A recent visit to a public service organisation has prompted me to write on this topic of poor attitude displayed by some public workers.
Recently, specifically on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Samwo-Olu, visited FESTAC Town, Lagos, to commission the newly constructed ‘Senator Oluremi Tinubu Primary Health Care Centre’ located in the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Secretariat on 41 road, FESTAC Town.
My first visit to this beautiful and well-equipped healthcare facility was on Wednesday morning, 23rd March, 2022. I was pleased to find out that apart from the beautifully painted and constructed exterior of the building complex, the interior was also very well furnished with fine works of art used to decorate various parts of the walls, etc.
On arriving at such a beautiful and well equipped facility, one would expect to be treated to a warm welcome. But that was not the case! The Receptionist is usually the first person one is supposed to get in contact with when one visits such an organisation, and it is the receptionist who is supposed to act as the welcoming face of the organisation. But on the contrary, my first contact with the receionist during this first visit to such a beautiful facility turned out to be the greatest put-off.
On my arrival at the health centre, there was only one person standing at the reception desk, while the other people present were seated in the reception area. I arrived early in the morning at a few minutes after 8am, so I wouldn’t attribute the poor behaviour of the receptionist to the stresses of an already spent day. I greeted the receptionist and politely asked to see a doctor. Though she was probably busy with some task, I expected that she would at least respond to my greeting, and then either ask me to sit down and wait or ask me to pick a card containing the serial number with which people waiting to see a doctor would be attended to.
But I neither received a response to my warm greeting nor did I get any direction from her, or even any response at all. I was totally ignored! The so-called receptionist seemed to be “too busy” to take note of anyone present at the reception desk. I waited until she was through with what she was writing or whatever else she seemed to be doing. But after waiting until she finished what she was doing, she neither looked my way at the reception desk nor did she give any response to my request to see a doctor.
So, I asked again, and guess what?! She responded in a very blunt/angry/harsh/impatient manner, asking me to pick a number. I was totally taken aback by such a response! With a frown on her face, she had responded as if somebody was bothering her, or as if she was engaged in a quarrel with someone. My initial feeling of happiness at seeing the beauty and welcoming environment of the place was immediately dampened by such a poor response and attitude from the receptionist.
Anyway, I didn’t say anything to her or respond in kind. I simply picked up a numbered card and sat down to wait until my number was called. However, I wondered if some of the people who had been seated in the reception area had experienced a similar poor or ‘non-response’ to their initial enquiry, and had to sit down and wait. This is because immediately the receptionist responded bluntly to me, asking me to pick a number, another lady who had been seated all the while before I came in, quickly rushed to pick up a number, suggesting that she had been seating there all the while, had wanted to see a doctor also, but didn’t know what to do, or probably she hadn’t been given any attention when she arrived, or perhaps she had made an enquiry as well, but did not get any response.
In any case, I sat down to wait until I was called, but I didn’t allow the poor attitude of the receptionist to spoil my mind or my day. I simply utilized the opportunity of waiting at the reception to extend a warm invitation to those seated close to me to the annual commemoration of Jesus’ Death, which comes up on Friday, April 15, 2022. And fortunately, many of those whom I spoke to responded favourably and accepted a copy of the invitation, as I also encouraged them to visit www.jw.org for more information about the location nearest to them where they could attend this event. At least, this helped me to put my mind off the poor reception I got.
My waiting serial number was eventually called, and I got up to the reception desk to get on with the process of seeing a doctor. However, after getting upstairs where we were expected to wait before going into the consulting room, another mild situation/drama occurred, this time between somebody sitting close to me and another staff of the health centre.
I didn’t know what exactly the issue was, but it seemed that a woman sitting close to me had been watching how one of the cleaning staff was handling a particular task, and she noticed something that the cleaning staff had neglected, and she asked the staff to take note of what she had neglected. Though I don’t know exactly what the woman was bringing to the attention of the cleaning staff, it seemed to be important, as she was quite insistent that the staff handle it immediately, but the cleaning staff refused and responded in a what seemed like a blunt/rude manner.
This caused some anger on the part of the woman sitting close to me, and she complained loudly about the poor and rude/truculent attitude/nature of some of the staff of the health care centre – something which I had been wondering about all the while after my first encounter with the receptionist, but which I had decided to be silent about. This just confirmed to me that my suppositions were not biased or simply being over-sensitive, especially as at least one other person had now voiced out her own feelings. Yet, I still decided not to say anything, especially in order not to fuel an already heated atmosphere, so that it does not all turn out into a heated confrontation.
Therefore, I would like to use this medium to kindly make some suggestions about the quality of staff that are recruited, especially those who act as the face of organisations – the front desk personnells, receptionists, etc, especially for public organizations. I suggest that they should be given proper and adequate training to guide them in their interactions with members of the public. Also, if they are not properly paid, this should also be looked into. They should also be monitored, at least, from time to time, to ensure that they have and maintain a proper attitude toward their work, especially when it has to do with relationships with members of the public.
I have heard of SERVICOM, and I think that places like the Primary Health Care Centres and so on, should have such things in place. PEOPLE NEED TO BE SERVED RIGHT, and I think putting in place suggestion boxes and complaints/report boxes in strategic places within organizations will help to improve service delivery and discourage the poor behaviour and attitudes exhibited by some of the staff of public establishments.
Daniel IGHAKPE (Mr.).
0817 479 5742; email@example.com.
FESTAC Town, Lagos.