Media Releases

1 January 2003

Service Under Scrutiny

The Geraldton Paper

Business operators in Geraldton need a reality check when it comes to customer service according to a Mid West Business Enterprise Centre manager Sally Bennison.

Ms Bennison said Geraldton's reputation for ensuring customers receive friendly and consistent service while shopping in town was limited, and resulted in significant "customer leakage" for the local economy.

She said a lot of operators believed there was nothing wrong with the way their business were operating many of which had a monopoly, leaving customers to put up with bad service.

In a bdi to rectify the ambivalence Ms Bennison, in conjunction with the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and funding from the Small Business Development Corporation and the Mid West Development Commission, has organised a project to boost Geraldton's customer service.

A study completed by the Mid West Development Commission in 1999 identified some $42m in trade was leaking from Geraldton to Perth. The study identified customer service as one of the major factors, as well as value for money being better elsewhere.

Ms Bennison said she was compelled to develop the Customer Service Celebration Week project for Geraldton after Jonathan Winchester, managing director of Shopper Anonymous, expressed his disappointment about the customer service he had received while in town.

"From this the Customer Service Celebration Week project was born. It's easy to be critical, but it's a lot harder to get on and do something about it," Ms Bennison said.

" A lot of businesses won't train staff because they say staff never stay very long, other simply say they don't need improvement. But there are some business that continuously look for opportunities to improve, striving to be the best, those businesses are the leaders of the district," Ms Bennison said.

Wayne Proudlove from the Mid West Development Commission said what was disappointing was that a lot of businesses, where service was perceived to be poor, had not signed up to participate.

"The cost has been kept down through the grants, and it's a great opportunity to get staff tuned in. Individual businesses will get confidential reports and there's a lot to be gained from that - they can only benefit from it," Mr Proudlove said.

Some 50 businesses have signed on to attend the event, but at least 10 spots are still available. For more details contact 9921 4741.

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