Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Barbados
2011 Week of Excellence
Engagement, Empowerment and Effective Results:
Getting Employees and Employers to Deliver Excellent Customer Care
February 21, 2011
The Central Bank of Barbados is again pleased to participate in this Week of Excellence which has been a collaborative effort of the Social Partners since 2003. The Bank’s continued participation in this initiative reflects our belief that the success of national efforts to improve service delivery is essential to the long-term growth prospects for the Barbadian economy and will contribute immeasurably to enabling the Bank to achieve its mandate of fostering a stable macroeconomic environment.
In its outlook for 2011, the Bank forecast a moderate recovery in economic activity for 2011. This expected outcome is based on the sustained recovery in the economies of our major trading partners. However, we must not lose sight of the reality that, as we emerge from the economic downturn created by the global financial crisis, sustained growth requires us to intensify our efforts to raise national productivity and enhance the competitiveness of all sectors in the economy. In this regard, enhancements to the quality of service delivery and customer care in both the private and public sectors are crucial elements of this renewed thrust towards improved competitiveness.
The findings of a recent survey carried out by the National Initiative for Service Excellence on service excellence in a sample of public sector institutions were quite revealing. As might be expected, there were significant differences in the ratings of individual institutions. However, there were also substantial differences also within organizations on the quality of service delivery. The latter observation is quite worrying because our institutions cannot truly deliver an overall high quality service if they do not function as integrated teams working towards the same objective.
I am sure that the nature of these findings is not limited to the public sector. Unfortunately, the truth is that we often brand institutions by the quality of service we receive. Thus, having good quality technicians at the service delivery level may not benefit a firm if there is a problem at the point of first customer contact. The customer may never get to enjoy that customer service or care!
There is often a temptation to blame customer- facing staff for poor customer service. This seminar with its emphasis on engagement and empowerment serves as an important reminder that improved customer care is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Indeed, the Governor of this Bank in a recent speech to the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) argued
“The key to productivity is the full engagement of the producers in what is delivered. That level of commitment will be forthcoming only when the worker is fully persuaded of the objectives of the firm or unit, and fully comfortable with their role in the execution of those objectives. The manager’s task is to persuade everyone to come on board, to internalise the group objectives, and to work together with the team to bring those objectives to fruition.”
In this scenario, management has responsibility for creating the type of atmosphere and leadership that will inspire employees to perform at exceptional levels. Communication becomes a key factor in the employment relationship, beginning with the communicating of the corporate vision and strategic targets and objectives; in essence the expected results. It is only when employees know the strategic focus and direction that they are able to commit, align, and marshal their efforts and performances to deliver the expected results.
In the Central Bank itself, we recognise that acts of engaging and empowering employees are essential to our vision of excellence as an institution, where we will be able to deliver high quality services in a timely and consistent fashion to our internal and external constituencies. We are of the view that achieving our objective requires the fostering of a culture of service delivery across the entire organisation in which those dealing with the Bank have a good experience whomever they encounter, from the Governor to the receptionist. We are acutely aware that the standards we aspire to will not be reached overnight. However, we believe it is a journey worth pursuing and wish to recommend it to you.
If we can all in our individual spheres engage and empower our staff in meaningful ways commensurate with their capabilities, we will eventually begin to see the benefits reflected in increased motivation, greater efficiency and improved productivity. We wish therefore that once this week is over, everyone in the public and private sectors, employers and employees, can work to improve levels of customer service, work to improve personal and organisational efficiency and work to improve productivity.
If we can get that commitment, there can be no doubt as to the benefits of this annual seminar.