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Barbados Uncensored

Beyond the News, Inside the Issues

NIS Earns First Customer Disservice Award

Sep 5, 2021

Last Updated on September 5, 2021 11:01 am by Editor

In this customer service roundup, we explain why we give the NIS a Disservice Award and the BWA (Barbados Water Authority) a third Disservice Award, for what can only be described as pure, undiluted stupidity!  

National Insurance Office

The NIS website invites persons entitled to an NIS pension to make their applications online. However, as the screwup in this case shows, the agency is not quite ready to serve customers online.

The client in question made an online application in the second week of March of this year with the expectation that the pension would be received in three months (in other words June) as the agency’s instructions imply. 

Noting that the site makes reference to an affidavit but that no related form or guidance could be found, the client asked for clarification in the application.

On emailing the application the client received an autoresponder which indicated in part:

We will provide you with a response within two business days from the date of your email.  However, if your matter is complex and we are unable to provide you with a complete response within that time, we will inform you of this. 

There was no contact of any kind from the agency within the two business days or thereafter.

In the first week of June, the client sent another email reminding the agency of the application and holding out the expectation that the pension would be received in the stipulated three months.

Again, the identical autoresponder.

In the early part of the last week in June, the client was finally able to reach the relevant department by phone only to be told the application had not been received!  The client then forwarded the application the same day.

In a follow-up conversation, the client was by chance put into contact with the head of customer service at the NIS. During the conversation it was intimated that the agency thought that it was doing very well by having an autoresponder!     

About a week later the client is sent, by “snail mail”,  a printed copy of the application, stamped with date of the initial conversation together with an affidavit form which the agency, in its wisdom, had not made available in the online application site.

The client promptly returned the affidavit the next day and deposited the documents in the drop box per instructions onsite.  To date the client has not been contacted to be advised when payment will be made.

Let’s critically assess the customer service performance  of this agency in this case.  The agency has failed on at least three points of customer service.

First, it has failed in its approach to communication.  The head of customer service thinks the NIS is doing well with an autoresponder.  At best, an autoresponder can only be regarded as a temporary and substitute method of communication in that it allows the organization to make a minimal response on a 24-7 basis. 

In this case, it is quite clear that response system was not set up properly by the personnel in charge. Presumably, this would be individuals from the IT department.  

Since the system is supposed to receive documents and not just a message, it appears that no provision was made for forwarding the attachment in the email to a pensions department operative.  Alternatively, or additionally, the appropriate operatives may not have been advised and prepared for such electronic activity.   

Barbados Uncensored is very much aware that there have been other cases of lost data, for example, employee earnings submitted electronically by employers. 

Communication is the glue that holds all the other elements of customer service together. Therefore, the NIS has to get its act together with regard to the vital matter of communication.   

The second customer service failure is that the NIS is showing, by its procedures, that it is still welded at the hip to the time consuming, hard-copy, face-to-face regime of doing business, despite having an online presence.  

Failure to make greater use of the online procedures means that it is not doing enough to reduce face-to-face contact which, in the current environment, can increase the spread of covid-19.

Moreover, it is not helping very much with the process of greening. Face-to-face contact and the submission of hard copies both necessitate travelling which increases carbon emissions.

The third customer service issue is the failure of the NIS to fast-track the client’s application so that payment could be received as close as possible to the three-month lead period set by the NIS itself. It was not the client’s fault that the NIS lost the online application. 

Again, it should be noted that to date the agency has not had the decency to contact the client and indicate when the pension might be received.  One wonders, therefore, whether the NIS is committed to online facilitation of it services or is just window dressing. 

In any event, we sincerely hope that the client has an alternative “lifeline”, for clearly, it cannot depend on that of the NIS, despite its boast of being, “More than a contribution; its your lifeline” 

Barbados Water Authority

We have been moved to issue two previous customer disservice  awards to the BWA. The articles can be seen here and here.

We are issuing a third disservice award because the BWA has committed the ultimate idiocy by sending mail to a  construction site where the building is basically at foundation stage.  Apparently this lunacy happened not once but twice.

According to the client: “Once is a mistake but twice? No!”

Barbados Uncensored understands that the client had submitted a current address in addition to the location of the construction site in the application for a connection.  

In our first article on the BWA, we noted that the agency does not have an application form for new connections! One has to write a letter of application which means that client would have had to state his current address.  

Therefore, a clerk or customer service agent with a modicum of common sense should have sent the mail to the client’s current address. However, such common sense is either extinct at the BWA or has been outlawed there!

After this trilogy of stupidity at the BWA we are left wondering: Is the BWA ripe for privatization?  

Post Office

In this matter, the post office is also at fault because its operative ought to have known that such mail should have been treated as “not-deliverable” and returned to the sender, namely  the Barbados Water Authority. This is the view of a supervisor at the district post office responsible for the delivery.  

Barbados Uncensored has limited its disclosure of details here because of the cooperativeness of the district supervisor in question.  However, that “post-person” ought to have known better and ought to be highly reprimanded, if not fired. 

Epilogue

After mulling over these and a few other customer service breakdowns we have witnessed ourselves, we at Barbados Uncensored are wondering whether there is any connection between the level of common-sense being displayed in customer service and the progress of the covid-19 pandemic. So we are asking:

As the covid-19 pandemic wears on, will we see increased instances of customer service stupidity?

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By Editor

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