Caribbean: The Captains of Industry Have Failed Us – By Adrian Loveridge

From the Adrian Loveridge Column – Barbados

Take one, if not our largest, food wholesale and retail distribution entities as an example. (Here he is talking about Massy Stores in Barbados)

If they only had spent a fraction of the millions ploughed into installing new brand signage and  instead created and managed an online website/e-business platform where people could select, order and pay for basic essentials from the safety of their own homes and have those items delivered in controlled circumstances. Such a move certainly would have helped protect employment, both for the company and its suppliers.         

On reflection, hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, but I ponder just how many individuals and companies are kicking themselves, for not implementing supplemental trading measures while they had the opportunity and available funding?

I have also been frankly amazed at the lack of response from major utility and service suppliers, well before lockdown, even when addressing repeated personal emails to their senior managers including managing directors. For some reason, the majority of them feel they have no obligation to respond, even when reasonable requests are made.

Equally you can attempt to contact employees at lower levels or follow the instructions on certain online or printed bills, stating ‘to share a compliment or make a query, email us at’, only to discover that address is not functional and has not been for some considerable period.

Like so many businesses, we are faced with the extreme challenge of having no anticipated earned income from which we can pay our monthly obligations.  So the natural and sensible path to take is to reach out early, to our service providers and hopefully offset or mitigate those imminent upcoming charges.

Our banks appear equally indifferent.

Yes, some may have deferred principal payments, but monthly and other charges have remained the same, despite severely reduced or the provision of non-existent services. Well before the crisis, we had given up expecting a local branch manager or employee to return voicemail or email messages, either at all, or in a timely manner.

The only remaining option is to hang-on to the telephone for an indefinite period, hoping to speak to someone that can first understand and then resolve even minor banking queries in less than two hours, usually from a remote ‘customer-care’ location in Jamaica, Latin America or God knows where.

During the prolonged Coronavirus crisis, hopefully the directors of these entities will spend a little of their newly acquired enforced leisure time in self-isolation, reflecting exactly how they intend to do business in the future, so there will be marked improvement, as and when, our economy recovers.

Poor and unacceptable customer service seems to have become rife among many of our commercial organisations and one is only left to assume that this has been accepted as the ‘norm’ by those at the highest level.

The current crisis has left many consumers with the available time to seek out and implement better working alternatives and who will be loathed to return to a sea of trading mediocrity and previous compromise.

Let us use this opportunity to bounce back with an improved way of conducting business.

Clearly, some of our captains of industry can do a great deal better.

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