Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Excellent customer service is possible - Kudos to Bryan Photo, PICA and Customs

Published:Friday | July 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

 Aubyn Hill,  Financial Gleaner Columnist

It is true that many employees in both the public and private sectors give less-than-good and even poor service to their customers.

This is especially depressing when that poor service is dished out by staff of privately owned and managed companies.

In this very difficult economy when owners, managers and every employee with a job should be making every effort to cater to and make the extra effort to satisfy, no, excite and pamper, every person who walks into their business places, and who could become a customer, high-quality service is a rare commodity.

This week, I had excellent service experiences which I really wish would be copied by business owners and managers, and public-sector leaders who run service agencies and service-to-the-public units in ministries.

The pleasantness started at Bryan Photo Studio in Kings Plaza. While the studio is famous, I had never been there, nor did I ever have a conversation with Mr Bryan or any member of his staff. I needed passport pictures to renew my passport and someone suggested I should go to Bryan's.

I was wondering near the second-floor studio when a very pleasant and distinguished gentleman stepped out and greeted a young lady - who obviously knew where she was going - and me, who was clearly unsure of the destination shop.

Mr Bryan and his staff were courteous, and he was very efficient at taking and processing the photographs. The 12 passport pictures I ordered were promised in 15 minutes and they came back, perfect in execution to meet the pesky requirements of the authorities, in less than the stated time.

The studio and shop were impeccably clean and the air-conditioned area had a large-screen television set to keep customers entertained and, no doubt, to watch live World Cup football matches.

Compared to decades past and in an era when the issuing of passports was not done by an autonomous agency, getting my passport renewed was a cinch. The form was available on line, well designed and easy to follow and complete.

Practices to emulate

I was directed to a Lesline Chisholm who, along with her colleague, Ms Cole, walked me through the process of examining the form and photographs and guided me through the simple steps to secure my new passport in 24 hours.

Mrs Chisholm had been at the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) for less than a year, after spending almost 10 years at the supercharged private-sector service powerhouse, Digicel.

She had very favourable comparisons between the ability and output of both organisations. She reminisced about how parents would call her at Digicel to marvel at the changes they would notice in their young adult children after a few weeks at the company. They actually came to work on time.

She was praiseworthy of how Digicel spent its marketing funds under pitched tents and on rewarding employees, rather than on fancy resorts. Now that's a practice the Government could copy from Digicel!

Mrs Chisholm noted the productivity of the PICA employees but saw where they can be encouraged to have the high level of self-belief and self-confidence of her former colleagues at Digicel.

Employees at that private-sector giant have enough self-confidence to give away a bunch to many employees at other private-sector firms and government agencies.

CUSTOMS AND LOSHUSAN ROAD

A few months ago, the chairman of National Baking Company, Butch Hendrickson, told me about the beyond-the-call-of-duty service he received from two wonderful female Customs officials. He sent a unique vintage car to the United States for some specialised mechanical work to be done on the vehicle. When the work was completed it had to once again pass through Customs in order to be returned to its owner.

Mr Hendrickson had some trepidation about the kind of packing and unpacking that the Customs officials may have employed. He called the officials at Customs and explained the unusual packing arrangements that had to be used to avoid damaging the vehicle during transit from the US to Jamaica.

The Customs officials surprised the businessman on the positive upside. They offered very exceptional consideration to accompany the trailer and container which would transport the car to the final garage and conduct the Customs processing at the final destination. He did not have to offer any consideration in return nor was he asked for any.

These ladies were being excellent customer service agents - and on a weekend morning at that. Butch Hendrickson remains an impressed and happy user of our Customs services.

Last week, I was very critical of the very long time the relevant but still unknown alphabet-soup-named government agency had taken to complete the little piece of pavement at the top of East Kings House Road near the Loshusan Supermarket. Well, by Tuesday this week the pavement was completed and the devilish bottleneck, which snarled commuter traffic, was removed. Let us hope this repair effort was well coordinated between the works agencies and so will not be dug and disturbed in just another couple of months.

We now encourage the road-disrupting agencies to pave properly, with adequate drainage, the balance of road between King's House gate, pass the Indian High Commissioner's residence, and touching the newly paved piece at the north end of the road.

Aubyn Hill is CEO of Corporate Strategies and chair of the Opposition Leader's Economic Advisory Council. Email: writerhill@gmail.comTwitter: @HillaubynFacebook: facebook.com/Corporate.Strategies