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Workshops on improving life in Estonia (Tallinn)

On April 19th we had the 2nd discussion workshop together with 10 people, at St. Olav Hotel.
We started off with the ideas and issues listed during the Workshop Protected content our international community could take up and initiate a change for better, and added a few new themes:
* system to keep the streets clean from snow, ice, dust, etc.
* sanitation problems in trams
* bike riding opportunities
These were areas of concern, which obviously would need improvement.

We were also discussing the following issues of need:

* Joint bank account for spouses

Seems that tt is not possible to have a joint account for spouses here in Estonia, at the moment. Estonians feel no need for it as they have not had it so far. Perhaps an international community could turn to banks and voice the need to provide such service. This would be also one way to foster family unit values.

* Consumer protection agency

In case someone would experience bad customer service or receive low quality goods or services, then there are no established agencies to turn to for help, besides the state owned Consumer Protection Board. Standing for the people’s rights for honest and good services and products it does not need to be only in the hands of a state office, but there are other opportunities as well, which are based on private initiatives, and could be developed in Estonia.

* Citizen advice agencies

The same way, as with consumer rights, the consulting services offered by Tallinn government or state offices, sometimes do not really match or reach the needs of international community members. These services need improvement or opening other agencies, which are better at focusing and digging deeper on the issues of the international community.

Among the issues mentioned during Workshop 1, there were 3 of them, which attracted more attention for further discussion: better cooperation with locals, family values, and customer service culture. The latter we took on for further discussion.

Service culture

During the discussion an understanding emerged, that the way we feel about the services we receive, much depends from our own culture, expectations and former experience. In general it was said that perhaps the local service culture does not differ much from the rest of the Europe. However, we listed some of the aspects, which flamed the discussion:

Respect - the way a person is treated in general, and is there a mutual respect sensed in the process.

To bridge the gap (between expectations and experiences) - the question was asked, if the service is crappy, then what can we do to help improve it, or at least to help the interaction process to be more efficient and friendly. Some good ideas were suggested and these are listed below.

Service in critical situations - it seems that poor service in Estonia is experienced in the non-typical situations, or when things do not go the way these were initially intended. In such cases the lack of politeness, consideration of the client, and the service skills of the sales personnel may drop drastically. The lack of good communication skills appears in “critical” situations, like replacement of defective goods, making up for undelivered service, offering speedy help or creative solutions, etc.

Thinking bigger - businesses sometimes do not see the big picture, in delivering poor service. Short-term thinking and not sustainable action plans to keep good and humane customer relations for longer time.

What can be done?

The group discussion was quite deep. These were the suggestions highlighted:

Humanizing - initiating a humane way of talking, as opposite to pure business talk, explaining, how the situation is affecting me as a human being.

Polite and proactive communication - Setting the scene proactively with a friendly start, complimenting, wishing good day, using a polite tone of voice, and offering to find a good solution together.

Vote with your feet - if possible, choose another service provider.

Stand on your rights - do not give up, but stick through and be firm on your rights.

Consulting - as a person, or as a professional consultant, offer good examples and ideas for client service.

For businesses: change the middle management, offer a complaint book, acknowledge the complaint, be proactive towards your clients.

Would you like to add your ideas and thoughts to these discussions? Please leave your comment!

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