Immigration gets customer friendly

The Cayman Islands Department of Immigration has opened a call centre aimed at speeding up response to customer enquiries.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said the call centre, which was first scheduled to open in January, had been delayed because of technological difficulties, finding a suitable location, and staff training. The centre officially opened 27 November.

Immigration Call Centre staff

The Immigration Call Centre staff are, from left, Tonilee Ewart, Delee Stewart, Michelle Barrett, Dianne Henry and Davina Palmer. Seated is Communication Centre Supervisor Jacqueline Whittaker. Photo Submitted

‘This was an enormous exercise,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘We had to be very innovative in how we dealt with these things, and they take time.’

The Immigration Department’s call centre was just one of several issues outlined in a report to the Legislative Assembly from the Office of the Complaints Commissioner. The OCC looked into the Department after receiving complaints about how Immigration was handling various applications.

The OCC report said several complaints were well-founded, including those involving misplaced files, long delays, lack of response to correspondence and phones not being answered.

In one complaint, a work permit applicant was not notified about the permit’s status for more than 10 months. In another case, the report said the department failed to provide information about regularizing the Immigration status of a non-Caymanian school child for more than a year.

The OCC report also noted that work on a proposed customer service centre for the Department of Immigration was far from being completed, and that a website with information about the department had not been updated.

Mr. Manderson said he expects the final website design will be complete in a month or so. He could not give a time frame on the customer service centre.

‘There is room for significant improvement in customer service and we’re anxious to see that happen,’ said Complaints Commissioner Mr. John Epp.

Mr. Manderson acknowledged the delays, but said he believes the call centre is a good step toward improving customer service.

‘I can’t refute what (the OCC) is saying in terms of we didn’t do what we said we were going to do,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘But any member of the public who has business with the Immigration Department…will now see the great improvements we’ve made.’

FYI

Anyone with questions about work permits, residency applications and the like are encouraged to contact the Immigration call centre at 949-8344.

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