When considering our island as a business, how imperative is it that we do the most we possibly can to address concerns raised by our customers so we can ensure their continued patronage? Recently, concerns were raised by a prominent member of our international business community that our term limit policy is having negative effects. These concerns were allayed in a less than ideal manner by our Labour Minister. His words have raised the question of whether we take the best approach to addressing the concerns of our customers and ultimately brings us to question whether there is truth in that old adage “the customer is always right”.
Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) Chairman David Ezekiel recently made claims in the Royal Gazette that the term limit policy is forcing many international business companies to consider relocating jobs off island and that less skilled jobs, primarily filled by Bermudians, will go with them. Labour Minister Burgess contests these claims by suggesting that there has been no evidence of such and no one has come to the immigration Ministry to claim foul with regards to the policy.
What is concerning of Minister Burgess’ claims is that he feels it is the obligation of the international business community to come to him. When asked if he had reached out to speak with Mr. Ezekiel following claims in the newspaper, Minister Burgess suggested he hadn’t, saying “Mr. Ezekiel has my phone number” and that “if he has concerns he can call us”. “We are in charge and we know what’s happening” claims Burgess, suggesting that he has met with two of the largest international business companies on the island who had nothing to say with regards to offshoring and any difficulties with the term limit policy.
However, can the opinions of just two companies be taken to represent the whole? Mr. Ezekiel is making a number of substantial claims and, as Chairman of an association of companies, those claims must be recognized as representative of the greater body of companies that he represents, otherwise he would not be Chairman. Should there be concern for how Minister Burgess’ chooses to frame his remarks and in the attitude displayed? Is the Ministry truly “in charge” and should businesses be expected to call upon them rather than the other way around?
Do these positions indicate an absence of an understanding of common customer relations principles? Indeed, are those in the international business community not our customers our island not much like a business? Minister Burgess has suggested that the government recognizes that nothing must be done to jeopardize the continuing success of business in Bermuda but do his words suggest otherwise?
What would occur in the operations of a successful privately owned business where customer satisfaction is held to high regard? If the “the customer comes first” approach is a good one to ensure that the business continues to achieve success among it’s patrons, is it one we should be striving for with the services we provide? If a private business were to have a customer, or worse, a group of customers, come out and publicly claim that service was poor, would a punitive response be “they’ve got our number”? Would a better and more proactive action be to immediately take steps to address their concerns?
Always remembering that our island is a business serving the international community, were the steps undertaken by our Labour Minister prudent in addressing the concerns raised by our customers? How should we be recognizing and treating our international business community with regards to their concerns. Should it be one of a proactive approach where we approach them or should they be required to contact us? Is there any merit to that old adage that suggests “the customer is always right”?