Is the customer always right?

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”?

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8 thoughts on “Is the customer always right?

  1. Minister Burgess’s comments were really quite stunningly bad. An appropriate response, from someone in his position and who claims to be concerned about negative impacts to international (and local) businesses would have been, “I would like to thank Mr. Ezekiel for raising this issue as I have not heard this concern from any of the larger insurance companies with whom I have recently met, however, I would welcome a meeting with him to go over his organisation’s in more detail….”
    His attitude is typical of someone who has never actually run a business themselves.
    Why does he think that companies here would voluntarity tell him that his government’s policies are making it attractive to offshore some parts (in this case the clerical, more admin type functions typically filled by Bermudians)of their operations? It’s not like there hasn’t been enough critisism of the policy in the print media over the last year. He is like Lord Nelson, putting the telescope to his blind eye and announcing ” I see no ships!”.

  2. If Minister Burgess is looking for indications of increased outsourcing of work, he should take a look at the number of Bermuda’s Hedge Fund Administration companies that have opened offices in Halifax, NS. over the past year or so.

  3. JJ, detz goud bye, eye meen goud..uv course your “just joking”….(JJ).
    Oh!? The Lord Nelson part…was that Nelson Bascombe? I lent him my rose coloured glasses the other day….the rest is history.

  4. The amazing thing is that I have been in meetings with both Mr Ezekiel and Min Burgess where such statements were made and supporting evidence was presented multiple times over the last 2 years…
    Amnesia is a wonderful thing…

  5. Burgess’ statement just reflects his union mentality and is unsurprising, if completely disappointing. He’s crazy if he thinks that a company will come directly to him and alert him that they are sending Bermudian-held jobs overseas or even for the chamber of commerce to do so, which would give him the opportunity to either have prepared spin, or head them off at the pass somehow through public criticism of some sort or just by saying bye-bye work permits and bye-bye good corporate citizenship status for the company in question.
    In any event, now that he does know about the issue, Burgess’ reaction is to stick his head in the sand and do nothing until someone from the industry gives him a phone call? That’s a very adult reaction. Wait, actually that’s deplorable and a complete dereliction of his duty to the Bermuda public.
    Will he only respond to issues that are sent to his office in triplicate on Egyptian papyrus and written in No. 2 pencil? Seriously, where is the leadership? People will stop talking to you Minister if they don’t feel you are a reasonable person. Someone in government needs to chew his backside and force a rethink in communication styles and in policy as well.

  6. My mouth dropped open when I saw the statements attributed to Derek Burgess. David Ezekiel has been a tireless ambassador for Bermuda and we are very privileged to have someone of his calibre alerting this Government about the pitfalls of their policies.
    However, what more (or less) can we expect from a man who when presiding over the BIU, did not deem it necessary to provide audited accounts to its members, was guilty of not providing a copy of the Berkeley ‘Bond’as required by the Auditor General and was personally responsible for calling a strike immediately following Hurricane Fabian.

  7. I’m just waiting for an exempted company with a significant physical presence here to say…”we are leaving’.
    I suppose Mr Burgess will say…”they should have phoned me”.
    Time to wake up and smell the coffee.
    My friend has just returned to the UK (of her own volition) after 9 years here. She tells me that Bermuda Forwarders ‘usually’ fill one container for the month, at this time of year.
    This August they filled 4.
    Worrying – very worrying – particularly as I doubt they were all permit refusals.

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