Monday, October 29, 2007

T & T at your service

It's always interesting to hear what stands out most for people who are visiting Trinidad and Tobago for the first time. In my experience, most people say what stands out first/most is the green (the trees, the mountains, etc). However, lately, within the space of a fortnight, two first-timers have mentioned something to me about TT which all of us experience on a daily basis. It is everywhere and it is obviously glaring, even to visitors.

This unfortunate thread in the fabric of our nation is not garbage, it's not crime and it's not traffic.

The other day on the way down south, Katie and I were talking about Toronto and TT. I asked her what stood out as being different to her about TT as opposed to TO. Interestingly, she first mentioned the service. She said that whereas in Toronto you almost have to ask people to stop being nice to you, in TT she has been experiencing the opposite: women in shops staring at her with silent, sour faces as she requests assistance ... women in stores sticking to her and following her closely around the store even when she tells them she is just looking.

Recently one of the members of the French crew said to me: "Spec, is it normal when you go into a store that people are so unfriendly?" He proceeded to tell me that when he has been into stores, the attendants look sour and don't show much interest in his questions. In one case the woman didn't answer him at all when he spoke and after purchasing an item the cashier practically threw the money at him. (He illustrated with a sharp flick of the wrist as he spoke).

Perhaps those who live here are 'used' to this kind of 'service'. Most people brush it off and accept it as 'the norm' or explain it away with that cliché line that excuses anything unacceptable in this country: "Buh dis is Trinidad!"

1. Stick closely to customers and follow them around the store even when repeatedly asked not to
2. Have long, loud personal conversations, arguments or intimate love trysts on the phone while the customer waits indefinitely for you to attend to him/her
3. Stare at the customer with a sour or, at best, expressionless face when approached
4. Mumble incoherently when answering the customer's questions
5. Move slowly and reluctantly, emitting a long, loud, tired sigh when getting something for the customer
6. Remember that "I eh known nah" is a useful answer that can be applied to any question

These reasons and more are why when I do encounter good customer service I make sure and let the person know it.



Anonymous Shivonne said...

Yeah same here. When I get good service I am so thankful it probably scares the service person a bit. The worst: Pennywise! They stand there trying to ignore the fact that you're trying to get their attention. They act like they're doing you a huge favour by looking your way. What explains this? Poor management leading to disgruntled employees?

To give credit where it's due, check out Yarna's at the top of Henry Street in POS. Not only is the food yummy and reasonably priced, but they deal efficiently with lunchtime crowds and make your orders exactly how you want it in no time at all. Not very smiley but hey, this is Trinidad right.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Elspeth said...

I don't know if it's poor management leading to disgruntled employees. One reason could be rising food prices, rent, etc (cost of living) and salaries not being increased.

8:11 AM  

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