A few months ago I visited one of the major supermarket chains in Tunapuna to pick up, among other things, Biskrem biscuits. I couldn’t find them after scanning the snack aisle few times. There were two replenishers who were engrossed conversation. One of them was seated and I noticed her head was parallel to a shelf laden with Biskrem sticks. “She might I know where I can find the cookies”, I thought.
The following exchange ensued:
Me: Excuse me, do you know where I can find the Biskem biscuits? I’m only seeing the sticks on the shelf.
Replenisher: Well yuh go hadda look for dem! Replenisher laughs and turns away.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Does the above story sound familiar? Of course it does! Sassy sale clerks, unattendant attendants and cantankerous cashiers are characters we’ve all encountered too often in Trinidad and Tobago. There are even Facebook pages with thousands of followers dedicated to airing customer service grievances in Trinidad.
But why? Why is poor customer service so commonplace? In her speech at a 2016 conference on customer service strategy, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms. Paula Gopee-Scoon provided a possible explanation; She suggested that because our economy was strong (at the time) and the energy sector provided adequate revenue (in 2016) poor customer service was ignored and allowed to flourish. That might be a possible reason, but is it the only reason? Also, by her reasoning customer service should improve in an economic downturn so how do we account for poor customer service today? Is there anything we, the consumers, can do about it?
I’m not sure I have the answers. I do expect a certain level of customer service when I patronize a business and when that expectation isn’t met or I’m met with poor service I don’t patronize them again. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible; I had to go back to the supermarket.
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Adrian D -