Barbadians are being warned that delivering poor customer service has the potential to drive away much needed investment and tourism business from these shores.
That caution has come from Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, who also warned that bad customer service could have a significant negative impact on businesses’ bottom lines.
“I hope that as a nation we all appreciate the importance of the provision of excellent service, at all times, under all circumstances . . . . We must not settle for mediocrity in our standards in this society,” advised Inniss.
“Visitors and investors may not call the call-in programmes and complain about awful service at a bar or restaurant or with a taxi driver or front line officer; investors will not write a letter to the editors in the local newspapers about bad service levels in some departments, but they will quickly exercise their right to take their holiday or investment elsewhere.”
Inniss was addressing a national seminar on standards, organized by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, under the theme Standards Build Trust.
Among other aims, the seminar was designed to educate participants about the importance of and ways of meeting international standards.
“When products conform to international standards, consumers can have confidence that they are safe, reliable and of good quality,” he told the room of private and public sector representatives.
He suggested that, through improved systems and processes, companies would experience a reduction in their operational costs, as well as an increase in customer satisfaction.
“Businesses also benefit from taking part in the standard development process with the Barbados National Standard Institution [BNSI],” he added.
The minister said Government was committed to modernizing the BNSI and the entire standards system on the island.
He pointed out that while some organizations were helping to develop standards for the services sector, “it is the responsibility of each company, big or small, public or private, and each citizen, to offer the highest quality of service at all times”.
“Our island needs to really foster a culture of service excellence as a matter of urgency, if we are to truly wrestle our social and economic challenges to the ground and to develop and sustain vibrancy and growth in our economy,” stressed Inniss, as he encouraged staff of the BNSI and other stakeholders to “think outside of the box” as they engaged the public, to ensure consistently high standards.
Making a short presentation, director of the BNSI Hayden Rhynd said it was critical for local businesses to create a clear strategy for their development, which included high standards.
“What I want you to be mindful of in your organizations, in your own businesses, [is] how are we going to develop strategies to better enable our competitiveness and innovation,” he said.