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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

10/23/2007

Service from Untrained Professionals

In a comment on a prior post, Crystal made some excellent points. Among them were:
Weeding out the wrong candidates is definitely a must because all the training in the world would not prompt an employee who is not customer service oriented to assist a potential customer. Unfortunately for a vast majority of the Caribbean this is not an option. Many businesses taking this route will be left with closed doors. It is difficult for them to attract employees much less the right employees. I have witnessed quite a few instances where customer complaints have resulted in a mere slap on the wrist or no consequence at all to the employee, all because business owners need these employees to keep their doors open. I believe that it would take an instance of outright theft for them to let an employee go.
There is some definite truth to this, as the difficulty of finding employees in Trinidad, and to a lesser extent, Barbados is well documented. Yet, the lack of service in Jamaica which has rampant unemployment, does not bode well for that theory. However, I would argue that the general service level in Jamaica is higher than it is in the other islands; this from personal experience, perhaps due to the greater difficulty in finding one in the first place.

Too often business owners in the Caribbean do not reflect the attitude that they want their employees to portray. Many treat their staff with disdain, mistrust and so they reap the benefits of their deeds.
I believe that this is the crux of the matter, and is reflected in the book "Why Workers Won't Work" and other studies and reports. Incidentally, a summary of the book is available at our website.
Not to say that the employees are not a fault, many refuse to utilize the training given seeing the current job as a stepping stone and so they are not required to give their all.
Let us say that they are not taught how to give it their all, especially in a customer service relationship.
My wife suffered recently at the hands of a doctor who had no problem having her patients wait for hour without apology. She also "prescribed" J$4000 of Herbalife products when she came in with a stomach ache... none of which happened to be covered by insurance, but which she made a profit as a distributor in her multi-level marketing "business."
Where does a doctor learn customer service skills? Or an accountant? Or a lawyer? Certainly not in school.
Yet, they are called upon to use their undeveloped skills each and every day with an unsuspecting public.
In our small economies, I imagine that 90% of high school graduates will have occasion to work in a customer service capacity at some point, without a single hour of customer service training whatsoever.
The problem is that we are all able to pick out bad service when we see it, but terribly poor at seeing and stopping ourselves when we are the ones delivering it. We just don't have the right capacity.

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