Fixing the spokes for better service delivery

BY: Doreen Hammond
The writer
The writer

It is universally acknowledged that an efficient service delivery is one area through which nations can accelerate their development.

It is also an area that has the potential to boost tourism.

This is especially true in our contemporary times where most customers are discerning and demand the best of services. For instance, countries such as Switzerland , Israel and several others in the developed world do not have any appreciable stock of natural resources but are making it big through efficient service delivery.

Unfortunately in Ghana, it appears some of the spokes in the wheel of our service delivery are faulty and need an overhaul. For instance, it is now a given that before any service, one has to pay something. While accepting that it is nice for a lady or gentleman to show appreciation if a service is well executed, this is different from when people adopt all manner of tricks to keep your change.

Three of such service delivery spokes that need immediate overhaul are the waiters in our catering industry, receptionists at our public institutions and shop attendants.

On my way from Kumasi recently in the company of four others, we stopped by a restaurant to have a meal and break the monotony of the journey.

As we ushered ourselves to seats, I noticed one of the waitresses behind the bar counter-dancing to the music in the restaurant as she sang along. Our entrance did not make a difference to her. Apparently, she was expecting another waitress to come and attend to us.

Eventually, the other waitress approached our table and then the drama began. She appeared with a paper and pen in hand but insisted on taking our orders “individually”. She would take one order, go and deliver, and come for the next. This she did as we waited until all five of us were served, never minding that three of us were eating the same dish. I asked her why she wouldn’t write all the orders to save us time and her response was that she would be confused if she did! I found that extremely ridiculous but that was how it went! I wondered how the situation would have been for us if the restaurant had more customers that day!

 But for the fact that we were hungry and not sure where else to locate the next restaurant, we would have left. Getting cutlery, soap and even toothpick all required some effort. As if this was not frustrating enough, getting our bill also became a huge task. Apparently, her mathematics teacher died very early in her academic life.

 As we rejoined our vehicle to continue our journey even without a comment on our experience, we knew that it would be our first and last visit to that restaurant! Yet, this restaurant is touted to be one of the best on that route.

The situation is not any better with most of our receptionists at public places. Yet, the receptionist is the first port of call for many people, including investors, and any negative image created definitely has an enduring effect. Enter a corporate institution to conduct business and you will wonder why that person is sitting behind the front desk as a receptionist. While some of them cannot help to give you directions to the relevant officer you need to see or the necessary procedures, others are only interested in giving you a seat at the reception. But how comfortable can one be as a visitor if he doesn’t know what he or she is sitting down to wait for? In some cases, receptionists are more interested in watching television, offering items for sale, redoing their make-up or chatting on social media than attending to the customer.  

Similarly, in shops , the attendants won’t just let you be! As if you cannot have the freedom to push your own cart and buy at your own pace, they insist on following you, causing some discomfort.  If the customer is okay with that, fine, but why insist on carrying the basket and following the customer if she is not happy with that? The other extreme is shop attendants who do not care a hoot whether you have entered the shop or not and whether you choose to spend your money there or not.
Elsewhere, it is the responsibility of shop attendants to coax you to spend cash.

We need those in the above services and perhaps a lot more others to change their lackadaisical and unprofessional attitude. Training and re-training, especially for receptionists, waiters and shop attendants will help. These are a few but very critical things in our service industry that we need to redress even while we seek investors and visitors to our tourist destinations in the country. Failure to do this will only make and our much-trumpeted call of Ghana as a gateway remain a pipe dream.

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