National Insurance – a service without excellence

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Its been a while since I’ve written about ‘customer service’ but today its my topic of choice.

Good customer service from many monopolistic agencies in my country is borderline bad. Our government agencies provide necessary services, and sometimes  government contracted services are given to established organizations. In many countries national health care plans are mandatory. You are charged a heath surcharge and /or National Insurance rate, whether you use the services or not.

For many folks the benefits offered are necessary when they become ill, disabled, injured, and retire. Many die before ever making a claim or receiving an ‘entitled benefit.’ Then there are some who advise, “the money will come whenever they are ready to process. You cannot depend on it. It is at the whims and fancy of the people working there.”

I recall chatting with a retiree who was injured on the job and she advised, “the process is, submit claim, and wait. Anytime before a year is a miracle.” she waited two years before her first payment and another year for the continuation to be processed. At fifty-seven she has a few years to go before retirement  and is happy her husband is gainfully employed. If she were single, she would be on the streets.

There is another example shared by a man who worked for a government agency. He fell from a weakened barrier while walking to his office. He submitted his claim and 2 years later he called to enquire if it was processed, ( he was checking every month during that time). He was advised by the clerk that the money was sent to his bank 2 months previously. He asked for a letter indicating the value and period of payment processed, and never received any information in writing. He is awaiting his continuation to be processed.

As I spoke with the gentleman, a wave of sadness washed over me. He looked dejected, and  had tears in his eyes. He then said, “listen, when you submit a claim you are at the mercy of the people working there. They think its a favor being done when they process a claim. Managers are always changing and as files are added they cover yours, they are quick to advise there are many people in front of you. There is no reason to improve if its bad from the top. I accept that they do not like to serve the people they are paid to serve.”  In 2015 this 49 year old man shared his story with me. I l loaned him my blanket while he waited at the doctor’s office. He deserved some kindness if only for a moment.

Why do they suffer in silence? There are many reasons, the main one being a fear of being victimized. A claim can take as long as the clerks and management determine. Files can go missing, and claims are then lost. The statutory time for appeals can also run out. Appeals are also not suggested if a claim is ongoing, because every possible action to frustrate the customer is exercised. This is an added burden on the unfortunate customer.

Throughout the years I’ve heard many stories, and I have experienced this ‘non-service.’ From my observations I think it is a deep cultural problem facing this society.  Having read several reports submitted to parliament over the years it is clear that the issue of providing a good National Insurance ‘Customer Service’ may be a challenge for many years to come.

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that ‘trumpism is not restricted to the USA’, its right here. If you claim you are doing a great job, then you are because you say so. It does not matter if the facts state otherwise. When himself tells himself he is good, he is in his mind. When himself investigates complaints against himself he will always be right. That is a universal culture of a lack of accountability, because those in power believe the public are not entitled to the service expected.

Defeat is never good to accept. Choose your battles wisely. However when it comes to  public expectation for a decent service, I’d give the NIBTT a 2 out of 10, and that’s on a good day. My best advice to anyone having to submit any claims is to pray. If you have never prayed, now is the time to do so. Pray for patience, pray for a pain-free life, but most of all pray for the people who lead. (Maybe try to record all conversations also.) Theirs is a job limited by attitude, poor work ethic and maybe little hope that they can change a service so bad, they simply go with the flow.

On a positive note, it is good to understand the dynamics of the service presented, so expectations can be adjusted to meet reality. An Advocacy Agency is needed for public support and research to help with ensure real change and improvement is possible. Maybe there is hope after all!

Something to think about

Can something this bad improve? Who starts the change process? Do they need to ‘care’ about Customer Satisfaction?

Its much more than image. Its about real customer satisfaction!

Thank you for reading and engaging .

Find me: Twitter https://twitter.com/DLE41 or

email:dwordslayer@gmail.com
Credits: Images — pixabay.com

 

 

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Eating Anyone?

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Case: The belly growls

One of the best ways to learn is from experience. To gain experience you have to perform an action, and sometimes you may feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you decisions are winners and sometimes you just mess up. Its okay to fail, and its okay to not be happy with the results, but what’s not okay, is to not try. I’ve been called unconventional, and bold, but its how this passion for execution works with me. Breaking the rules have taught me more than toeing the line. Here is my first installment on cases for consideration in management from real events, real people, and real action!



The security guard opened the gate. The clock on the dashboard gazed back at me 4:15am. As I drove into the compound, there were 2 vehicles waiting, their drivers jumped out.

“Good morning Boss”, the first guy said as he approached my jeep.

“Hey, morning Boss, I was here first can I leave as soon as possible. Today its a long run.” The second man looks at me with a smile, as he gets closer.

“Good morning Diego, good morning Devin. Glad you guys are here. This morning I have a surprise. Please have some breakfast before you leave, there is a lot – so enjoy.” As I looked at the guys their shock and amazement is heart-breaking. “Here, can you give me a hand with those bags in the back and go easy with the trays.”

They both stand still, gazing at me as though they had seen a ghost.
Devin is the first to speak, “Boss, are you serious. You brought us breakfast. Wow, no one has ever done that before, and I’ve been here five years. You for real? But you are the Boss.”

Diego just stands, looking at me. As I look at him he looks away. We get into the building and the rest of the guys enter, and are all looking stunned by everything they see.

“Guys, you are my team. Every single one of you are part of my team. On my watch, you eat every morning before you go out there. If you can be sure of one thing every day, is breakfast from this company. It’s nothing fancy, just basic sandwich or cookies and coffee or juice every morning.” As I look around the rest of my team are there listening. Those faces don’t look as happy as I had hoped they would be. They looked shocked. Dumbfounded. Not happy.

Diego is the first to speak, ” Boss we are just surprised. You don’t know us. You’ve not been here long, and yet you are being good to us. I’m not ashamed to say, no one has ever woken up and made breakfast for me before I come to work, and I have a wife. No one really cares if I eat, because we just have to go and make the money for the company. Yes we are paid, but its sometimes not enough to live, and we’re hungry hoping someone will share their bread with us. Some customers share food with us sometimes. So we shocked. But thanks Boss. I appreciate it.”

One by one the others come up to me, with shy smiles, some with blank face and glassy eyes, trying not to show emotion. They have their pride and its important they don’t feel less as men because they have less. We go into the building and I lay the counter with coffee, tea, cocoa, milk, sugar. I’m trying not to look at them, because I’m not sure I want them to see how choked up I feel. As I uncover the trays and turn on the kettle,  a squeal erupts from another member of staff, “Look at how fantastic this all is. I could eat it all.”
Another voice jumps in, ” No, no Francis, you can take last, you are too greedy!” The guys  are busy commenting, joking and laughing but no one comes forward to eat. To get the guys started I pray out loud, “Thank you God for this meal. Bless the food, the guys and the business. Amen. Get cracking guys, and take any extras for lunch. Your trucks need to be out by 4:45am latest!

Managing  and the meal

There are many things I learnt from managing a distribution team, but the one thing which stays with me is how a simple act of kindness can impact of the lives of those we lead. It makes good business sense to know your staff and the environment they have to operate within. Expecting peak performance from members of the team who may be distracted by a lack of the basic necessities is foolhardy. What drew my attention to this need was observing the look of hunger on one of the guys one morning. I asked a few questions discretely, checked their earnings and did the math myself.

While we cannot be responsible for all their basic needs, sometimes its important to evaluate remuneration packages and seek ways to increase employee comfort to optimize performance. There are some things which help increase the overall value package offered by an organization, which won’t break the bank. In many instances, when employees talk about their place of work, if you listen closely, its the things that are not included in the pay package which are highlighted.

Be an employer who cares about the welfare of staff. You can show interest without creating huge obligations which cannot be upheld.

Every time I think about those guys I smile. The genuine appreciation was worth much more than the thirty-five dollars to take care of my team daily. When I needed them to do more they would never grumble, but step up!

Maybe I have it all wrong, but I think leading with compassion and kindness won’t make you weak, but can inspire your team to want to be loyal and to enjoy coming to work. This team thought I was ‘dread’ ( means no nonsense and tough), but felt I was fair most times – based on feedback!

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, on this case, and maybe how you would deal with a similar situation.

** This post was written and first posted on bebee.com  Check link   All Business Hive  to see interactive discussion.

I’m a Business Development Consultant with over thirty years experience in sales marketing and brand /market/ customer service. I’ve started and operated a regional distribution company for over seven years in HVAC supply & distribution. Sponsorships, seminars, training and promotional activities are part of my portfolio developed over the years. If you have a challenge, it can be resolved. For consultation contact dwordslayer@gmail.com

Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Corporate warfare – Life Games

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Life is not a game!

Going through my drafts I came upon this . Two verses were used in another article, the words are now all awaiting their turn for sharing. It’s the thoughts of a leader injured on the job and an organisation’s determination to avoid association with the liability. Everything which is not positive gets hidden in the corporate world if possible. Injuries on the job are not noted when staff are urged not to make police reports, or to keep their jobs- be silent! ISO and OSHA standards are of no value if not enforced.

Fear can keep the ‘thoughtful strong’ quiet and make the weak strong in understanding. No admonishments, just acceptance. If life is a game at work the stakes are higher than the prize.

Do you leave your men when they fall

Do you leave your men when they fall in battle
Do you take them to the front
yet walk away when they fall
their eyes are open
and heart beating still
do you cross over
turn away
when they touch the ground
Do you feel their pain as the air lifts them up

does the sharp gasp send you reeling
Do you leave and turn away
when they fall … for you
Do you feel their eyes  departing
Can you feel the pause 

when life is suspended
when the break in the wind
sees blood pouring out
Can you feel the heart beating
as it watches you depart
Can you feel the hope
gone from your own hands
 Yes ..your soldier has fallen 

from the battle field
up in front
from the line of the march
where he gave
All his comrades see him fall
to his pain
no one held him back
from the line of attack…..
Do you feel my pain

as I call out in the night
the battlefront  never lets me go
looking up to the sun
with my eyes open wide
fallen , but alive
my heart is beating.
Do you feel my anguish and walk over

walk away
despair …leaving  life on the ground
once revered
Can you feel your own place
in the battle of  ‘lost  hope’
Can  you spare  your soldier .. he did work.

What do you stand for when you cannot stand? Who fights on behalf of those who take on the Goliath of the corporate world. Be kind, be just, be fair, and whatever you do have a heart which beats blood and not dollars and cents!
There is no feel good end filled with lollipops…. but a good feeling in endurance.
In peace.. it goes out into the world now.. released!
Thank you for sharing  your thoughts lets all raise awareness of Humanitarian Advocacy in the workplace by sharing!
* This was expected to be the prelude to the Humanitarian Advocacy series, but is a prelude to the 4th and final post in that series.
© Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Humanitarian Advocacy 2 – The sick & injured warrior!

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I would not describe myself as brave. I’m afraid of rodents, insects, and cringe when going to the dentist! There is something deep, deep inside my being though which abhors injustice, making it impossible for me to sit quietly. Never choosing to fight for myself, I would march quite boldly to defend another. In defense of others we can be fierce, but it takes that much more in defense of ourselves.

There is a movie, I like to refer to when discussing human behavior – ‘Law Abiding Citizen’, with Gerard Butler & Jamie Fox. The show revolves around a man’s fight for justice in an unfair system, created by those who are expected to uphold the law. He waits on justice and it was unfair. A plea bargain for testimony against the partner set the real perpetrator free – a man who raped and murdered  the wife and young daughter of a law abiding citizen. To change the system, while extracting his own justice, the victim, became the villain. I don’t think he deserved the cards he was given, yet I also think he was pushed by an unjust system to fight for his rights, and his family. There was no ‘humanitarian advocacy’ for him!

Sickness & Injury

People get sick. People get the cold, viruses, diseases and other ailments which make it difficult to perform duties at work. Its natural to notify your employer if the illness becomes unbearable and you need to go to the doctor and have a check -up. Its also natural to be given sick leave to recover – take it. Its not natural for the employer to deny you the opportunity to seek medical attention and recovery.

Pregnancy is not a sickness. It can make you sick, its a very uncomfortable feeling for many women (myself included),but most times things settle down by the second trimester. I don’t think men could cope with it – thus women are the vessels for mankind’s existence!  Be kind, be respectful, show consideration, and above all be fair to all women during this period. Its hard dealing with the hormones and injustice. Is it hard to be a humanitarian advocate to an expectant mother?

Parents are always on call even at work, and feelings of guilt can undermine performance.Children get sick, parents get sick, and family gets sick, and time is needed to deal with these emergencies. Can we exercise our humanitarian advocacy – easing the burden of life for your colleague by not undermining their absence from work for emergencies?

Injuries can happen in many different ways on the job. There can be a machinery defect which may cause a cut or burn. There are breakdowns with outdated equipment  which may cause a loss of limb while using or misusing. Sometimes its plain negligence which causes injury to the unsuspecting employee. Whatever the situation, can we care sufficiently to care?

There are also injuries which occur in the office via a faulty chair,chipped tile, slippery floors and even a stapler to name a few causes. How do we respond in these situations? Is it okay to make fun of someone at the point of injury, by snapping pictures and making videos to share on social media? Lets be real, it could be you, and how would you feel?

Then we have the big injuries which can cause disability and an inability to work.Would you punish a man who becomes disabled on the job, by denying workmen’s compensation and benefits?  If a court needs to decide the long-term compensation, some level of humane treatment is still required. Litigation is costly on the employer and the employee. Life may go on for the company, but the disabled or injured needs to live also.

Humanitarian Advocacy is personal. The reality is, I am reconstructing, my life, what I can do, my beliefs, and trying to believe that we can be humanitarians in-spite of  changes which cut deep. Injuries happen at work and believe it or not a lot of leaders expect leaders to feel no hurt or pain, just conform to the code. Show your strength by rising above the pain.

An executive shared with me a story of how she dragged herself from her bed to be strong. How she worked with that pain, seeming to expect I would and could do the same to ‘prove’ myself worthy  as the leader. I am guilty of working for 26 days with the dreaded Chikungunya virus last August, my body finally giving in and collapsing in my office. I was expected to continue working without medical care, which I finally sought!

When I was knocked off my feet last November by an employee reversing her car without looking, it was expected I would feel no pain and keep working. I was expected after surgery to be okay in a few weeks. It is expected to take four years. I asked the question – where is your humanity? There was no answer.

Sickness in management is not acceptable in some companies. Injuries are worst. There are many stories of this, but they are not shared, because “managers and leaders don’t get injured or ill”. To prove capability, there is silence on this topic. Let me say, there is greater strength in accepting human weakness and taking care of personal health.

In sharing my weaknesses, maybe you can understand that nothing matters if there is no good health. There is no perfect person. Accidents will happen, as will injury and sickness. We have to stop ourselves from being forced into a ‘compliance of superficial strength’. The dead body is never asked ‘how was work today?’

I was asked to speak with a man who worked for a company which dismissed him without a hearing, on something which never happened in another company. He has a legal battle going on, and will win his case. He advised he wanted to commit suicide, it was too much to handle, being unable to find work to care for his family. I spoke with him for a long time, and have followed up on his progress in living. Legal battles are long and hard .

There is a woman who had her benefit payments deducted from her salary for twenty years and at retirement  was advised the payments to the National Insurance Board were never made by her employer. “What do I do” is her question? Her colleagues are aware, yet no one speaks of it. She must work to live, and cannot survive a legal battle. Are there no humanitarian advocates in some places?

Maybe this article has more questions than answers, because we need to provide the answers to ourselves. The law can be a law unto itself. The legal system may seem to favor the employer, but only because no one speaks up to support the aggrieved or injured. Laws to protect employees are not enforced, and the norm suddenly becomes acceptable.

Humanitarian Advocacy at work – do you feel inclined to move from the comfort zone of “it won’t happen to me” and “its none of my business?”

Lets hear that voice which says, “I am an injured soldier coming out from a war zone, and I am a humanitarian advocate. Have always been, and will always be – do not let me stand alone.”

In the next part of this Humanitarian Advocacy series  – part 3 explores the real cost of war and justice.

Thank you for being a humanitarian advocate in the workplace. I look forward to your comments, likes and views. Lets engage and increase the value of our reading!

You can also share with me on Facebook and Twitter. I like hearing from you!

DWordslayer

 

 Artwork: Artistree -andrew.innocent@hotmail.com

© Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.