Notifications
Clear all

Customer Service

 
MillsC
(@MillsC)
Active Member

I have only been on the island (St. Thomas) for a couple of weeks but I've noticed the terrible customer service! Coming from the South (Louisiana), I have never seen such a thing! Is it that I'm accustom to Southern Hospitality? Or are the locals really this rude! I hate to seem whiny but I'm at my limit with this!

Frustrated Southerner! Thanks Y'all! 🙂

Quote
Topic starter Posted : September 30, 2011 12:22 pm
Effone
(@Effone)
Advanced Member

Hi MillsC and welcome to the Board and STT!

"Customer Service" is a misnomer here. I also felt the same way when I arrived. It seems until your face becomes known by the people you encounter you'll be treated as not really being a permanent resident. And when you become "known", the customer experience will generally improve, but will overall still lag far behind what you're accustomed/expecting.

It seems "Customer Service" here is seen as more of bending to the will of the customer; or "giving in" to what the customer wants, which goes counter to both the mainland definition and the personality of many people here. I've tried to have my company bring in a customer service training organization I am familiar with, but this has been seen as an unnecessary expense "just to make people happy". Odd thinking but it's something I've come to accept here. You'll see references to customer service practices and pledges, but don't mistake this for again, what you're accustomed.

We have a small, territorial island grouping here which is proud to be left pretty much alone by the mainland (except for the tourist-thing). With that comes the differences between the two (be it good or bad).

You'll get used to it after awhile and when you encounter a level of service meeting the mainland "standard", will be pleasantly surprised.

(The above is just my opinion, so please no flaming... 🙂 ).

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 1:05 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

There is a learning curve but eventually you get it. Start with a greeting and a smile, ask a question and offer a small compliment, comment on the weather, then start doing business in a relaxed non-confrontational way, watch some locals. After a while everything will be cool. Remember, you are in paradise. Just temper your expectations.

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 1:16 pm
Ronnie
(@ronnie)
Trusted Member

Just remember to say good morning, good afternoon and goo night. This gets you in the door. Unfortunately some take it as an affront as to not proceed properly until you are addressing them properly.
I get it myself, for instance, as I am at the airport greeting my hotel guests, people walk up to me and ask me a question without even a hello. This is a turn off. I answer the question then politely tell them that people here prefer an icebreaker before they even answer a question. Once you get the hang of it it should be okay. But also on the other hand I cuss some who lack the skills to work where they do due to poor customer service!!

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 1:47 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

Hi MillsC, and welcome. As a fellow southerner, I'll tell you, you will probably never get truly used to it. Just have to accept it, if you want to live here. Usually it's just aloofness or nonchalance, but sometimes it is downright RUDE.

A real pet peeve of mine is when some customer service person cops an attitude when you say good morning and it happens to be 2 minutes after 12:00. That's just RUDE!!

My husband said good morning to the bank teller the other day. Apparently she didn't hear him (he was NOT speaking softly.). She then said good morning. Hubby, thinking she was answering him, did not respond with another good morning. Another attitude!! She very brusquely said again, good morning. Hub was taken aback by her forceful greeting and just said good morning again. He wasn't even sure what had happened until he was walking away. I mean, really!!! That's taking it a bit too far. He was the customer, after all. As much as he's in that bank, she should be calling him by name (without looking), not to mention THANK YOU, and wishing him a pleasant day.

And don't think everyone adheres to the "good..." Try a pleasant smile and good morning with a Kmart checker, and see what you get!

Something else.....once you know this, it will help. Information is seldom offered without being asked for, specifically. For instance, you might ask, in a grocery, what aisle is the ...coffee (anything). The employee will probably tell you aisle 5. So....off you go to aisle 5, up and down, looking for coffee. When you go back and tell the employee you can find any coffee, they will tell you it's "finished". You didn't ask if there was any coffee, you asked what was the coffee aisle....How do you argue with that? Don't bother!!

Now, obviously, not EVERY customer service employee acts that way, but when it happens, it's just one of those...oh well...and like Effone said, when you do encounter good service, you will be very pleased.

You have to not take it personally, and you'll be fine. It will get better, either because people do get used to seeing you or you just accept it. Welcome!!:-)

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 3:31 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Hi Mills! Welcome to St Thomas and vinow!!:D I hope we are friendly.

When people talk about how wonderful diversity is in the VI, I sometimes think of things like customer service, domestic violence, and a few other "cultural" realities and think maybe diversity isn't so hot. I think southerners do better than most. Once you learn to smile and say "Goo night!" (LOL Ronnie!!) you will see that you are miles ahead. And if you get down, walk into Chelsea Drug Store in Red Hook and see that there is someone on this rock who has been able to figure out the training part of customer service!!

As an aside, kindness is something that is learned at home in the very early years. When you watch some parents and their very young offspring, you will see why customer service is an ongoing topic. BTW, before anyone bashes me, I do not think this is the case with all Virgin Islanders, but a small subset that calls attention to itself.

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

I wonder if this is more a age issue than a VI issue. Last time I was in the states I was appalled at the attitude of some of the younger people in the service industry. When I spend $100 at a grocery, is it too much to expect the cashier to stop her conversation with another employee and pay attention to ME!!

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 9:49 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

it is mostly normal to NOT get good customer service. Its just what it is. Sometimes when you get familiar to people they are nicer.
I find it interesting that it is the custom to say good morning etc. But good grief, you better be the first to say it or you get big attitude. if it is so much the custom, shouldn't it be said by the locals first so as to teach us the custom.
on stx you do find good customer service, just takes patience.

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 30, 2011 9:49 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

I wonder if this is more a age issue than a VI issue. Last time I was in the states I was appalled at the attitude of some of the younger people in the service industry. When I spend $100 at a grocery, is it too much to expect the cashier to stop her conversation with another employee and pay attention to ME!!

I don't think it's an age issue. There are plenty of grocery stores in the states with young cashiers who are all smiles and very friendly. I've even had some give me little tips, like the fact that the yogurt I'm buying tastes just as good in a cheaper brand. 🙂

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 2:31 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

I will NEVER forget an experience in Marina Market on St. Thomas years ago. The young lady checker had earphones in, listening to whatever. Obviously the good morning greeting was lost on "deaf" ears...She rang up the groceries, and then tapped the register screen with her finger, to indicate how much we owed. Not a word spoken!!!

I also remember telling my husband, as we were preparing to move from St. Thomas (after 12 years) to St. Croix that if the people on STX were not any nicer than the people on STT, I was leaving....going back to the states. Had ENOUGH!!!

Well, after my first encounter, at Publix, Golden Rock, I came out of the store practically giddy....telling hubby "The check out lady talked to me!!!!!...like a real person."

There's good and bad on all the islands, as well as in the states, but really, we do seem to have way more than our share of bad! 🙁

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 3:17 pm
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

i will assume that this item is about caribbean people of color within the service industry so that some of what i say makes sense...

i find that people who provide lousy service to you also provide the same to people who also look like them that are strangers to them. this is definitely something that comes from instruction, and i believe that it begins in the home. however, i hold management responsible for expecting certain things from staff. that lack of attention also leads to less efficiency and lack of focus as well. people who take jobs must engage themselves, that should be a requirement.

i also find that those who are paid the least and thrown onto the front lines, are not invested in and once trained there is no monitoring or follow up for compliance. if you are a business owner and don't have time for it, then you get what you are paying for. anything is possible, but if we all just come to expect it, that is exactly what we will all get.

our hr director and our boss spend time in interviewing, and check personality and attitude, because we cannot afford to have any slacker or any bad attitude, our livelihoods depend on it.

where i work, every employee is of caribbean extraction except for myself, the boss and her son, and we set the standard for excellent service as far as i am concerned. my team has my back, and we never mistreat a guest, owner or vendor. we are tops!

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 6:05 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

Oops...I said Publix (wonder where my mind was....) Pueblo, Golden Rock. By the way, they have a couple of ladies, probably well over 55 years old, that are always very, very pleasant. Too bad the stores isn't as nice!

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 6:36 pm
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

In my experience, the "attitude problem" is mostly with the local young women working menial jobs. By contrast, many of the young women I know from classes at UVI are nice. I've also learned to accept a certain lack of eye contact by young women here as the cultural norm and not misinterpret it.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 8:43 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

Lack of eye contact is something I noticed when I first arrived. As someone who was always being told "look at me when you're talking to me" by my mother when I was a kid, the cultural difference took some getting used to. Here, looking someone in the eye is seen as somewhat confrontational.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 10:12 pm
poorthang
(@poorthang)
Advanced Member

Hey Mills! Just pretend your going thru Labor......Breath slowly.......Breath slooooooowly...........Yell at your husband shut up! and breath .........NOW PUSH !!!!!:D " Your doing great" now let's start again"..............

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 1, 2011 10:28 pm
margaritagirl
(@margaritagirl)
Trusted Member

Friday, went to Plaza West, I was at the yogurt isle and a young lady was filling the shelves. I said Good afternoon to her, she looked at me so I said hi, how are you? She just looked at me and said nothing and went about filling the shelves. I ended up taking a couple yogurts off the shelf so she sucked her teeth and went over and put new ones in that spot. At that point I just laughed at her. I'm sure she didn't like that. I did have a really nice checker.

Another story, WAPA went out on Saturday. I called WAPA and the girl that answered was very pleasant. WAPA came within 2 hours to fix the power, I couldn't believe it. Soon as they fixed the fuse the phone rang, it was the woman I spoke to earlier asking if my power was on.
WOW! what a great day!

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 3, 2011 12:49 pm
stxnama
(@stxnama)
Advanced Member

Good Morning Margaritagirl!

There is a young woman who often seems to be in the dairy aisle at Plaza West. She does not speak but I did find out from another worker that she is deaf and speaks to no one. I don't think her intent is rudeness. I find most of the workers there to be very friendly and helpful.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 3, 2011 2:27 pm
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
Trusted Member

i will assume that this item is about caribbean people of color within the service industry so that some of what i say makes sense...

i find that people who provide lousy service to you also provide the same to people who also look like them that are strangers to them. this is definitely something that comes from instruction, and i believe that it begins in the home. however, i hold management responsible for expecting certain things from staff. that lack of attention also leads to less efficiency and lack of focus as well. people who take jobs must engage themselves, that should be a requirement.

i also find that those who are paid the least and thrown onto the front lines, are not invested in and once trained there is no monitoring or follow up for compliance. if you are a business owner and don't have time for it, then you get what you are paying for. anything is possible, but if we all just come to expect it, that is exactly what we will all get.

I agree with you Anita.

I've seen a couple help wanted ads for Pueblo cashiers and one of the requirements was "friendly". Made my friend and I laugh.

It's hit and miss with cashiers or customer service reps /managers at stores-return or exchange items. I've had very good experiences and some don't even acknnowledge you even if you greet them properly. Sometimes it looks like they are are overwhelmed. (Not an excuse)
I actually saw a customer service rep in Kmart country crying because of the way the customers were treating her. I felt so bad for her. She is so nice.

Management is the problem. They either don't train their employees properly to be friendly to customers or if they do, it just goes by the waist side. And management just don't seem to care. They must just be happy they have a worker behind the register.

I go to Pueblo in Subbase pretty regularly. There is a front man, who I assume is a manager of some sort and he always greets me. If I don't see my favorite cashiers working and I have to go another, it is a hit & miss experience. Same at Pueblo in Long Bay.

When my friend was looking for shoes in Kmart town and didn't have their size, the shoe dept. asst. went to storage to look for the size. And we didn't even ask! I have had the same experiences when there are sale items not on shelves. I asked if there are any more. Then person working that area will go looking in inventory to find the item. Sometimes I will even get rainchecks from the manager if I ask or not, even if the sale page says "no rainchecks".

I was buying ginger beer at Cost u Less late, late one night and it rang up it new price, which wasn't. labled on the shelf. The manager realized it, gave it to me at the old price and even suggested to me buy another case before he puts up the new price. Now that was nice! Something I didn't even think of.

I usually go shopping with a friend and if we can't find something at PriceSmart and if either one asks where the item is, sometimes they might just tell us or even bring us right to it if we didn't find it.

If the person doesn't acknowledge me and I'm with a friend, we just go on talking and ignore the cashier. Then we will even say as we walking away how rude they were, within earshot.

But then sometimes I/we have conversations with them.

I do know that the cashiers at Cost u Less stand/work for hours without a break. That would make me miserable.

I don't use the banks or post office much so really can't say, but like I said before it is hit or miss.

My best friend & I are getting up in age and we noticed the younger generation don't seem to have manners. We will greet them and get nothing. But sometimes they greet us even before we get to open our mouths. lol

I have a car, but it was being serviced, so I had to use the safari. These middle school children were acting up & cussing. Well did they get yell at by a couple older locals. The teens listened. And they went on, if they ever acted that way they would get a lashing by their parents back in the days.

Sorry if I was rambling 🙂

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 3, 2011 4:39 pm
margaritagirl
(@margaritagirl)
Trusted Member

Good morning Stxnama,
This girl can definitely hear and she can speak. I knew she heard me because she looked at me when I spoke to her. Believe me, I thought about her not being able to talk until I did see her talking to another employee who was stocking the cheese that I came back for.
Oh well.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 4, 2011 1:47 pm
gparrot
(@gparrot)
Advanced Member

I go to the post office on St. John frequently... The first couple of times I said Good Morning or Good Afternoon...and she ignored me...then one day I said Good Afternoon...and she did not respond again...so I looked her in the eye and said You must be having a horrible day...this caught her off guard and she said no not really....she realized that I wasn't going to ignore her not responding....and from then on she has been very friendly...sometimes I think that locals think it doesn't matter if they respond or not....if you are persistent and continue to address them every time you see them...then they eventually know that you are genuine in your greeting.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 4, 2011 4:00 pm
Nannerz
(@Nannerz)
Advanced Member

Its not just young people and its not localized to just people of Caribbean descent. Some of the worst, repeatedly bad customer service experiences I have had is with the rude older ladies at Red Hook Mail Center. Not going to get into the details, but places that offer a service that is needed , often give bad customer service because "where else are you going to go?"

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 5, 2011 10:47 am
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
Trusted Member

Not even going to get into details with the owner of Soap Opera? Laundromat across from Nisky Center. I went somewhere else. & she not from here. Statesider-older woman. A lot other laundromats on island. Always have Help Wanted sign up. That should tell you something!

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 5, 2011 5:56 pm
Close Menu