Immigration customer service still found wanting

| 19/09/2012

immigration office_8.jpg(CNS): Although an independent survey conducted for the immigration department has revealed an overall improvement in the performance in many areas of the critical government department since the last survey three years ago, customer service at immigration was still found wanting. In this latest survey 30% of respondents said staff did not treat them with dignity and respect at the Immigration Centre at Elgin Avenue. In 2012, customers also indicated a lower satisfaction level with the efficiency of the number system, with 64% satisfied compared to 73% in 2009. 43% also said they were dissatisfied when asked if they received efficient resolution during their visit to the department.

The survey of over 150 clients, conducted by Deloitte, which used five Key Performance Indicators — value for service, customer service, responsiveness, knowledge and confidentiality — has just been published and revealed that there are still some areas of weakness in the knowledge of staff across the department.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said, however, that measures have already been put in place to strengthen this area.

The service area with the most improvement in customer satisfaction levels since 2009 was the Work Permit Board, the survey found, which had significant improvements in all the performance areas assessed. There were also improvements in the responsiveness and knowledge of staff dealing with Temporary Work Permit and Business Visitor’s Permit, as well as the response and flexibility of the Business Staffing Plan Board. Customer service also improved at the passport and corporate services. 

“I’m especially happy to see that the survey found that our clients identified greater improvements in our responsiveness and customer service, as well as significantly improved confidentiality,” said CIO Linda Evans. “This is exactly what we have been working to achieve.”

Three years ago, the results provided feedback on key areas, and identified weak spots – such as customer service, turnaround times, and the officers’ knowledge base. 

“While the 2009 results were not encouraging, we used them as the basis to assist in developing a new strategic plan to address areas of concern,” she added. “Internally, we have introduced the Department’s Training Unit, which has developed a comprehensive training programme with emphasis on developing the knowledge-base.”

This has already made a positive impact on service, she said, but the officials recognize there is still room for improvement. Revised forms and checklists have provided clarity on the respective boards’ requirements for applications and allowed for a consistent approach.

“Another major focus has been on alleviating ‘bottlenecks’ which hamper efficiency,” Evans said. “As a result, we have made reconfigurations to the workflow in the IMSS database and this has assisted in reducing turnaround times.”

Notable improvement have also been made to the  internal complaints policy, which has allowed staff to learn from their mistakes, then make corrective actions and improvements going forward, the immigration boss added. New offerings which have been welcomed by the business community include Immigration Online and the emailing of approvals for work permit and licenses once the decision is made. The online service allows client access to their employee records within the immigration database, reducing their reliance on staff to provide updates on the status of their applications.

“This progress is the result of the staff’s hard work, innovativeness and dedication, and a focussed and dedicated approach to change-management,” the CIO said. “Measures implemented over the past three years have included a renewed focus on utilizing technology in our business processes.”

Evans said that confidentiality has also improved significantly overall; but there was still room for improvement. The most notable negative area was the issue of individual officers’ lack of knowledge.

“This rating is not entirely unexpected, however, as we have over 160 staff working in 10 specialised sections,” she added. The report also identifies improvement needed at the Immigration Counter, where customer service, responsiveness, flexibility and knowledge of staff are an issue.

The 88-page survey document lists feedback from clients and compares the results to the 2009 survey findings. Even though this year’s results are much more pleasing, the management and staff have stated that they remain committed to realising further enhancements.

See the full survey here.

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Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are reasons why things are done the way they are at immigration the front line are not impowred to do anything but follow the rules eg if a work permit is aprroved subject to something (bloodwork or english test) by the BOARDS the work permit can not be stamped. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Immigration bosses should offer their Elgin Ave staff a donut each day and then you will see more than 4 counters open at one time and speed things along!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Immigration don't respond to correspondence either regarding some very serious issues relating to individuals whose work permits have expired yet turn a blind eye to do anything about it, if my work permit was revoked I'm pretty sure I'd be deported in no time.

    • Anonymous says:

      True, I'm also still waiting for them to take action against one employer who regularly makes false declarations on WP applications and that situation was originally reported when Franz was still SIO.

      Guess the guy involved has friends in the department? 

      • Anonymous says:

        The only way they get to be an employee there is to have friends in the dept.  Its definitely not becasue of skill or experiance.  Its the reason they don't have to show any skill or experiance to keep the job.  Caymankind.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Over the past three years I have been through the PR, naturalisation and status process and then the same for my wife and kids. At every stage I have had to produce the same evidence of immigration status even though they must have all of this on record. Classic example of red tape and keeping people in a job shuffling paper! Can we not drag the department into the modern age

  5. I Care says:

    It is a fact that Customer Service within all government departments/ Authorities/ etc lack customer service, Not just Immigration although they really do have a big problem. First all government workes forget they are SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE PAID BY THE PEOPLE>>>>> simple. if they would remember this fact more often I do beleive things would improve. Yes they have powers by law and during their duty this does not mean they are above all. Remember this people, MOST of government/ civil servantshave only high school level eductation , only a few out of the 3,000 plus have higher standard of education which does relfect interaction/service level. It simple you get what you pay for.

    Traning is alos lacking in all departmets in government, they try but fail terrible at it. Just for the records I am Caymanian, and I worked for government and I too had a complex problem, I left and went off for higher education and experience other cultures etc, i was one of the lucky ones. I urge any young caymanian to travel and explore educate themselves .

    All said we do have a perty good civil service but needs improving

     

    I care

  6. Anonymous says:

    They should do what any successful private company does.  Fire those who can not do the job (especially customer service) and keep replaceing them until you have a crew that actually does the work well and treats your customers with respect.  There should be lots of younger Caymanians more qualified and courteous who would love to do the job.  Is it true they can't be fired becasue they are family to some "honorable" person?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am a born Caymanian andalthough it irks me to hear these comments I have to be honest and agree that customer service is a foreign concept on this island.  I have travelled extensively and lived in the US and Europe and the worse customer service I have experience sadly is here in Cayman but its not just Caymanians its across the board.  Whats worse is having to deal with someone that cannot even speak English. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    It would be remise of me not to also mention Mr Rodney Parchment. He is a very professional and courteous employee at Immigration. I dont know what his position is but he is very knowledgeable and conducts himself in a very professional manner. He never seems to be on a high like some folks there. I would agree anyday that he should be at least Ms Lindas assistant.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think the girl at the window in the CINICO office at the airport takes the award for the most rude, unhelpful, ignorant, unfriendly person of any department. She has  NO people skills at all yet she still keeps that job where she is the first contact for the customer!! Really baffals me how she keeps it.  But then that seems to be par for the course in Government.  I actually think Immigration downtown don't do too bad especially if you get one or two of the older lady's who are very polite & freindly. Can't say the same about the younger new ones though.

  10. PR fee says:

     

    Here is s simple suggestion, allow PR holders to pay their PR fee by mail or bank transfer its awful that after being here ten years I have to wait an hour and half to pay a fee. It takes up the staff time and makes it longer for other people waiting on the staff. There is no discretion involved it’s a fee payment and receipt issued. I also called to see if I could just write a letter and I was told that I had to come in and pay. 

  11. Street observer says:

    I have two passports stamped with Caymanian status. I recently renewed one of my passports and took it to get it stamped. After taking a number and waiting for 90 minutes i went to the next officer who informed me that i should go home and get proof of my citizenship and return. Its obvious that all my records are on their computer. But this is their way of weilding power and talking down to people

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Piercy need to ensure that his staff is trained. He is such a knowledgeable, smart man, and courteous as well but he has a lady there in the trade & Business department giving out pure rubbish to clients. She does not have any understanding of the laws. Whenever you go there, please take a copy of the laws with you and be prepared to argue with her. JP she is making you look real bad.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The efficiency of the granting of work permits have greatly improved, as I was pleasantly surprised when I received an approval within a short period of time.

    On the other hand customer service is seriously lacking for the front line staff. You would think you are begging staff for their time. They always seem to be in an unpleasant mood and always want to give people a very nasty attitude, even when you approach them with a smile. This seriously needs to be looked into.

    • Anonymous says:

      It's because majority of the females there have man problems and majority of the males have either baby mama drama or a hangover. I know this because I've overheard a few convos. This has them in stale moods and depression states which they carry over to the work place. All gov't departments need an overhaul of their nasty attitude staff members. Let me not start on the sourpuss faces of those at passport office, licensing and the records depts. Trust me anytime I have to go to either of those places I feel to spontaneously vomit on my shoes kinda like when I see our premier.  

  14. Anonymous says:

    Immigration has approximately 10 windows, maybe more…any given time there are only 4 windows operating, the excuse "leave, vacation, sick"…this happens 12 months out of the year…you would think they would have their act together.  

  15. Anonymous says:

    Taking a numbers to wait 20 minutes just to make an enquiry at the reception where the person is sitting twiddling their thumbs is the funniest and stupidest thing I have ever seen

    • Anonymous says:

      Not only does she sit there twiddling her thumbs, she is gabbing on the phone with friends and family for you do hear her laughing and you know damn well it isn't a customer…we are paying her just to sit there, put on a phoney smile and attempt to answer your questions.  My favorite is when you give her an envelope for someone, or filing, etc., chances are they never make it there…oh yeah then she has to do her rounds to talk to other employees. 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Been off Grand Cayman for a while now but do the staff at Elgin Avenue still pull the old 'your permit renewal's been approved but I'm not going to stamp your passport until you get another blood test' stunt? 

    It always appeared to me they did it just to prove they could push you around. Last time it was done to me they'd already been sitting on the application for about 11 months and I was going back home in five weeks anyway.

     

    • Reality Bites says:

      Oh yes, they have to try to refuse whatever you are wanting on your first visit.  It is policy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for the civil service……..

    how about some more awards mr manderson…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  18. Anonymous says:

    Believe me, it's not just Immigration where customer service is lacking !

  19. Anonymous says:

    Customer service is much lacken we agree. Ms Linda talks to people so nice and always with a smile, also one Ms Tina. However to reach Ms Linda what one have to go through with one of her staff is ridiculous. Many a person has been very embarassed and humiliated by the way that she speaks to people. When some people go to school and get to master english you need to write to them rather than speak to them. Guess they find themselves surprised to be in their seat. All this do is makes Ms Linda look bad when this happens and she is so courteous. What a shame. This is perhaps the result of the melting pot.

    • Anonymous says:

      What ?

    • Anonymous says:

      In all seriousness……I can't stop LMFAO @ your comment. Immigration dept is filled with screw faces, bad attitudes and staff who have no knowledge of basic immigration laws. (The ones at the aiport are no better). XXXX

  20. Anonymous says:

     

    I only visited Immigration twice. Slow service, lots of chatting between employees, unfriendly faces as if they do you a big favor servicing you or want to show a power they think they posses. One example of inefficiency: when a number was called and noone appeared, they would repeat it at least 5 times before moving to the next number- the whole thing would take at least 5 minutes. There were no signs anywhere that they do not take credit cards, so after spending an hour waiting for my turn, I had to leave because I did not carry cash. 

     

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think the folks at Immgration are making great strides to make the much needed improvements and should be applauded for to trying to make a difference. These days it is much clearer what the work permit requirements are and the turn around times are much better. Keep up the good work guys!

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmmm, going from terrible to merely very bad. It is, after all, an improvement.

      • Anonymous says:

        Immigration's Motto:

         

        Different counter, different person, different answer everytime

    • Anonymous says:

      They would have to do some work first to be able to keep it up.  Caymanian Customer service.  Oxymoron or just moronic?  Immigration has a long way to go just to be up to modern standards.  Go there and see for yourself why Caymanians don't do well in anything needing Customer service like tourism, sales, teaching etc.  Better is still not good.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL you are too funny!