Haitian Business and Poor Customer Service: Synonymous?

By VAYOLA PROPHETE

Published: November 09, 2010

Before I get to the crux of this piece, please understand I love my Haitians despite their flaws and imperfections. That’s part of what gives us our distinct character. This piece is being written to shed light on a chronic and pervasive issue in the Haitian business community. To be quite honest, this piece could extend to also incorporate the entire Black community, but I’ll focus on our people for now.

I’m a chronic bootlegger. If I can download it for free, I will. Hey, there’s no shame in my game. Times are hard. The avenue with which to download anything I am looking for is easily accessible and super convenient. For some reason, though, I decided to support the Haitian music industry (HMI) by purchasing a few Haitian CDs. I took it a step further and decided to order from a Haitian website: everythinghaitian.com (EVH). I’ve been on the site before. I’ve even made purchases before. I had an issue in the past, but it was resolved; I thought nothing of it. I figured I’d give EVH another chance. I mean they are Haitian, so why not, right?

So I made my purchase back on September 20, 2010. I spent a little less than $45 on this site, which was debited from my account the very next day. I received two receipts immediately. That was new! I was excited that from the last time I made a purchase, a few things had changed for the better. I figured by the end of September -early October the latest- I’d be blasting my Kompa. Boy was I wrong!

Today is November 9, 2010 and I still haven’t received my CDs. Attempts made at contacting someone from the company has been met with silence. The only form of contact available is e-mail, which is also new. At least I had a phone number to call to speak to an actual person last time. I’m fairly certain that e-mail account was set up to avoid having to speak to customers. Better yet, is anyone actually monitoring it?

I’ll give another example. When I’m feeling too lazy to cook, I’d order from a Haitian restaurant. When you call in, you’re greeted with attitude from whoever is on the other end of the line. The specials are never listed over the phone; the wait for the food is exorbitantly long, and a simple “Thank you! Please come again!” is never uttered. God forbid you go to the restaurant to eat. It’s very likely you’ll leave before being served. Between the inefficiency in the kitchen, rude waiters/waitresses, and the total disregard of your presence in the establishment, most people will leave with their money in tow!

Basic customer service skills are necessary to sustain any business, especially when contact with the consumer will be made regularly. A greeting, a smile, and a genuine effort to be of service go a long way in assuring the customer that their hard-earned dollars are appreciated. Which begs the question, why then is it so hard for Haitian businesses to adapt to such a customer service model? Don’t get me wrong. Not every single Haitian business out there has poor customer service, but it seems as though there’s a majority that do and that’s a HUGE issue if they are to be financially viable in this economy.

So here’s my overarching question: how do I support a business that obviously doesn’t value me as a customer? I can answer it: I DON’T!!! I take my business (and MONEY!!!) elsewhere. If enough customers follow my lead, there won’t be any Haitian businesses left standing. That would be a shame, indeed!

A quick word of advice to current and future Haitian business owners: if you want customers, you have to learn to appreciate them while servicing their needs to the best of your ability. Learn what it means to provide superior customer service and make that a practicing standard in your business. Relying on Haitian camaraderie to get by is simply not going to cut it! Haitian or not, my money goes to the person(s) that is/are trying to make me happy as I spend it. If you happen to be Haitian, awesome! If not, your loss. Get yourselves together and I guarantee your returns on investment and profit margins will increase exponentially!

Thanks for reading!

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3 comments on “Haitian Business and Poor Customer Service: Synonymous?

  1. You don’t ever lie!
    Why didn’t you dispute the charge with your bank and get your money back?
    As for the other businesses, they act like they’re doing the customers a favor! When in fact, it’s the other way around. But you know where that comes from…back home! When Haitians leave Haiti the first thing they pack and unpack is the culture…the culture to mistreat their own, unless of course you’re light skinned with cheve swa, or you’re a blan, then good customer service equal free stuff.
    It’s funny. In Haiti you don’t complain for bad services because there is no laws regulating businesses and unscrupulous practices. Someone can sell you food with dead rats and it’s your loss.
    It’s a shame that they do it here in the US when they know a few phone calls complaining to local authorities or the BBB will shut them down. Worst of all, if it’s a restaurant, it’s even more regulated so you definitely don’t want customers to complain about you. But like you said, if more Haitians would take their money somewhere else, then they’d learn how to value you as a customer. Like the Haitian proverb goes, se le bourik pa la pou konn sa’l te vo.
    Show them what you’re worth!
    The Gov

  2. Although I have enjoyed great shopping experiences at a few shops in Haiti (Gallerie Galata being an exceptional one), this article is true for the most part. Unfortunately “the customer is always right” doesn’t apply to Haitian businesses, in general, aside from a few exceptions. From markets to restaurants to “bals”, it seems nobody thinks twice about making the customer wait nor do they even try to act gracious. This definitely needs to change.

    I am sure that every business has had one or two dissatisfied customers at one point or another, but no business can improve if it doesn’t listen to its customers and provide them with a sure way of communicating. Hopefully, we see a new wave of Haitian businesses soon.

    • while I don’t subscribe to the notion “the customer is always right” i too have had my fair share of poor experiences at haitian-owned establishments. you would think doing business outside of haiti would provide the realization of necessary growth as your customer satisfaction is crucial for growth but nope. we manage to escape this tidbit of information and bypass any potential growth in business which transcends into other parts of our culture. i’m complaining about this at least a few times a week but nothing seems to change. what can we do about this?

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