PM says major employer threatening to close over lack of customer service skills

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He did not name the company but Prime Minister Gaston Browne has revealed that the lack of compassion by employees may cause a major employer here to shut its doors.

The prime minister said, principals of the company visited him on Friday and indicated that they were thinking of closing within a month.

“They indicated to us that they may have to close very shortly within 30 days which could see a few hundred people losing their work,” Browne told Pointe FM.

He said the development is  “very unfortunate” and said he tried to get the employer to stay by offering concessions.

“I even went as far as calling the landlord who they pay about $100,00 in rent and ask him to cut his rent to 50 per cent down to 50 thousand and the landlord agreed right in their presence, in order to salvage the business.”

Browne said the main problem being faced by the company is how the staff treat customers.

“Whereas our people are very skilled…they reckon that the soft skills are very weak,” he said.

“When I speak to soft skills, I am referring to the emotional empathy, the kind of civility that is needed on the job.

“They communicate well in terms of speaking English but the way they communicate with people is a problem,” Browne lamented.

He said the issue needs to be tackled nationally especially in the service sector.

Browne said customer service skills are becoming increasingly valuable “which unfortunately are not deeply embedded in our culture.”

The prime minister says the issue needs to be tackled on all fronts, particularly among the youth.

“Even within our society, some people go to work and refuse to say good morning to their peers.”

Browne says hotels are also complaining and customer service and that he was prepared to lead by example.

 

 

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Antiguans don’t like to work and feel entitled.

    If they work it at less than 50%.

    The sad truth.

    • U cant be fuc^&#@%ing serious anyway could be a foreigner behind the text so let me just leave that

  2. Although not enough information was not given to understand what is required of workers, the key issues here are basic courtesy and compassion. Before the owners blame Antiguans as TOTALLY lacking in these skills, they must take responsibility for UNDER TRAINING our people. Properly trsined employers will know what is required.
    I really don’t believe their story. Obviously, this business is Mega in revenues. Being able to pay $100,000 a month in rent is “mind boggling”, to say the least. Could this nonsense be just a ruse to move to “cheaper pastures”?
    The Call Centre business is extremely competitive. In fact, doing business in Jamaica is 30% to 40% less and Belize, 60%. Eventually, many Call Centres may slip out of Antigua, one by one, as more affordable accomodations and concessions are presented.
    We have to always question or investigate the complaints and claims made by companies which could all be based on ulterior motives…

  3. I do not believe this employer. If common courtesy and compassion are absent, then the workers were improperly trained. The blame falls squarely on the business owners.
    Obviously, this is a huge business as it is able to pay $1.2M annually in rental fees only.
    The Call Centre business is extremely competitive. Doing the same business in Jamaica costs 30% to 40% less abd 60% in Belize. One by one…as cheaper accomodations and more concessions are offered overseas, companies will migrate.
    The PM is trying to save the business, but his efforts will be furtile if they have ulterior motives. “Lack of compassion” does not rise to the level of closing down such a huge organization. How difficult it is to re-train our people? I am just not convinced that this is the real or sole reason to close the business.
    Where are the recordings between customer and the CSR? Where are the complaints from customers? Where is the evidence to fix that “problem”?
    Until this information is provided snd corroborated, l would not agree to besmirch the conversational techniques of the Antiguan workers.

  4. Bull crap never heard so much bull shitin my life …..so u willing to give away more and small businesses is suffering …

  5. Hi Mr. P.M Browne,
    Customer Service is not taught in schools. We do P.O.B (Principles of Business), P.O.A (Principles of Accounts) but how to handle or understanding Customer Services is not grasping to us unless someone you know attend one of the various technical classes like Mind Your Business Seminars, NDF or visit the Facebook page group Customer Service Antigua to learn from various posters feedbacks when they visit or call a business and YouTube if we really going that extra length when we prefer to watch music videos. Can you ask the Mins. Of Education to let practical skills be taught in schools starting from Primary School? One good example selling Lemonade in lemonade stands in Primary Schools, the students play both role as the employee, employer and the customer. In secondary schools where we do the accounting practicals for SBA, I think it should go beyond just showing us how to balance a book.
    Thanks Sir.

  6. I’m Antiguan by birth but have lived most if my life in the U. S.A and when i visit it’s a culture shock in terms if customer service with very few exceptions. Most employees have no manners, especially the younger ones. They don’t smile and speak pleasantly to customers instead choosing to be downright aggressive, belligerent, offensive and rude. Come on Antigua. We can do better than that. Being humble is a strength -not a weakness.

    • You are so right cause I’ve been to numerous business here and the customer service is so poor. You ask questions and it like you are begging them for service they are providing and live off. I was told once at a Lime I am not obligated to sell you anything just because I Top Up my phone and never got my credit, just went back to ask what happen. How rude, and on top of that they don’t care because as they say I’m still getting paid and if they don’t like how I work they can fire me. Then they say the business it’s not the business is the people that don’t care because it’s not their business. Most Antiguans are very lazy and ignorant people and I am half Antiguan but had the chance to live in the states and other countries. Customer Service is what moves the business not money, cause u can have money and still fail cause you have no customer service skills. Scream and talking down on a person doesn’t, you have to care for your employee so they can care for uour customer. This is a give and take thing.

      • You work there and should not say anything,You should thank God with the experience you got help you to get that job, lucky for you your current employers never ask how you were. You of most person went into being a Supervisor there and had no skill to motivate ,train or help your agents and was always at the bottom for the site, your interest was mostly smoking and never helping us and still got paid. Yes as you say the employees needed to be care for but you never did also.Talking about us Antiguans lazy you no different and you always calling sick but waiting on payday like a hawk,you do not want me to continue…….

  7. Mr. Pm La Toya Wallace can train the workers to excel in delivering exceptional customer service…both internal and external.

  8. This has been the root of the problem from forever due mainly to a lack of training. Employers also need to do their part and develop incentives for staff that go the extra mile to deliver consistent customer service. My advice would be to develop a major customer service campaign to include seminars, corporate community programs, get the stakeholders to be involved in the training as well. The idea is to change the mindsets of the masses and it will not happen ovetnight. Because as a man thinks in his heart so is he in his words and actions. Our people needs help to be a more caring society and it will start with the right type of training and incentives programs.

  9. The Sad Truth! Customer Service is lacking. I am dissappointed daily at the way I am treated when I go to a business to spend my money. Oh and this also extends to some restaurants… they are downright not friendly and welcoming!

  10. Translation – I will do business in Antigua and take all the benefits Antigua can afforded me but I cannot offer a thing to ANTIGUANS !, not even training in customer service.
    Therefore give me the green light to be here, pay next to no tax and only hire foreigners (who generally accept less since things are often cheaper in their country that they love and will one day retire to).
    Well Done COMPANYNOLOVEFORANTIGUANS !!!

  11. Yes, it’s great if a company can provide training. But deeply set cultural norms are difficult to erode. I went to a popular supermarket yesterday and no one was in the express line which is unusual. So I started to question if the young lady at the counter was even working as she was on her phone and took so long to even look up and acknowledge me. People here just rude, dismissive and don’t care. Some cannot even properly attire themselves for work and parents should also take responsibility for instilling these skills.

  12. The work ethic is this country is a disgrace to the nations pride!
    There is no accountability from the top down and that is the real issue.
    Employees have no sense of responsibility and no committment to doing a good job at what they do. They are not punctual. They are not pleasant nor welcoming, they do not care whether you return to their shop, restaurant or whatever. You need to stand in line a half day to bank, pay a bill or resolve an issue and no one cares. Even the bank managers do not look up at the angry customers waiting in lines for hours and apologize or explain why after so many years they still cannot get it right. They just do not care!! Just spend a day trying to pay your APUA bills, do some banking and go to Inland Revenue and you will see it all in a failing, non functioning operation where no one cares about the customer!!

  13. I work at a call center here in the US as a supervisor. Yes some of these callers will push your buttons to the max, and yes I am human, so when am personally attacked I get a bit off in attitude, but I have to remember that I am there to do my job to the best of my ability, which includes being empathetic, listening, keeping calm etc. Some of these people call in while being under immense stress for one reason or another. They will take it out on you…. believe that. They don’t care who gets it. BUT, in our line of business, we have to keep it together and look at every possible avenue to help and give recommendations to solve their issues.

    Some of them call in and they get paid once a month, the bill is high, they want credits and you can’t help them in your department, their relative just died, they are going through divorce, their relative is sick etc etc. Even if they can’t pay, a kind word makes a difference by the time the call ends. Some of them ranting they can’t pay, if you take control of the call and explain things to them, you may be able to get that payment.

    It’s not about I am in control and what I say goes. NO! We have to be mindful that if these people don’t have the service, we don’t have a job. I have MetroPCS cell and when I called to say I cannot get through paying my bill online, I got a CSR who is based in Antigua who gave me excellent service. She understood, she could not help by waiving the payment fee and she sensed I was irritated but she kept calm and we ended up having a great conversation.

  14. But PM it starts from the head of the nation go right down.

    How can you lambaste reporters and parliamentary colleagues on the other side or else where for that matter of fact, if they query your actions and you take that your words and actions back to the ones questioning you will fall just to the earth. Come on big man, know and expect that your attitudes and words will emanate to others especially the young. Don’t only blame the home and school, blame also the environment of the nation and its leaders too.

    That is why some religious organizations do not allow any and everybody unto their podiums. A good guide line for allowing AND preventing any and everybody to be a nation’s leader, so as to not have egotistical and non-bridal mouths to stand and say any and everything they think that they ought to.

    Bite your tongue.

  15. At the end of the day we as a people generally are “entitled” without giving much.

    I can attest to the fact that no matter how much you do for some employees in Antigua you hardy and barely get anything back with few exceptions. Those exceptions generally carry the weight of the business along with the owners and sometimes but not all the time management who may fall in to the employee category. In terms of foreigners they appear to manifest more pride in their work. For us it is just the almighty dollar and nothing more.

    It is a cultural problem and it will not get any better until it is faced squarely in the face. It will not get any better by hating foreigners or persons perceived as foreigners. For my part I now prefer to keep my money in the bank rather than sacrifice and invest. Trust me when I tell you that is the sad commentary on life in Antigua and Barbuda; which leads me to the related customer service issue.

    Our public persona and what we project publicly is getting better in a lot of ways because of the training given in the work environment but the ” cultural norms” to borrow a phrase from a contributor above still militate against us in most circumstances giving good customer service. If you have a customer who is not happy then the other side comes out; it’s the customer’s fault; she is rude so I can be rude back, a who she tink she be? The cutting of the eyes and the sucking of the teeth. This is something the best of training will struggle against ie lack of basic house training coupled with the acceptance of this kind of behaviour at all levels of society.

    My two cents…

  16. Everyone is not trainable. It makes no sense companies spend umpteen amount of monies to train folks when in truth and in fact, the same attitude remains.

  17. I Dont this customer service is the issue is believe this story has a lot more that they are not speaking of.

  18. I refuse to believe it’s ONLY customer service…..

    I vacation home and I tell you man these ppl act like your begging them..

    Their facial expressions n body language makes you feel your business is bothering them….
    No hi no welcome nothing ….
    They prefer to watch you and down…ALSO THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES are worst …the runaround is EPIC…

    WHEN YOU CORRECT THEM THEY TELL WELL TAP AMERICA THEN….

    HOW ILLITERATE CAN YOU BE…..

    SAD BUT ITS TRUE ANTIGUANS CUSTOMER SERVICE NOT ALL BUT MOST IS NON EXISTENT

  19. this story has alot more to it. all yall commenting about customer service in antigua, have yall ever been a CSR. do u how much stress it is to sit down there and take badwords and being called a bitch? I signed up to help fix issues not take verbal abuse, and u have to still take it with a smile and apologize the pay is almost nothing, when people get paid rent and kids have to be dealt with you dnt have nothing left, the supervisors dnt make it easier for nobody but their friends.. yall need to no whats going on in the place before yall talk about it.

  20. I do understand that customers are rude sometime s but as an employee you have to find a way to still be professional. I totally believe this story. As an Antiguan living abroad when I go back to visit I’m totally embarrassed because people are downright rude and it could be a simple question and to make it worse there is no one to complain to because the supervisor or manager in a lot of cases is the same. Someone made the point that it starts at the top and the Prime Minister should look at the way he communicates and responds to the media or anyone who questions his actions.
    I still love my country to heart.

  21. i work up there and from the meeting there getting the job done other place else for next to nothing the said the had see that there was not making money over a year now

  22. when yall don t no nothing don t say nothing i work there an that surely not the reason why were closing down people be jumping to there own conclusion an spreading all kinda rumors

  23. Have most of you ever been trained in Customer Service? Do you know that they trained us do you know that we are given test at the end of every week then a big one at the end of training do you know once your given that certificate it shows you know what you have learned. Have most of you that commenting the rubbish ever been a CSR over the phone? Do you know what it feels like when their customer want to tell you what they feel and then expect you to help them. Do you that when the other agents from other sites provide sloppy information we are the ones 99% of the time have to clean up their mess. Your not in their you don’t know so STFU. Do you know other companies in Antigua have begged us to train their workers in that same Customer Service why do you think that is because we provide the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE. We will forever have that training. So it’s not everything you read you need to run with. Gosh typical people. Proud CUSTOMER SERVICE WORKER WITH EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE COMPANY IN ANTIGUA. with a disappointed pay but I do it because I love it and I enjoy what I do. Am a miss my NCO fam……PEACE

  24. I dont buy the BS. A few years back Antigua was flooded with many gaming operations, off shore banks, etc. One of the reason they choose Antigua was because of the clarity of our English and the customer service. Other islands offered cheaper operational cost but their interest was here. I must add the staff were decently paid and well trained. So what has happened since to prevent our people from becomimg trained?

    When you greet someone and smile, tbeir natural recently is usually to smile as well. Every action causes a reaction. There is a call center on island that is runned like a jungle, staff are paid minimal wages and are cursed with indecent languages and the like manner. Will these be happy agents on meager salaries?

    Some of the comments on here speaks of customer service in the USA. I really would not use the USA as example of good customer service.

    I did understand the PMs position to try holding jobs using some incentives. However, thise incentives to the business will not improve customer service unless the plan is to use the savings to offer training. Also, please check the staff turnover rate to see if they are using experienced staff or 3 week rotations, that is very important and will show the problem within the organization.

    • NO ONE SHOULD COMMENT ON CUSTOMER SERVICE TRAINING , UNLESS YOU’RE TRAINED IN CUSTOMER SERVICE .

  25. this is the real reason why they are closing down and its not about finance or customer service “http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/alorica-sets-up-to-triple-its-size-in-jamaica/”
    alorica has other plans to save them alot of cash

  26. when yall go abroad to live and come back its like yall forget where yall are from Antigua living abroad

  27. You work there and should not say anything,You should thank God with the experience you got help you to get that job, lucky for you your current employers never ask how you were. You of most person went into being a Supervisor there and had no skill to motivate ,train or help your agents and was always at the bottom for the site, your interest was mostly smoking and never helping us and still got paid. Yes as you say the employees needed to be care for but you never did also.Talking about us Antiguans lazy you no different and you always calling sick but waiting on payday like a hawk,you do not want me to continue…….

  28. I know the prime minister is not talking about customer service in the private sector. Has anyone walked into ANY GOVERMENT AGENCY LATELY TO GET ANYTHING DONE?!? This country is special I tell u

  29. To all the people who work at the company in question and chose to comment, please bear the following in mind:
    “It is better to be thought of as a fool than to open ur mouth and dispell all doubt.”

    There is no such thing as customer service in Antigua! Cuss the customer service?! Heck yeah! Thats our specialty.

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