tourist product.
This alone would do wonders for our regional economies, and remove some of the unnecessary hardship that comes from going about doing our daily business. We actually do care about each other deeply, but it’s about time we showed it on a regular basis.
It’s no accident that there have been so many times when I’ve been a customer, and yet I’ve ended up feeling like either a bad student, or a recalcitrant child. In the absence of role models, and in the absence of early training, I have a theory that a CSR goes to their past experience as a student and as a child, and tries to use that experience to deal with “De Res Ah Dem.”