September 20, 2020

Cayman Islands Customs staff lauded for excellent customer service


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Four Customs staffers were applauded on Friday, 31 March 2017 in a surprise celebration for their excellent customer service.

Customs Officers Mr. Barry Solomon, Ms Brandi Sherieff and Ms Kara Ebanks as well as Customs Porter, Mr. Stephen Walton received fruit baskets as tokens of appreciation from a member of the Cayman Islands public, jointly with the Department’s senior management.

Leading the celebration was Ms Caroline Roberts of Quick Images and who is also a member of the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens. She said she was truly impressed by the quality of service from Customs Officers she observed in the Cayman Islands when she returned on a flight from Tampa on 13 March 2017. Frequently overseas for business, she brings in dutiable items for which she pays duty each time, which in turn gives her many opportunities to observe, she said.

That day, Ms Roberts said, she was particularly struck by the level of customer care displayed by Customs staff but notably Mr. Solomon. She named the officer “Cayman’s Bob Barker”, after the erstwhile genial host of the highly popular CBS TV game show “The Price is Right”. “We really appreciate what you are doing (as Customs Officers),” she said to the officers, with heartfelt gratitude.

She said she also noticed that day Officer Solomon was also cheerfully answering questions from visitors. So touched was she by the Officer’s excellence, professionalism and ‘Caymankind’ attitude that she decided to express her appreciation with a token in kind and approached the department to make the surprise presentation in person.

Collector of Customs, Mr. Charles Clifford, who along with Ms Roberts handed over the fruit baskets, thanked the staff for protecting Cayman’s borders and commented: “We sometimes get complaints but it is rare for a member of the public to take the time to offer a commendation and we sincerely thank Ms Roberts for her very kind gesture.”

Mr. Clifford added, “In an organisation like ours, this is even more notable as we continue to strike that fine balance between excellence in customer service and protecting our borders.”

The Collector also thanked Assistant Collector of Customs, Ms Gidget Powell for her exceptional leadership at the airport and Deputy Collector of Customs, Mr. Jeff Jackson for his leadership of the Border Protection Portfolio.

Mr. Jackson, who was equally moved by Ms Roberts’ appreciative intent when he dealt with her request, said, “We chose this opportunity to show our own appreciation to a few more Customs staff who had displayed exceptional capabilities with their excellent customer service in the past few weeks.”

He commented, “We are proud of the way our officers rise to different challenges that present daily. For instance, Customs Officer (CO) Azzelia Watler recently handled with caring compassion and great professionalism a visitor who had an epileptic seizure when at the Customs counter. Even though this was a novel experience for the officer, she didn’t hesitate and her training kicked in so that she could help the visitor.”

“Similarly, Ms Sherieff’s innate abilities resulted in the detection of a person who brought in contraband. CO Kara Ebanks is also singled out for continuously providing outstanding customer service and Mr. Walton’s sharp eye detected several cases of undeclared alcohol taken off the conveyor belt that was sitting on the floor,” he added.

Lauding all Customs staff for their diligence, Mr. Jackson said, “Officers work hard every day to protect our borders from drugs, weapons and other illegal activities to preserve a safe and heathy environment for all. He continued, “We take complaints of employees’ negative attitudes and behavior very seriously and act quickly to investigate. But we also act quickly to praise employees for excellent work and it is always gratifying to know our employees perform their day-to-day duties with such friendly professionalism that was observed and praised by this traveller.”

“This is an excellent example of our employees’ high calibre; they not only do what is expected of them but reflect in their actions the new vision, mission, goals and core values of the Civil Service ‘Project Future’ initiative that was recently launched.”

Collector Clifford added, “There is still work to be done for greater overall improvements, and we will continue to increase already hard-efforts and momentum to remediate our deficiencies, particularly with a change in organisation culture, our business practices and procedures, and we aim to take a more strategic approach to risk management and border control that will further translate to excellence in customer service.”

Photo captions Photos by Bina Mani, GIS

L-r: Customs’ Human Resources Manager Ms Simone Mamby, Collector of Customs, Mr. Charles Clifford, member of the public Ms Caroline Roberts, Customs Porter Mr. Stephen Walton, Assistant Collector of Customs, Ms Gidget Powell, Customs Officers Mr. Barry Solomon and Ms Brandi Sherieff, and Deputy Collector of Customs, Mr. Jeff Jackson.

Collector of Customs, Mr. Charles Clifford presents Customs Porter, Mr. Stephen Walton while Ms Caroline Roberts hands over her token of appreciation to Customs Officer, Mr. Barry Solomon.

Collector of Customs presents Customs Officer Brandi Sharieff.

Assistant Collector of Customs, Ms Gidget Powell receives from the Collector the gift on behalf of Customs Officer Kara Ebanks, who was working in another section.

Member of the public Ms Caroline Roberts expresses her appreciation for the work frontline Customs Officers do. Also seen are from Collector of Customs, Mr. Charles Clifford (left) and Customs Officer Barry Solomon.

For the official Cayman Islands Government web portal,

Web title: Customs Staff Extolled

Web blurb: Five Customs staffers are appreciated and receive presentations for their fine work.

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