The various immigration-related boards that handle applications from companies that employ foreign workers have improved their services significantly within the
past three years.
According to an 88-page survey released this week, the Cayman Islands Immigration Department and the appointed immigration boards – particularly the Work Permit Board – have recorded substantial gains in a customer satisfaction survey of 154 businesses and organisations.
The survey was taken over two-and-a-half weeks in July.
While many service improvements were noted, the costs of those services and, in some cases, the attitude of immigration staff were still found wanting by many
who took the survey.
“While improved from 2009, customers were still dissatisfied with the immigration counter and reception desk, in particular the customer service, responsiveness, flexibility and knowledge of staff,”
the survey read.
The earlier customer survey taken three years ago of 191 organisations was “not encouraging”, according to Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans, who said the latest review marks a major improvement.
“The survey found that our clients identified greater improvements in our responsiveness and customer service, as well as significantly improved confidentiality,” Ms Evans said. ”This is exactly what we have been working to achieve.”
Boards get kudos
According to the survey responses, compiled by the Deloitte accounting firm, customer satisfaction improved in the temporary work permit process, the Work Permit Board functions and the Business Staffing Plan board functions.
The Work Permit Board was the star of the survey.
“Seventy-nine per cent of respondents were satisfied to some extent with each performance indicator [for the Work Permit Board],” the report noted.
For example, only 49 per cent of the 2009 survey respondents said they thought the Work Permit Board and staff were suitably attentive to their requests.
In July, nearly 80 per cent of the survey respondents were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the board’s attentiveness.
The Business Staffing Plan Board, which fared quite a bit better in the 2009 survey, gained still higher customer satisfaction marks. Some 90 per cent of the respondents were satisfied to some extent with friendliness and politeness of staff, while 84 per cent felt they were treated with dignity and respect.
The bad news
There were several areas identified in the survey that showed problems, particularly at the Immigration Department call centre and at the “front counter”.
Nearly half of the survey-takers felt the call centre agents did not respond in a satisfactory time period to messages left, although most were satisfied with staff politeness and attitude. At the immigration counter and reception desk on Elgin Avenue in George Town, some 46 per cent of those surveyed said they were not satisfied those services represented value for money.
“Customers indicated a higher level of dissatisfaction with the level of service being provided as commensurate with the fees being paid,” the survey noted.
Fees were a common theme noted throughout the survey in a number of areas. Anonymous comments were given by some of those surveyed in July to that effect.
“Less emphasis should be put on additional fees for every little extra step taken to process a permit,” one commenter noted. “Immigration is already expensive; remember, we are not all mega-billion dollar companies.”
Others objected to the general rise in work permit fees, which were agreed to by the Legislative Assembly as part of the recently completed government budget. Permit fees were also raised in 2010.
“When these fees were all effectively doubled two years ago, that is essentially the exact date when we lost the ability to generate any profit from operators,” another commenter stated.