The 2018 Service Charge Bill was recently passed in the House of Assembly. I have already written an article on the bill when it was in draft form so I have very little to add about the bill. I will say this however, since everyone in the industry will be getting equal portions of the service charge then everyone has a part to play in providing exceptional service to the residents and guests of TCI. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us including the Government and the Opposition to promote the provision of good service by all residents in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is a major campaign that is needed for the critical success of our country.
I have visited many countries but the Bahamas is one country that really left a lasting impression on me in terms of the politeness and courteousness that I received. No matter who you are or where you are, the Bahamians greet with you with excellent manners.
I know as a little boy growing up on the island of South Caicos, it was part of our culture to greet everyone with a smile that that we came in contact with, and to also greet them with appropriate and relevant manners. Today in TCI while some of this service continues to take place, it is not consistent.
Our tourism industry continues to soar but we cannot take this industry lightly. Sometimes, the simple things in life can make you or break you. This article is to encourage all of us to get back to the basics by serving with a smile and greeting each other at all times with proper manners.
Treat Everyone the Same
Sometime, it depends on how you look, what you do and where you are from that determine the type of service you get. Everyone should be treated the same. This is something we must instill in our children at home, school and at church. Let us practice treating everyone the same so it becomes a part of us and it will be a natural thing to do going forward.
Do not develop Turks and Caicos into a status society whereby people are treated based on their status.
Serve with A Smile
We should always serve each other with a smile. Do you know the impact a smile can make in the lives of individuals?
I concluded that perhaps because we did not have much growing up and because we were desperate for an industry such as tourism to grow, we did everything with a smile. Now that some of us are making money or have more than what we had in the past, we are no longer desperate and so it reflects in our attitude towards each other.
Let us always smile from the moment someone enters the airport or the cruise terminal to when they leave. People have choices as to where to want to go for vacation. It is very competitive. Even though we have been voted #1 beach and island for many consecutive years, many other islands in the Caribbean are very similar to TCI with the same type of Beach. Do not take tourism lightly. It is a fragile industry. We must maintain or exceed what we have and one way to do so is to improve on our service. Smile when someone enters your restaurants. Smile when customers enter the grocery store. Smile always. Please do not fake the smile as people will know the difference between a fake smile and a sincere smile.
A sincere consistent smile can distinguish us from the rest of the Caribbean. People will want to come back because the impressions you left on them.
I know many of us complain about the level of service that we receive when we arrive at some of the airports in the USA. However, we cannot compare the USA to TCI. We need the USA tourists more than the USA needs us. Let us set the bar by serving with a smile.
Always greet with appropriate manners
Whenever you pass someone, a simple good morning, good afternoon or good evening should come out of our mouths. Not just to tourists but anyone that we come in contact with. Many times, we passed individuals without even saying good morning. We promote TCI as a high destination, then let us provide premium services.
Do regular checks up
When customers are in a restaurant, check on them after you serve them. When a guest checks in a hotel or condo, check on them to make sure everything is ok. When you have not seen or heard from your friends or family members, check on them.
Do not harass individuals
Do not harass individuals for your business or pleasure. Some of us even get upset if someone refuses to buy something from you. Some of us even go as far as verbally attacking the customer and telling them we do not need them. The truth is we do need them.
Do you know if you just smile and welcome someone to your business rather than harassing them, they may just end up getting something from you because of the service you provided?
Think about your actions. The only harassment you should do is to harass people with a smile and appropriate greetings.
Tourism Studies and Proper Etiquette should be part of the Curriculum in the Schools
Introduce Tourism and Proper Etiquette in our schools. I know it should also be the responsibility of parents but if we can get this in our school system, it will be a great start as some parents perhaps also need to be reminded. Therefore, if our children can get this back to basic message from young, then can practice it and share it with their parents and then hopefully it will become apart of the home.
Tourism is our main industry and so this should be a priority in our homes and educational systems. We can do all the marketing in the world to attract people to our shores but when they can get here, we must be able to also take care of them very well while they are here because they will go back and talk about the treatment they received. Sometimes guest receive some bad services but with the proper welcome during their stay, they may overlook the bad treatment and will forgo giving us a bad review.
I know that many hotels and other organizations such as the Tourist Board conduct customer service training. In fact, companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars on training but some of us still remain the same.
While I believe we should never discontinue training, but many times, it is our attitude that needs adjustment. Some of us really do not care or do not see the need to improve on the way we treat others. Treating people right should be a part of our personality. Some organizations may a mistake by recruiting the wrong staff. There is a particular restaurant I went to recently. The waitress did not welcome me. Her face was very sour. I had to raise my hand to get her attention to come to my table for my order.
Customers should not have to pay a service charge for any bad service they receive. Therefore, I encourage the hoteliers, restaurants, grocery stores and other establishments to implement a vigorous system on measuring the performance of the employees in the provision of services to guests. Based on the service charge bill, all guests will be charged a service charge and it will be shared equally among the staff. Employees must work to receive this. They should not treat guests or their employers anyway and automatically get a service charge at the end of the month. Service charge should be an incentive, not an entitlement.
All of us have a role to play in improving the service in our country. Let us start at home and make it become a part of our everyday life. We must be consistent and lead by example. We cannot be bragging about we are the friendliest people in the Caribbean but we are not living it. We cannot be telling people to smile when we ourselves are not doing it or we are only smiling with people we know. TCI, this message is for all of us that reside here, locals, expats, black and white. If we go back to the basics, oh what a difference our community will be!