Service, please!

10 March 2020 | Columns

Ester Kamati



Many of us are at that age where we need to transition from a “mommy’s girl” or “mommy’s boy” who can always count on our parents to do things for us and not having to lift a finger, to developing a mandatory sense of independence. Running errands becomes part of the daily routine – from going to the bank, making your own appointments and doing grocery shopping to dealing with contracts, bills and anything in between. Here, we encounter people behind the counters who may be unkind and sometimes even tough to get through to due to communication barriers and a clash of personalities, among other things.

I recently visited a government institution which I will not name, but I’m sure many of you can already relate to this experience before I even let you know what it is. It has become so common that people are placed in positions where they either immediately forget what their tasks are or simply do not care to deliver. Anyway… Throwback to the event that inspired me to base my column on poor service at institutions that are essential points for many citizens.

There I was. Luckily, I was right on time and did not find a queue, but for the amount of time I had been waiting, I might as well have found 20 people queued ahead of me. For what felt like a good 30 minutes, I had to sit back and wait for this person’s oh-so-important phone call to conclude, which was far too urgent to wait for lunch time and way to descriptive to have over text message. With smiles and giggles and many names coming up in this conversation, I was basically in a position to jump in and tell this personal call agent who sat at reception that she was misjudging ‘Hileni’.

After what felt like a lifetime, after the conversation ended, or rather the caller’s airtime finished, I was finally assisted and ready to move on to the next point where I dreaded having to wait again. Mind you, I was simply asking for directions to the actual place where I was supposed to go (and no, there was nobody else around to ask).

This is a scene so common that it becomes commendable to find somebody actually doing the job they were employed to do in the first place. I’m not sure why this has become an ignored reality that service delivery places rarely deliver services and when they do, it is sloppy and served with side-eye.

If we could just target giving good service even once a week, I think we might go far. I’m not sure what service providers do to annoy their employees, but they need to stop because the money-bringers, popularly known as clients, are getting the heat for it.

Many times, we don’t want to be that sour person who demands to speak to the manager (which, for some reason, is always when something is not going right). For once, it would be great to want to see the manager for something positive.

A compliment a day would not hurt, and treating clients like they are inconveniencing is not quite the perfect way to engage clients.

It instantly eases you to walk into a place, especially for youngsters who are at this point forced to run errands and walk in the shoes of an adult, with good service. This being an unfamiliar task, it would be nice to encounter a smile and not feel like you are being put on the spot.

It is always a chain of reaction with everyone you find. When one person steps on your toe, the next person you encounter feels the wrath. The chain continues with that person because they’ll take it out on someone else and so it goes until everybody in the city is upset.

I just hope that people find it in their hearts to realise that when somebody asks for assistance, it is clearly because they cannot do it themselves, or else, they would. And as a service provider, it wouldn’t hurt to pretend you would like to assist.

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