Today’s Editorial August 25: A little courtesy, please

Both JC Calhoun and Vicki Wheaton brought to our attention last week in the Observer on Sunday the lack of customer service that seems to be so prevalent at businesses and companies in the Cayman Islands.

We alluded to it last week in an editorial about those pesky answering services.

If there are so many of us talking about it, it must be apparent. Customer service – for the most part – is awful.

Now we are of course comparing today’s customer service to that of just a few years ago.

Yes, there are more people in the Cayman Islands. Long gone are the days when you knew just about everybody else.

We would like to think that the lack of customer service is because of the influx of strangers and not just because people are downright rude.

We also have questioned the English speaking skills of some of the ex-patriots that find themselves on our shores working in our service industry.

Yes, Immigration does have an English test that all incoming workers must pass, but it is bare bones at best.

It is highly annoying to walk into a retail establishment and hear workers bantering amongst themselves in a language that is foreign to the Cayman Islands.

And since when is it appropriate for front-line staff at any retailer, restaurant or business to have a personal cell phone at their disposal while dealing with a client?

We think business owners should realise that the receptionist, clerk, check-out person, wait person – those people who have direct contact with the public – are the face of that company.

How front-line staff treat customers is the way customers will see the company. If the encounter is unpleasant it is likely that customer won’t return.

And even worse, customers will recount their experience to others, who will recount it to even more.

The front-line experience can make or break any business.

According to the Oxford dictionary’s definition, the verb “serve” has many meanings, including, but not limited to, to do a service for; to carry out duties; to be useful or serviceable for; to meet requirements or perform a function; to attend to; to treat in a specified way.

A combination of all these things adds up to good customer service.

But there’s more.

Good customer service also includes manners, politeness, respect and courtesy.

It is up to the businesses that hire the ex-patriots to ensure those workers are properly trained and realise they are working in a village atmosphere, not some major metropolitan city.

If there was a minimum wage in the Cayman Islands we may not have the problem with common courtesy we are experiencing now.

But that’s an issue for another day.