Monday, October 8, 2012

Customer Service

I’m doing Customer Service Training after school two days this week for a resort not far from my village. Today was my first day and I’m pooped but glad I did it. It seemed to go well, with lots of participation from the staff members who attended. It didn’t hurt that a former Pisi Koa is the resort general manager. He knows I’m on a budget and generously bought my lunch last week when we met to discuss the training (tuna sashimi) and bought lunch again today (oka, which is raw tuna with lime, cucumber, onion, tomato and coconut cream). My favorite part of the training was when we talked about what guests expect. Specifically we talked about what palagis expect. First, I asked two groups of staff members to list things they don’t understand or don’t like about palagi behavior. They were dead on in criticizing us and were honest to also say it’s not all palagis. What do they find troubling? Our language (too much swearing) , too much drinking and the kind of stupid behavior that comes with it, women dressing immodestly, having cheeky children and not showing respect to God on Sundays by drinking and swimming. In our discussion it seemed to come down to the lack of respect. The General Manager and I added stuff of our own to the list and also created a list of Samoan behaviors we find baffling. For example, although respect is very important in Samoa and shown to palagis regularly, at the wharf it is a scrum when it comes time to buy tickets. And for no real reason. The boat is unlikely to be sold out but people rush to push their way to the front of the line. They laughed when I pointed out that I have long arms so I just push my money forward. The laughter was because that’s how it’s done. You may be three people back in the scrum but if your arm is long enough, you’re next. It was a good afternoon with nice people. And the GM clearly recognized my fondness for all things tuna. He slipped me a beautiful tuna steak to take home for dinner. As an old Peace Corps tagline says, I Work For Love but I am also happy with raw tuna!

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