Jamaica has a customer service problem. Seriously. And it’s time we resolve to fix it.

It’s an intuitive idea that poor customer service is bad for business. But it’s clear that many Jamaican business owners are underestimating how bad it is. Customer service seems to be the last thing proprietors consider when trying to boost profits. Many are happy to simply accept the losses from their employees’ abrasive attitudes towards customers. Rather than working to resolve these unpleasant experience, business owners instead seem quick to deny liability for employee actions. We kid you not, we have seen a notice at a prominent Kingston business place that boldly announce that the enterprise did not endorse advice given by its customer service representatives. It begs the question, who are these agents representing if not the business where they are employed?

A cursory Twitter search for ‘Jamaica customer service’ yields more astonishing results. Customers are routinely verbally abused by agents who are meant to act as the central point of contact between them and the business whose deliverables they require. It’s distasteful and embarrassing. In a nation fueled by tourism, business owners should be dedicated to keeping their customer service in-line with internationally recognised best practices. Improving the customer service experience for natives and visitors is a practical goal all business in Jamaica should work to achieve in the new year.

However we define ‘good’ customer service, it’s evident what exists in Jamaica now  is far from it. But how do we go about fixing it? The first step is to put employees ahead of the customer. This seems counterintuitive in light of all of what has just been said, but happy employees create happy customers. The hostile attitude of many customer service reps in Jamaica may be a structural problem from employers’ failure to invest in the wellbeing of their employees. Decent compensation, training and opportunity can easily motivate these often overworked and underpaid workers. Business owners should also make it clear that rewards exist for superior performance.

The next step in this journey is to draft customer service standards. Your business needs to have a readily available document that details what is expected of your customer service reps, and all employees more broadly. This document should be as specific as possible to the task at hand, in simple language, and and underline business protocols with measurable results. Above all, it should be written to meet the needs of the customer and maximise customer satisfaction. Moreover, this document should not only be distributed among employees, but a short version should be made available to all customers. This way you set customer’s expectations in their dealings with you business, and signal that you value their patronage.

With improved customer service, you can expect to see more repeat customers as well as some patronising your business more frequently because they enjoy the atmosphere you create. Dealing with a customer service agent should not be something we collectively dread as Jamaicans. Please, let’s leave all that hostility and negative energy in 2018.