The Barbados Port Inc. (BPI), in collaboration with its South American sister port, Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT), hosted a best practices in Customer Service Workshop for employees from across the organization. Approximately 32 BPI employees participated in the four-hour workshop, held at the Cave Hill School of Business, UWI.
Presentations were made by Freida Nicholls, Port Marketing Specialist and former BPI Market Development and PR Manager, Gina Johnson from the MIT Claims and Process Department, and CEO of the National Initiative for Service Excellence Inc. (NISE) Kim Tudor. There were also interactive group exercises, as well as staff presentations.
Johnson gave participants an interesting insight into the customer services initiatives at MIT in Panama, one of the world’s largest privately-held terminal operators. With terminals located all over the world including Columbia, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam, Johnson explained MIT was always trying to be innovative with their customer service – “We keep the customer in mind with everything we do”, she said.
Johnson also emphasised the importance of businesses having a strong relationship with customers. “The employees are the ones that contribute to customer satisfaction and from what I have seen, I can say Barbados Port Inc. is on the right track and are moving in the right direction,” she said.
She said that although MIT is highly technologically-based, “we have found that technology does not replace people because, at the end of the day, you need people to work and monitor the technology. There is a need for continuing adjustment, retooling, and training for staff,” she said.
NISE’s Kim Tudor presented the results of the BPI Customer Service Surveys (Personal Effects and Cargo Operations), and explained some of the drivers of customer satisfaction to the group. She showed that NISE’s results had identified the most important customer service areas for the Port are performance and reliability. “It’s essential to manage your customer expectations, as well as raise the level of your service, so that you can improve your overall customer satisfaction,” she suggested.
The group activities included exercises on customer service improvement, with employees asked to analyse current BPI operations, identify areas for improvement, and offer achievable customer service solutions. These discussions provided useful insights on issues such as staff attitude and professionalism, BPI internal culture, increased training needs, and the need for closer engagement with Customs to deliver a better service to customers.
When speaking about her presentation on ‘Customer Service Initiatives at the Barbados Port Inc.’, Frieda Nicholls stated, “The key thing here is encouraging staff to look at customer service from a different perspective and to focus on competitive customer service delivery”. Nicholls echoed the sentiments of the day when she said, “BPI needs to identify its customer service gaps and put the appropriate measures in place to improve it.”
The workshop was given a positive review by all participants. The information collected on the day is to be used to help address the BPI’s customer service delivery and provide a platform for continuous improvement into the future.