Wednesday, April 17, 2024

EDITORIAL: Better service is needed

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AS A COUNTRY heavily dependent on its services sector, we understand the importance of  providing an exceptional customer experience.
It is the link between success and failure. That is why we take the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) and the work it does so seriously.
Unfortunately, it seems that after years of preaching the need to be nice in all endeavours,  every day and to whomever you come into contact with, the message has unfortunately not gotten through to some key people. We speak specifically of some of our Immigration and Customs officers at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
 This newspaper reported this week on the high level of frustration many visitors encounter with this group of the island’s frontline employees. It is obvious that the comments are not from people who simply want their own way or who would not respond in a similar manner to what happens in their own country.
That the reports are worrisome is reflected in what Parliamentary Secretary in the Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, said in reaction, noting that they “must be tackled at all levels”.
 The visitors who have posted their comments online about the poor treatment and uncaring welcome extended them are not alone in such expressions of denunciation. Many Barbadians react similarly. Indeed, one of this newspaper’s columnists  recently referred to this unacceptable behaviour in an article.
The problem
Hopefully, that situation will not deteriorate with a show of who has power and authority. Rather, the trade unions, the Immigration  and Customs Departments, Government and NISE must work assiduously to address the problem.
Do not let us play ostrich in what is a crisis situation. We must provide the type of service and welcome that will make all the difference for this country, its brand and people, particularly in these challenging times.
 Hopefully, the Chief Immigration Officer and the Comptroller of Customs will address the issue with empathy; acknowledge some of their customers have genuine concerns; and outline how they will address them. Please apologize for the actions of those wayward officers and in going forward communicate with the public taking them into your confidence, especially when facing difficult circumstances and demanding customers.
  Both the Immigration Department and the Customs Department are notorious for their lack of transparency with the public. It is perhaps important that they both step into the modern world and one of the best ways is to institute a crisis communication plan. Your customers, yes, the public, want to know about your actions, and the more prepared you are to reply, the better. These two departments must gain the confidence of those doing business with them. It will enhance long-term customer loyalty – both local and visitor.

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