THE EDITOR: Poor customer service is endemic in TT. So I wish to sincerely thank Donna Cox, Social Development and Family Services Minister, for appealing to members of the corporate and financial sectors to facilitate older people to do business more easily at their different institutions.
When she spoke in March at the TTConnect's office in Chaguanas, she said, “Today I make an appeal that comes from the depths of my own heart, not just as the minister, but as a citizen and the daughter of a senior citizen. Please do something, anything that would relieve our senior citizens of that burden of having to line up at 6 am in the morning to collect their money, when your institution opens for business at 9 am."
Referring to the “long lines of senior citizens snaking around the buildings housing our major financial institutions, on the first and 15th days of every month," she noted that "those two days are significant days for our elders, as those are the days when they receive either their senior citizens pension or their NIS pension."
What she said was pertinent because she reflected the feelings of many people. After what I had observed over several months, I sent a letter to an official at the communications department of my bank on February 24, 2019.
I stated in part, “Through you and on behalf of senior citizens of TT, I wish to recommend that your bank’s branches provide better amenities for the elder persons who have to use your services.
“(1) At the San Juan branch, older clients have to stand outside in the hot sun, only to be let inside in batches and then have to suffer a long time in the lines which accommodate other clients.
“(2) At the Independence Square branch, the lines are inordinately long and there is sometimes only one teller for older persons.
“At Park Street the situation is the same as at Independence Square.
“I recognise that there are ATM facilities at each branch and there is also e-banking, however there are issues of mistrust with these electronic systems. As a result, our older citizens prefer to have face-to-face contact with your staff.”
Cox echoed my last concern, that while many of these institutions have made their services available online, as her ministry has done, she said, "Quite a few of our senior citizens will never utilise those services, either out of fear or simply because this represents their one excursion for the month.”
The problem may be that the private and state sectors do not budget adequately for good customer service, hence the deficiencies like those at the banks.
I am aware that there is a Customer Service Professionals’ Group of TT (CuSPTT) launched two years ago by DRA Consulting’s Dawn Richards. Hopefully, the group may have some future impact.
Or maybe Minister Cox may be able to nudge the banks, other financial institutions and the state toward better customer service.