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By Carlena Knight

Government’s Chief Training Officer, Dr Miguelle Christopher, has highlighted the importance of maintaining good customer service practices in the country.

Yesterday, as the global observation of Customer Service Week came to a close, Dr Christopher – during an interview on state media — said that some growth has been made on that front, but a lot more than can be focused on rather than just “a smile”.

“Look at customer service as more than just the smiles. Look at customer service more as responding to the needs of the client. So, if customer service is about responding to the need of the client, it means we, as service providers, have to be more sensitive to what it is the client really wants. Sometimes, we make an assumption that they just want a smile, but it is about using all of the methods to figure out what it is that this person really wants and what is it that this person really needs and responding to that need,” Christopher said.

She believes that in order for the customer service aspect in the country to improve that individuals in these occupations need to have more pride and see the value in their jobs.

She is of the opinion that because some persons do not take their jobs seriously, then not much effort is given or focused on executing proper customer service skills.

“I have found over the years in doing this that a lot of persons in the public service don’t understand the importance of their role in the development of Antigua and Barbuda, and if we could get public sector employees to see themselves as having key roles no matter the job; not necessarily because you are the cleaner, or because you are a clerk, or permanent secretary, you all have an important role to play and if we could look at ourselves like that, then, it changes the way in which we view the work that we do and gradually you will see the change in that culture in terms of how we do what we do,” she explained.

Regarding training during the Covid-19 pandemic, the top official shared that they have been forced to take a number of their training sessions virtually and are now even looking at a blended approach rather than their usual face to face weekly sessions which would hold up to 25 persons at a given time.

She also hinted to staying in the virtual realm even after the pandemic would have passed. This she says will need to be assessed on a grander scale as many of the facilitators themselves would need training on how to conduct online classes.

“That’s the direction in which we have to go until Covid-19 disappears and even then, I suspect that we will be having a higher percentage of our training and development initiatives being done online, but it is about ensuring that the resources are available, the access to the internet, the availability of dedicated computers for training. It is ensuring that the facilitators are trained to do virtual training because it is completely different and it’s not a simple process of just saying ‘well I used to do this as a face to face, I’ll just share my slide’; it doesn’t work like that. It is training facilitators to do virtual training as well, so a lot of work that needs to be done if it is virtual that we are going to be going,” the senior official said.

Christopher added that it’s imperative that her department continues to provide training to individuals and businesses, as it will help to improve the quality and work culture in Antigua and Barbuda.

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