Development, customer service, and dignity

by | Feb 20, 2009 | Development

do the two go together? can they? i hope so and think that we need to figure it out. in the for profit world, companies offer services and products, if we like them, we buy, if not, we don’t. If we don’t buy the service or the products, the companies go bust or come up with other ideas. Pretty simple.

in the development world, we offer services and products (often in the form of trainings and handouts). if the communities (aka beneficiaries) don’t like them, we still offer them. In fact, whether the communities like or dislike the services or products often has little impact on whether or not we (dis)continue the service or products. Sad but true.

I like to see this changed and there is work being done about it, however I do think that we need to continue to improve, as right now, it simply doesn’t make sense. Not that the answer is easy, but it there. I wonder how we learn from the for profit world and make our system more demand driven.

customer service fascinates me is this whole conversation. I fly a lot and certain airlines are known for customer service and well others are not. Like most people, I tend to avoid the companies with poor customer service and when possible use the ones with good service. Not rocket science.

So again, in development, do the communities have much choice in what development agency to work with? Reality seems to be not really. If our customer service or frontline interaction with the community sucks, it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t impact our “bottom-line” so to speak and the community can’t really walk out the shop door and try the next airline. Somehow I would like to change this, like us to realise that customer service has huge impact and figure out a way to give communities a choice.

Somehow I think there is some inherent link between choice and dignity. And isn’t dignity what development and justice should be all about?


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