Sat | Dec 3, 2016

The customers' side of service

Published:Thursday | October 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: Jamaica is one of the nicest places in the world; from the beautiful scenery to the passionate and warm people. That's why it baffles me that customer service is such an issue.

I went to a well-known patty establishment in Kingston. The cashier told me that my wait would be five minutes, to which I replied "No problem." After 15 minutes of jamming with my iPod, I said to one of the service professionals while showing her my ticket "Good afternoon, how much longer for my fries?" She responded by saying "I don't know." With a silly, blank look on her face, she proceeded to turn and walk away.

I stood still for a second in disbelief. I was expecting something along the lines of "One moment, sir, I'll check on it for you." I guess that was too much to ask. Another patron shared my sentiment, which was evidenced when she looked up at me and shook her head as she chuckled sympathetically.

Another experience made me feel as if my 11 a.m. request for information must have been interrupting the clerk's mid-day nap.

More often than not, however, I leave establishments with good experiences and my secret weapon is quite simple. This trick is extremely potent, so brace yourself: Whenever I enter a place of business I am ... wait for it ... nice!

Dale Carnegie wrote "If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive." It sounds simple enough, yet many are stung daily. Consumers tend to be very abusive and many times take out their life's frustrations on the person doing their best to assist them. Some people use the customer-service representative's job description as license to verbally abuse them and, in turn, expect excellent service. That, I believe, is unreasonable.

The customer-service professionals here in Jamaica undoubtedly have a lot to learn. One's body language, as well as the words that escape the lips, have a huge impact on the way a consumer feels. We, as consumers, however, have a lot to do with the way we are treated and, as such, I charge you: Don't only expect good customer service (which you most definitely should), but also make the conscious effort to be a good customer.

Stephen-Rhae Johnson

stephenrhaejohnson@gmail.com