Saturday, May 12, 2007

America Welcomes Visitors...

...but not with a friendly smile. U.S. immigration officers are not known for their customer-relations skills. As I can testify, the Immigration and Naturlaization Service, now part of the overly-bloated Department of Homeland Security is neither friendly nor welcoming to the many legal visitors who favor our shores with their presence (although they seem to bend over backwards to the illegal visitors).

However, it appears that if enough visitors complain, something CAN be done. The United Kingdom's Daily Mail newspaper reported today that U.S. immigration officers will be put through a training by the Walt Disney Company, whose employees are renowneds for their ability to put park visitors at their ease, even in the midst of asn unhappy experience. the Daily Mail described the training by saying,
Immigration officers will be taught the secrets of Disney theme parks by learning how to welcome visitors, manage large queues and respond to 'negative reaction' from the public without letting their smiles slip.

This strikes me as a good idea in the main. Good customer service skills are essential in a position such as these folks hold. However, I also have a couple of concerns, namely that:

1. Immigration officers will focus so hard on being nice to foreign visitors that they may allow their function as law enforcement and security to slip by the wayside.
2. The Disney training may improve the immigration officers' public image, but will it improve the department's sorry record in the arena of actually assisting legal immigrants and visitors to the United States?

This record needs to change. Soon. Hopefully, the Disney training will be a first step in that dirdection.

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