Delivering consistently good customer service, across the board, has for a long time has been one of the greatest and contentious challenges on Barbados. And even if locals have been conditioned to accepting the many failings, our visitors are starting to rebel, contending whether increasingly high prices, are indeed offering actual value-for-money or justifying the prices charged.
While running a business may not totally equate to the same experience as the majority of our visitors, there are clear overlapping areas where guests to our shores are confronted, if not challenged with poor and indifferent services.
Our banks are a classic case.
Their given mission statements often appears to alienate everyone, regardless of origin and they seldom seem to learn by their mistakes. If only each ‘manager’ would become a customer for a day and subject themselves to what any ordinary mortal has to endure.
Recently I received through the post (mailed in Canada) a personalized (Christian name) letter stating ‘You’ve been selected for a card upgrade’. Two telephone numbers were shown on the document and as I had some queries called the first, a local number which eventually connected me to a remote offshore call centre, perhaps in Jamaica. The ‘agent’ after extracting all necessary security information, knew nothing about the promotion, as frequently happens, so obviously, they were unable to help with my questions.
This outsourcing of such a critical component of good service delivery seems to have become a fashionable trend among larger organisations, in their apparent belief that it brings reduced operating expenses, often to areas where some of the employed staff even struggle to speak the same language.
The second number under the name of the local branch manager connected me to a voicemail, where I left contact details. Much later in the day, the assistant manager called and was again unable to answer my concerns, but promised to call me back the following Monday, which sadly he did not, or the next day.
And subsequent emails to the Managing Director, branch manager and other senior personnel remain unanswered up until submission of this column.
The credit card promoted promised ‘You’re on your way to more places’ offered a sign-up bonus of 7,000 points provided the card was used for a minimum spend of BDS$1,500 by 31st March 2020. Subsequent purchases using the card would earn 1 point for every US$1 spent. And went on to promise ‘Just 20,000 points, earns you a flight to New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, or anywhere in the Caribbean’ and ‘all for the annual fee of BBD$199’.
Now remember the opening statement mentioned ‘upgrade’.
Our current credit card (issued by the same bank) includes one which offers a cash back facility that pays a minimum of 1% (other purchases) and a maximum of 4% (groceries/gas).
So for the new ‘upgrade’ card to achieve sufficient points for one airline ticket it would require a minimum spend of BDS$27,500, plus the upfront cost of the annual fee.
Using our existing card, which has a much lower annual fee, that same BDS$27,500 would return at least $275 in cash back and as much as BDS$1,100 at the higher rate.
So where is the ‘upgrade’?
Is it an ‘upgrade’ in bank profit?
We have become all too willing or docile to accept a level of service here that would never be tolerated in the domain of these foreign companies.