Saturday, 30 August 2014

Productivity and Growth in Jamaica (Part 1)

Of late I have been taking note of some customer experiences I have been receiving from various enterprises in the private and public sectors. I come to realize that not all customer service delivery is created equally and that some are more equal than some. Let me share my experiences with you. I went to the tax office to purchase an Examiner’s fee, I left the car documents thinking that if I had my driver’s license with my Tax Registration Number (TRN) it should easy for them to access my car information. To my surprise the counter clerk said she needed to see the car papers. Of course, anyone who knows me expects that I am gonna ask why. She simply just responded with “sir, I need to see the documents”, and in the most un-entertaining manner. I lapped my tail and went back to office to fetch them so she could see them. On my way back I started thinking about the experience and I realized the government monopoly on tax collection. That meant whether the counter clerk answered or not, only one place will collect that examiner’s fee. I cannot go anywhere else to do that business. She was not going to ask “how may I help you today?” with a view of stepping outside the system design of the established process, she couldn't care to.

I brought back the documents and she glanced at it and gave it back to me. I paid the fee, she punched in some keys, printer started to run, I got the receipt, and I was out of there. I walked twice back and forth for what could have been a single journey just so that the government of Jamaica could collect the revenue they so badly needed at the first opportunity.

Later that day, I went to the bank to cancel a manager’s check because it had a payee error. When I telephoned the customer service center I was told that I would have to return to the branch I bought the check. I decided I was gonna go to a branch near me to see if it could be done otherwise anyway. I explained the situation to the customer service representative at the bank. She was quite helpful; she was able to reissue a new check and fix the problem without me having to return to the original issuing bank. I paid twice for that check to be reissued and the bank made more revenue from the contact with me and they saved me what could otherwise be a $4000 journey back to the original issuing bank. Can you imagine how happy I was? This felt like a value creation moment.

How do these two stories of my experiences relate?

Tax Office
Process Driven
Revenue Driven
Punitive Base
Incentive Base
Service Focus
Experience Focus
Value Destroyer
Value Creator
Know Employee Reference
Know Your Customer Reference

The tax office employee gets no bonus for revenue collected unless pursuing delinquent tax payers on one hand, but on the other hand, the bank employee gets a bonus from the revenue collected at the end of the year so long as the bank makes a profit. The tax office employee look for the opportunity to make it difficult for you to conduct business with them, and the bank employee makes it seamless to do business.

There is almost no place in the public sector that you can go and get what you need in less than two weeks, and if you want it any sooner you may have to pay a penalty fee for wanting the service any faster. In the private sector immediate service delivery is what is preferred and if you have to wait, the two weeks wait time is regrettably long for both parties.

Simple mindset changes to the public sector functionaries could see meaningful productivity and growth differences in Jamaica. Leveraging the use of technology can easily equalize the public and private sectors and allow for a healthy partnership to move the Jamaica forward.

Feel free to comment and ask question.