Officers of the public sector, and the entities they represent, are working to improve their customer service delivery as they once again vie for top prizes in the biennial Public Sector Customer Service Competition.
Implemented in 1994, the competition is part of the National Customer Service Programme under the Public Sector Modernisation Division (PSMD), in the Office of the Cabinet. It is designed to recognise and reward the efforts of organisations to improve service-delivery to customers and to promote and encourage commitment to, and continuous improvement in the quality of service to the public.
Consultant at the PSMD, Fabian Brown, says that voting is now underway as the public determines which entity and individual gave them the best service for the period under review. The deadline for receipt of all nominations is January 31, 2013.
“A number of persons are vying, so we are asking the public to look out and be reminded that there are posters in most if not all the entities across Jamaica that promotes the National Public Sector Customer Service Competition,” Mr. Brown told JIS News during a recent Think Tank session.
He is urging the public to participate in the process and vote for the entity or individual of their choice by using the toll free line 1-888-991-2752 or by voting online at www.cabinet.gov.jm. Customers can also place entry forms in voting boxes available at the various entities. Nominations are not restricted to the entity at which persons are doing business.
Additionally, he says, entities are being encouraged to place competition posters, nomination forms and boxes in conspicuous areas in their customer interface areas, so that customers will be informed about the competition and be encouraged to vote.
The National Housing Trust (NHT) is the current holder of the Prime Minister’s Trophy and $300,000 cash prize for being judged the Best Customer Service Entity in the 2010/11 competition, and staff member, Dennis Simpson, was named Best Customer Service Officer, the main individual prize in the competition.
Manager, Customer Care at the NHT, Donnetta Russell, says her organisation is consistently building a culture of excellence in customer service. “In doing so, we use our internal programme as a driver to what happens in terms of the public voting for us,” she explains.
While being careful not to divulge the company’s strategy for this year’s competition, she informs that after the official launch event, the NHT had an internal launch where it established its own objectives for once again taking the top prize.
“We usually come up with a slogan which means a lot to us and which also means a lot to the citizens that we serve. Having gotten that message, we build an entire programme around it and we encourage participation,” she discloses.
As part of its internal reward and recognition programme, the person nominated by the public as the Best Customer Service Officer, is given an opportunity to act in a senior position for a day.
The manager expresses appreciation for the competition, noting that it is a motivator for the entire staff. “We never sit idly and think we are an obvious winner, that is never our attitude, we consider the competition very healthy,” she states.
“If there are improvements based on the competition it redounds to the benefit of the entire nation and so we consider the competition not only to be healthy but we see it as a medium through which we could experience improvement in the delivery of customer service island-wide,” she explains.
In the meantime, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), is also going for the top prize. The entity won the Cabinet Secretary’s Trophy along with a cash prize of $200,000 in the last competition.
Director of Customer Service at PICA, Stephanie Gordon, says the agency’s approach to winning is centered on making its services more accessible to customers while at the same time remaining economically viable. Among the improvements at PICA was the expansion of its services and a new turn-around time for the processing of passports.
“We came up with a plan to provide a mobile service to our customers. Of course, we have customers all across Jamaica and they were only able to access our service in Kingston or Montego Bay,” she informs.
She says that PICA was able to take its mobile service to customers at various entities and at community fairs held island-wide. “We built on that and we have improved in terms of implementing an expedited service,” Ms. Gordon informs.
She says PICA is aiming to become “a world class entity” in terms of customer service focusing also on clients outside of Jamaica. “We are constantly working at improving those services in reducing our turn-around times and ensuring that information is readily accessible to persons outside of Jamaica,” she adds.
Another executive agency, the National Land Agency (NLA), was the 2009 winner. It also received the Most Creative/ Innovative Entity Award in 2010/11.
The NLA’s Manager of Business Services, Lori-Ann Thompson, describes the competition as being good for the development of the public sector.
“What it has done is improve the level of customer service because every two years we are looking for ways to improve our service so that we can be seen. That fact alone has really moved the bar for customer service in the public sector,” she said, while commending the organisers for hosting the competition.
Highlighting one of the Agency’s initiatives, Miss Thompson says the new online interactive map of Jamaica called iMap Jamaica, allows persons to go online and identify any parcel of land in Jamaica and access related land information free of cost.
Over the past two years, she says, the NLA has been focusing heavily on staff welfare and development, noting that some of the new products and services have come from customers and staff members.