This week, 4th to 10th October 2015, is being recognised and celebrated as ‘Customer Service Week’ across Jamaica. Led by the Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA))…[I must admit that I didn’t know they existed until a few weeks ago]… the charge is being made to deliver and celebrate sound customer service across our beautiful island! We are also invited to highlight (‘big up’) organisations exhibiting excellence in this very important area. It is an indisputable fact that good service is tied to the success or failure of our organisations. Take it as read also that it also plays a key role in the building of our nation. No, I’m not being grandiose…think about it…..[Finished?]
Now before we explore ‘Customer Service’ on a deeper level, I just want to address those of you that scoffed at the title of this piece [i’ll wait while you scroll back up to refresh yourself]. Those of you that made either a mental or verbal comment about the chronically poor levels of customer service on the island. You might even have recalled a personal example of encountering a ‘facety’ shop assistant, sour faced bank clerk or dismissive hotel receptionist. For those of you, yes indeed, there are without doubt an uncomfortable number of individuals out there that make our collective blood boil as we seek to go about our daily consumer business. However, please indulge me and halt those negative thoughts while I invite you to venture with me into another world of service…[did you hear the Twilight Zone music just now?]. The world of service that is taking Jamaica by storm…starting with YOU! Stay with me now.
Let’s put things in perspective. Mine of course, but again, indulge and follow me. I have lived in only two countries in my lifetime and have been blessed to have travelled to many parts of the world. I can categorically report that ‘Bad Customer Service’ is a global problem. It doesn’t matter which world you [think] you are in, 1st, 2nd (oh, there is such thing!) or 3rd…there is only ONE world when it comes to service, good or bad!
MY UK EXPERIENCE
Now I must state that I am particularly sensitive to people’s energy…vibes, whatever you choose to refer to it as (my mother called it ‘Spirit’). I’m like a walking guage. Well I was quite taken aback when I returned to the UK for a period last year and noticed the shocking drop in service delivery standards across the board. The vibration in so many of the consumer outlets was stagnant to poor. The staff were not engaged…they were’nt fully ‘there’. Then there was the consequent poor service. I couldn’t believe the blatant preoccupation with ‘chatting’ your boss or colleague with a fellow worker…while serving me! The open complaining, expressions of being ‘tired and’ can’t wait for closing time, checking mobile phones etc. was quite alarming. I make this point about the UK because it is still considered by some to be the ‘motherland’ showpiece of best practice and service excellence. Well something has slipped in this so called ‘1st World. The workers are despondent, lacklustre, miserable and ‘not bovvered (bothered)’.
BACK IN THE DAY!
In the good old days, in the UK, I would go into a store and ask an assistant for a particular garment and he/she would scurry off with a ‘let me just check for you madam’ simultaneously leaving their enthusiastic lips. Nowadays, the standard response is “all that we’ve got is out” or “ if you don’t see it on that rack, we haven’t got it”. Me, being my usual expect-proper-consumer-service self will usually respond, “I didn’t see one, perhaps you would care to look for me”…[silent search]. “Maybe you should check in the store room to see if there is one there”…[pause, followed by reluctant retreat into back room] and “you have other branches, how about calling one of them to see if they have it in stock?”…[by now dem tyad a mi and the body language communicates that to me clearly]. Mi nuh business…good customer service is what I expect and I will continue to highlight the lack thereof as necessary, at home or abroad! In balance (before you ban me from your shops), I also make a regular habit of praising good service each and every place I experience it, even going to the Supervisor, Manager or Owner to voice my pleasure at being served by their staff member.
JAMAICA SWEET JAMAICA!
So back to Jamaica I come, [you still with me?]…the so called ‘3rd World’ and I see proactive, positive strides being made by the team at JaCSA to create an island of Customer Service Excellence as standard. Go on, picture it…that unfolding reality has warmed my heart and spurred my passion to connect with the JaCSA. Sarifa and I will be part of their national mission. That’s where YOU, the amazing customer servers, come in. Join in creating this powerful service excellence vision…holding that vision until it manifests. So, starting today (5th October)…
1. YOU are required to give excellent customer service to both your internal and external customers.
2. YOU are required to encourage your colleagues to put their best service foot forward for this week in particular and then find ways of sustaining this feel good service giving, because believe me, it does feel good when a customer acknowledges your sterling service efforts. An employer acknowledging is also a bonus!
Employers? You might be wondering…(with a pained look on your face), how do you change a bad service giver into an excellent service giver? My take would make this blog too long…i’ll get back to you with my take in Part II. Remind me.
BY THE WAY
As many of you know…because we told you already, Sarifa Insurance Brokers is the current holder of a PSOJ/JaCSA Award for Customer Service Excellence 2015 (Small Business Category). We are not perfect, but we are working on it!
An excerpt from the JaCSA mandate reads, “We envision the establishment of a culture of Service Excellence which pulsates throughout organisations and communities across the entire island of Jamaica”
Remember, YOU too are invited to do that one simple thing for the national cause…hold the vision!
“Thoughts are powerful, collective thoughts are magical!” [me].
Sarifa supports this vision and as part of our ambassadorial role, today, we launched our
‘FB Cellie-Brate Customer Service Excellence’ Competition.
1. You get good customer service anywhere in Jamaica (other than at your own establishment).
2. You take a selfie with the staff member (s) at the establishment (show company name if possible).
3. You post the picture to the Sarifa Facebook page + a statement about the service you received… and that’s it!
The organisation selected by most ‘likes’ and Judges decision will win YOU a prize and the organisation, some valuable, well deserved publicity!