As customers, Jamaicans are often left grasping the proverbial 'un-flavorful' end of the stick when it comes to the deliverables from our service suppliers for which we pay our hard-earned cash.
For example, consistent, quality service from cable providers, on whom we depend for in-home entertainment, and our 'friendly' neighbourhood banks, is spotty at best.
Yet, you can bet your bottom dollar that before your monthly stipend hits your bank account, you will receive an assortment of dire warnings about disconnections and sundry forms of medieval punishment, if you do not pay up, and on-time.
Most of us would sacrifice our first-born to experience consistently great customer care. I know I have seriously contemplated this. But while we have given up on receiving the reliable service quality that we spend an arm and leg for, just for today, I would just settle for caring, comforting customer communication from any one of my service providers. Please.
Send me a human voice: I understand that we are in the age of technology, furthermore, things are tight, so companies cannot afford to employ as many people to field customer calls.
My brain understands this clearly but unfortunately, my heart is not in sync with this reality. It is not that I am a member of the lonely hearts club looking for a friend or human contact on the telephone, but it is comforting to hear a human voice instead of the disembodied one that issues you robotic instructions when you call customer care.
Like you, I have wasted hundreds of hours of my life-time, 'pressing one, two or three' as the case may be, waiting for a real person to come to my aid. It is definitely distressing especially when you remember that when your business was being courted, sales persons from those self-same companies made numerous and persistent calls to your doors.
They tracked you down with more persistence than blood-hounds and never left your side until you signed on the dotted line. If you are busy they would lay-wait you and call a few hours later.
Your telephone never stopped ringing with sales enquiries from them about your health and well-being. It was like being stalked by a potential and over-zealous lover. True to form, as soon as they have got your 'goods' they disappear like thieves in the night.
Their phone becomes unreachable and whenever you do get them by using an 'unknown' number the stuttering and stammering and excuses for not being in touch to solve an immediate problem is embarrassing. I think though that the time has come for organisations to employ as much customer care personnel as they do sales persons. I do believe that we as customers deserve more than this, after all now that you have caught our attention (and our purses) you need to earn your keep.
Face to face at the cash register: I often wonder if I am the most curmudgeon and finicky of customers. If I have chosen your store in which to shop spend my money then I do believe I am worthy of your full attention. I have noticed that since the explosion of the mobile phones into the hands of everyone who can buy (or trust) credit, cashiers and sales-persons have been driven to distraction by the instrument and their conversations which are obviously more important that our piddling sales.
It is downright annoying to be enquiring about goods and services only to have to listen to the tail end of Daphne's discussion about her utter disgust with her baby-father's 'bad ways'. She puts you on pause to spend quality time with her loved one. Enough, already.
Usually my patience quickly wears thin very quickly and by the time she realizes she has lost my sale, I have slipped out of the store my pride shattered by the lack of attention but the contents of my purse intact because of her inattention.
Kindly reminders: There are some companies who have mastered the art of the timely reminder for bill payments. They are not over-bearing with the information and do not threaten to cut you off at the knees if you do not fork over the full-payment in cash.
Kudos to them, we truly appreciate that kind of communication. However, it is the renegade few that we take issue with right here and now. Be kind in your communication with us when we are late; notify us before slapping us upside the head with late fees that sometimes amount to more than we have in the bank on a 'profitable month. Jamaicans certainly crave kind and comforting customer connection. Let us experience this.
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specializing in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.