June 30, 2017

Customs and Excise Department awarded best customer service

The Customs and Excise Department was last Friday awarded for being the department with the best customer service in the Public Service as part of the Public Service week of activities.

Second place went to the Immigration Department and third to the Treasury Department. These awards came, following a panel discussion at the Peace Memorial Hall to conclude the activities which ran from June 19-23, 2017, under the theme: ‘Accelerating Innovative Citizen Centered Approaches for Improved Service Delivery’.

Friday’s ceremony comprised remarks by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and director of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) Apollo Knights, along with a panel discussion on the topic ‘Accelerated Innovation in the Public Service’.

While making her presentation, panelist and deputy executive director of the National Insurance Services (NIS) Dr Mineva Glasgow noted that customers are at the core of business success and the greatest source of competitive advantage.

She added, “And if they are satisfied then this would redound to the benefit of the public service in terms of greater productivity and greater service delivery.”

Glasgow said she is fully cognizant of the fact that customer satisfaction or its variations have become one of the clichés of management presentations, mission statements and annual reports throughout the world, along with concepts such as empowerment and team working.

“It expresses the view that people are at the heart of the organization, but very often the people that you are trying to propel as a centerpiece become cynical.”

Glasgow, who has been the deputy executive director at the NIS for the past 16 years, said in the field of innovation, customer satisfaction is of central importance and that is why the NIS places value on both its external and internal customers.

During his presentation, panelist Bentley Browne, a development planner with over 25 years experience as a public sector planner and as a consultant to various development agencies, said today citizens expect more transparent, accessible and responsive services from the public sector and although they are not static, they are rising.

He said recently, Government made certain initiatives to improve service delivery through various strategies and interventions, but there’s an increasing section of the population which is disgruntled.

“Many citizens raised the question of whether the public sector is doing the right thing, which entails delivery of services consistent with the needs and requirements of citizens and secondly, if they are doing things in a correct way,” said Browne.

“It is high time we let citizens tell us what matters most to them; we cannot feel that because we may have experts within the public service, we know everything, we need to consult people and we need to develop and implement policies, programmes and projects with people.”

Browne said going forward, the public sector should carry out more citizens’ means assessment surveys, to be able to prioritize needs.

“We would make mistakes as humans, but the idea is not necessarily to hide the mistakes, but to let us be open and frank and show how we are going to improve on the mistakes we have made.”

Other panelists in the discussion were Brian Glasgow of KPMG Eastern Caribbean, Nathaniel Williams, former permanent secretary and Edmond Jackson, Budget director and acting director general of finance.