- The Government has placed priority on its transformation, particularly its accessibility, convenience, ease of use, and responsiveness.
- Taxpayer Education Officer at Tax Administration Jamaica (JAJ), May Pen Tax Office, Joe-Ann Gooden-Smith has earned the 2012/2013 agent of the year award for her division.
- Before her recent promotion to the post of Taxpayer Education Officer, as part of her daily duties, Mrs. Gooden-Smith was required to respond to incoming calls on the first ring.
Recognising the critical role which the public sector must play in the development and growth of the economy, the Government has placed priority on its transformation, particularly its accessibility, convenience, ease of use, and responsiveness.
“To transform the public sector, you have to make it more responsive to the service that it gives to the public. We have the skills in the service, and we must get to work, and make sure that we transform Jamaica to make it a place to do business easily,”says Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Hon. Horace Dalley.
Taxpayer Education Officer at Tax Administration Jamaica (JAJ), May Pen Tax Office, Joe-Ann Gooden-Smith, has taken up this charge, with her dedication to friendly, efficient service, which earned her the 2012/2013 agent of the year award for her division.
“I was very excited about that. It showed how hard I worked at excelling and exceeding the customers’ expectations,” she tells JIS News.
Before her recent promotion to the post of Taxpayer Education Officer, as part of her daily duties, Mrs. Gooden-Smith was required to respond to incoming calls on the first ring, as well as address customer query via email and Facebook.
Recognising the customer as the most important person to the Ministry, Agency or Department, Mrs. Gooden-Smith knows how important it is to reflect and reinforce that ideal, particularly when dealing with a difficult customer.
“Being a good listener is very important, and apologising for any inconvenience experienced by the customer, assists in calming him or her,” she says.
Mrs. Gooden-Smith also acknowledges the virtue of patience and understanding, and ultimately finding ways to resolve challenging needs and concerns.
Driven by her commitment to efficient service, the Customer Care Agent is not afraid to ask for help, in seeking to satisfy these needs, or to take a particular concern or query to her superiors.
This has helped her to transition into being a Taxpayer Education Officer, a position she was awarded in January of this year.
“My knowledge of tax laws have been broadened being a customer care agent…I’m also aware of many of the products and services offered by Tax Administration,which I am now able to assist persons with on a one-to one-basis,” she explains.
Mrs. Gooden-Smith says she is on a mission to exceed, not just the expectations of her customers, but also her employer, by providing exemplary customer service.
The public servant’s fervor has not gone unnoticed, as Manager, Taieice Smith, has taken stock of her positive approach to service.
“It’s easy to work with her because she is so mature. She is reliable and she is one of those persons who work well on her own initiative. You need to have a passion forhelping persons, and great listening skills, because sometimes persons call you, and they are not sure what they really want to ask; so you have to hear beyond the normal words that they are saying,” she notes.
Team leader of E-business and Senior Agent, Wendy Lawrence, tells JIS News that Mrs. Gooden-Smith is a pleasure to work with, as she is always willing to assist.
“If you’re working in the public sector, you need persons who are very co-operative, you need persons who are very tolerant, and you need persons who are accommodating. You also want persons who are always willing to listen to you and you always want persons to go the extra mile to assist you,” she adds.
Acting Senior Agent, Inbound Team, Tatika Fisher, also attests to Mrs. Gooden-Smith’s willingness to assist, noting that this attitude helps to motivate the other agents.
She emphasises the importance of this willingness to resolve issues in the public sector. “They (public servants) need to be patient, they also need to betolerant….professionally friendly…you need to have some level of empathy,” she adds.
The Senior Agent also asserts that it is important for those providing the service to be familiar with what is being offered.
“Self-sacrificing,” is one way that another colleague, Customer Care Agent, Brittany Whyte, describes Mrs. Gooden- Smith, adding that she is positive, optimistic and cheerful.
As the Government continues to roll out its reform programme across the sector,Mrs. Gooden-Smith, like many other civil servants, and the public, express a desire to see the public sector become one that is world class in its delivery of products and services.
Public sector modernisation under the principle, ‘Government at your service’,forms part of a strategic approach to strengthen the capabilities and output of service, and bring it in line with today’s needs. The reforms focus on the areas of: improved customer service, new organisational forms, strengthening policy capacity, and reducing waste.
The overarching objectives are to improve accountability and transparency,improve access to, and provide better quality services, and the appropriate use of technology to bring government closer to the people.
As set out in a Ministry Paper titled: ‘Strategy for Restructuring the Public Sector’, the rationalisation of the public sector “will demand a radical restructuring of established organizations and systems, including a review of their mandates and related objectives, introduction of incentives, development of an accountability framework, decentralization of authority and rationalization of the organizational culture”.
In January, 2014, the Public Sector Modernisation Division and the Public Sector Transformation Unit were amalgamated and placed under the purview of the Director General of Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation, in the Cabinet Office,Veniece Pottinger-Scott.