Following last week’s column, I had a surprising and very welcome email from Terry Layne, jetBlue’s man in charge of Barbados, who took the time to comment on my observations.
If I have learnt just one single thing about tourism over the last five decades, it is that a business which is seeking success, must apply a high level of attention to detail.
Looking back, certainly during my travels, whether working or on pleasure it is almost always the people who make a positive difference. And it’s often the little things that make the difference. Changing the subject, I will never understand when a company or organisation spends millions on re-branding, yet does not invest a commensurate amount into improving customer service, when clearly that is one of its biggest weaknesses over a prolonged period of time. And I will hasten to add that I am not describing any entity directly involved in travel or tourism here.
It should not be necessary to frequently approach the very head of a company (in this particular matter, located overseas) to obtain a response to a problem that in our case had been festering and not dealt with over a period of 30 months. Some may say, but there are Government agencies, like for instance, the Fair Trading Commission, that you can contact. But in the case of telecommunications, only certain services are ‘regulated’, so you are then thrown back to the mercy of the supplier.
Then there are the economic implications, which in our situation, means that the company has overcharged us almost $2,000, while waiting to have the requested correction made. Only they could perform this function, so why is the user forced to pay for this gross inefficiency?
What is especially irksome is listening to senior company personnel almost daily on the radio saying what they are planning to do and how fortunate Barbados is to be the ‘only’ place in the world to have total fibre-optic coverage. While in reality, our still copper connected phones have never been so unreliable and our two broadband services which are fed by the new multi-million infrastructure, continues to be painfully slow and sporadic, even during early morning hours when you could imagine, there is lower demand locally.
I firmly believe every ‘Manager’ in that company should experience a day as an aggrieved customer. Being given an individual’s name and direct contact number, which when tried, simply rings and rings and rings unanswered. And that from a provider who collects enormous additional revenue by charging for voicemail facilities, but does not apply the concept to their own firm.
We normally pay online and this month’s bills showed different amounts payable to the printed copies. So you call the 1- 800 ‘call us’ number shown on invoice and are given two options. After inserting the 7 digit phone number, it gives you two choices, press 1 for residential and 2 for business. Neither of them work and the line then disconnects after uttering ‘thank you for calling Flow – goodbye’.
These are just simple examples of how there appears to be no effective quality control or monitoring in place. Once again begging the question, what if a greater proportion of the re-branding monies had been spent on implementing and testing the ‘system’?