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Monday, August 3, 2009

What's going on in Labrador?

Here's an email I received from @chrissrkay in response to my question about customer service in Labrador:

"I'm in Labrador City at present, where the local economy has taken on a bit of a bizarre turn.

I moved away from here 4 years ago, and a year later the local mines announced a major expansion project. People began to flood the town, expats were returning from Ft MacMurray , everyone was coming in because there was a great deal of money to be made. The city has transformed into something similar to a giant St. John's Subdivision. Cookie cutter McMansions, big trucks and SUVs in every driveway, everyone gets a nice car for their Sweet 16.

Since then there has been an economic downturn, those money making new projects are on hold and a lot of people are temporarily out of work. But that is simply where it stands at present. In relation to cusctomer service, the city has taken an odd turn.

So practically anyone can get a job at the mine, there's a local college and trades are easy to come by. Suddenly small stores, garages, well pretty much any retail establishment started to suffer because the majority of their able bodied workforce went to work at the mines. Some stores were forced to close, no one wanted to work for minimum wage, and none of the kids wanted to get jobs because they're being bankrolled by mommy and daddy's shiny new job.

Some stores have become desperate: the local Tim Hortons had literally no staff. So what did they do? Outsourced.

The local Tims is now practically 95% staffed by workers who were flown in from the Philippines, many of them working to help out family members back home.

We went to a buffet resturant last night, incredibly busy place, great food, same story. The majority of their wait staff were also outsourced from the Philippines.

How has this affected service? In the 20 years I lived here personally, I've never been served by more professional, courteous people, all smiles and they just radiate a level of competency I honestly have never seen from from the usual high school aged teens that usually work these jobs.

Im not sure just how relevant it is to your blog, but it was the most striking thing I observed when I returned here last week for a visit.

Having worked in a call center, as a barrista, and in a grocery store, much like yourself, the little things in customer service really stand out to you, and you really do appreciate those who actually WANT to do their jobs.

Thanks for writing this blog of yours, its very entertaining and I look forward to future posts."

Thanks, Chris, for your email. I'm so glad to hear a voice from the mainland portion of our province, especially when it's a story about goodservice!

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