Melissa Davy has taken the plunge into what she believes is a decisive phase of her career as a professional in the services sector. Fifteen years as an employee of Scotia Bank, many of which were spent in what the commercial banking system would call its frontline, customer service, has, she believes, equipped her to offer her expertise to a wider clientele.
From the particular vantage point of Scotia’s over-the-counter customers, Davy, it seemed, had become one of the bank’s most highly visible ‘go-to’ employees in circumstances where challenging situations arose. It is no secret that transacting business in local commercial banks is frequently an emotionally taxing experience and Leonard says that, increasingly, raising its customer service profile had become one of Scotia’s high priorities.
During an interview with Stabroek Business earlier this week, she conceded that she had benefited both from serving customers in one of the country’s high-profile banks as well as receiving feedback from customers about her ‘manner,’ her sincerity and her commitment to meeting their needs. Banks, she says, can throw up a range of customer service-related issues. It is, she said, about empathizing with people and their particular concerns.
Her departure from Scotia Bank, apart from marking a definitive turning point in her professional life, is also the start of what she believes is a compelling journey to where she really wants to go.
There is an overwhelming persuasiveness about her assertion that customer service is her ‘calling’ and there is nothing that appears contrived about her animation, her keenness to jump in at the deep end as a customer service professional.
She has already immersed herself in the challenge of creating change, taking on customer service assignments in institutions like the University of Guyana and providing motivational presentations at empowerment seminars offered by the local Miss World Organization. A critical dimension to the service that she offers is that of carefully monitoring both the short-term and the longer-term outcomes.
Davy says that there are psychological elements to the creation of a convivial customer service environment. “Many people actually want to do a good job but really do not understand their role,” she says.
It is, she says, often a question, of raising employees’ levels of competence to the point where they feel confident about the delivering the services that they provide. Understanding your role in the wider objective of the organization is an essential prerequisite to providing effective customer service, she says.
Her concern is not only for high-profile institutions wishing to raise their customer service standards but also with high street trading institutions, snackettes, small businesses which, hitherto, may well have been indifferent to the link between good customer service and profitability. “Many times,” she says, “the link between the quality of service and the bottom line is not made.”
A combination of her own experiences with customers and her research has led her to the conclusion that there is a critical nexus between the social and emotional condition of service providers and the quality of service that they provide. She points out, for example, that young, inexperienced and in some instances undereducated and financially challenged employees in the services sector often have little motivation to provide good customer service. That, she says, is an area that requires probing.
She believes that her experience in the banking sector where, she says, myriad challenges can arise, can be applied across the board. She says the customer service as a discipline can be better appreciated if the correct linkages are made between higher quality service and achieving the goals of the organization.
People are sometimes so preoccupied with the bottom line that they tend to lose focus on the means by which they get there, she says.