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Improving Government Public Relations

Dear Source:
We commend the de Jongh/Francis administration for their declared intentions to try and improve the delivery of service to the public through improved customer services.
The general public has been complaining of the very unprofessional manner many public servants attend to the public. It is very frustrating to go to a government office and receive not only poor service but also rude and discourteous attention.
It appears that there is a subculture in this society that encourages those negative attitudes that is reflected in the services to the general public. To address this anomaly is a challenge of enormous magnitude for the administration, because as I stated it has become like a subculture to project a negative attitude by being rude or discourteous. Like any cultural trait it is learned and maybe can be unlearned. By teaching proper manners to include speech and body language will go a long way in overcoming those negative features of this cultural anomaly.
I heard Sen. Celestino White, Sr. office pleading recently with the administration to enforce the provision of a bill he sponsored and was passed and sanctioned into law, which requires a real person to answer all phones in public offices and not the automated answering features of the telephone. I would say it takes more than having a real person answer the phones if that person is not trained in the proper protocols of answering a telephone in a public office. Too many times I have had real persons answer the phone who does not know much of anything concerning the agency for which they work. They do not know the name or function of the different offices and officers.
I believe that if an individual work in an office, they should know as much as there is to be known about the office or the agency in which they work. Not to have that knowledge indicates that the individual is not concern about their job; they lack interest and initiative to be as knowledgeable as possible about their agency and the organizational chart of the agency. The name of the head of the agency and the chain of command of an agency or office; that knowledge is critical in serving the needs of the public. The common "I don't know…" is all too common with some receptionists and telephone operators, when asked information that they should know. The proper attitude should be encouraged as a condition for assignments that has to do with direct contact with the public. Quick courses in proper public relations would help greatly; those that cannot or would not apply themselves could be terminated or given an assignment that does not require them to interact with the public. I understand it takes more muscle to frown than to smile. A pleasant sincere smile usually disarm the grouchiest of individuals, adding a pleasant "Good day, may I help you?" Can do lot of good to the public relations of an office or agency.
Let us support and encourage the efforts of the administration in improving the public relations of our public servants, elected and appointed. Let us reinstate that lost feature of our culture: Good manners and courtesy. Courtesy is contagious; try it if you doubt me.
J. J. Estemac
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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