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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: The customer matters

Dr Frances Chandler, [email protected]

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: The customer matters

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A FEW WEEKS AGO  I had a “go” at Flow. I will admit that I did get an immediate response from a local staff member who was extremely courteous and professional, but unfortunately she isn’t a magician, so all my Flow problems remain. As I pointed out to her, being able to discuss problems with someone on the ground who speaks your language does give some comfort.

I still maintain that Flow has bitten off more than it can chew, and before they offer all the fancy and sometimes trivial “add-ons”, they need first to provide a reliable basic service to enable companies and individuals to carry out their business without pain. What’s the point of me being able to “download the Flow Football app to watch Arsenal vs Stoke” but it takes me five minutes to get dial tone on my landline? It was quicker with the old black phones in days of yore.

Some readers tell me I’ve been rather mild recently. Maybe that’s because I’m trying to maintain peace in my life amidst the chaos around me. I actually just left the BARP office where I saw posted “Positive Energy Always Creates Excellence” (PEACE). Ironically, my peace was disrupted in said office when I learned that in addition to my annual subscription, I must pay an extra $5 every year for a new membership card – to my mind, a total waste of resources, especially since BARP is an organisation for pensioners who usually have limited resources. But of course, we have the same situation with drivers’ licences and passports, all of which should be able to be updated. So, all those creative/innovative minds we have in our midst need to get cracking with a technological solution.

Now to the banks once again. No matter how you complain, little seems to change in favour of the customer. I must admit though, that Republic Bank in Speightstown is making an effort and the others need to take note. I visited that bank for the first time recently and was surprised at the luxurious “living room like” comfort provided for clients – sofas, coffee tables, magazines and all (the coffee would’ve put the final touch). You took a number and relaxed in comfort until you were called. This standing in a queue for a minimum of an hour, which is now the norm, just isn’t acceptable.

Then there are other inefficiencies like waiting three weeks for a cheque book at my favourite bank when in the past it used to be two days. Staff who deal with “non-teller” issues go on holiday and aren’t replaced, so someone has to search around for the key to the desk to be able to assist. It’s even difficult to donate to the Red Cross effort for Dominica. Although it was announced on the radio, no one in one listed bank could assist me.

Banks need to realise that they can no longer pacify customers with slogans like “We’re here for you” and “It’s all about you”. It’s not about “customer appreciation day” every now and then with a little chocolate cake with royal blue icing – although I must say that does help to keep the blood sugar level up while you wait in the long queues. What we need is efficiency.

Anyway, good news – I’ve just received a survey via email from one bank asking me to “tell about my experience”. I certainly will.

Then there’s the Barbados Water Authority (BWA). While they must be commended for the recent mains improvements and the continued work in Bridgetown, as someone noted recently, there’s no point fixing the mains if the pumps continue to fail. It’s difficult to understand how building the magnificent headquarters could be more of a priority than fixing or replacing these pumps. Will this building bring about more efficient service? Rumour has it that the building includes a swimming pool and gym. As shareholders in BWA, will the public get a guided tour to confirm/deny this rumour?

Finally, my water meter was recently changed to a “smart meter” which stopped working after a few days. It now reads E–A–1. The explanation given is that “these digital things do as they like sometimes”. The matter is to be rectified when the meter is read. How smart is that?

Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email [email protected].