Matts Rehnstrom – Shaper of Business Excellence
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Service with a Smile?

US Immigrations and Customs-sealI had the pleasure to visit the US. Entering through the US Immigration does however, not always equate to the pleasure of the rest of the trip. I saw that they had put up new signs by the immigration checking booth stating that they are the Face of America followed by list of items that they commit to, such as greeting the traveller with respect and stating that the supervisor will listen to you if the officer is not granting you access, and so on. This is good and it is a step in the right direction. The question is, if this also connects to the term “Service with a smile”? I had hoped so, but was disappointed. Entering the aisle by the checking booth, tired after a long trip and screwed up by the jet lag it is not always easy to be at your best. Then to be met by a stony face official and asked critical questions does not help.

I have met immigrations officers that understood the implications of being “the face of America”, by smiling and making the traveller feel comfortable. This makes sure that the arrival is really a nice experience alongside the rest of the trip and not an adrenaline-increasing situation. A couple of years back I had the pleasure of visiting Malaysia. There we were met by an immigrations officer who smiled and greeted us with the words “Welcome to Malaysia”, and thereafter she started to run through standard checks for travellers.

Who is the customer here? Many would say that the citizens are the customers. I do not agree. In my mind the citizens are the owners of this process and the travellers are the customer, as this is a part of the travellers’ process. It is also the people or the businesses that the traveller is going to visit, if any, who are the customers, that is because they want the visitor to be fairly treated and want to encourage them to come and visit again. Owners are the citizens of the country as they are the ones who want their border checked to ensure that no unwanted individuals enter the country.

Is it possible to do a high-quality security job at the same time, as being pleasant and professional? YES it is!  You have, as an Immigration officer, to understand that you ARE the face of your country. You have the responsibility to behave in a service-like way to all those 99,9% (do not have exact figures) who are law-abiding individuals who want to experience your country or are engaged in business, at the same time as you stop unwanted elements, as they are called, from entering the country.

We can learn from the experience in the US Immigration, that it is easier to print new posters and to say that you are going to act in a certain way, than it is to change a culture.

So take a deep look into your own culture within your business. What is it that stops you from achieving Business Excellence?

To your Excellence!




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About the Author Matts Rehnstrom

Matts helps Business Analysts, especially those who work in government administration, to design efficient and high quality business processes for their clients so they are able to deliver value in a sustainable and transparent manner.With over 20 years of advanced business process design in both IT and government, he can show you a simple ‘Business Excellence’ formula which dramatically reduces the time required to design a process as well as ensures it is created in a way which is optimized for the people who actually do the work.The health of the business and the people working in it is always at the forefront of how I help business analysts design their processes.➔➔If you are a business analyst who wants to ensure you deliver the best possible outcome for their clients (especially if your current project is not running perfectly according to plan!) then Matts can help you.

  • […] Marlon Hodge has done a great job and I hope that his team is the one taking care of me the next time I pass the security at Tampa International Airport. I also hope that TSA takes Marlon’s ideas and make sure that all their teams doing security screening learn from Marlon and his team. And not only TSA, but also all other security teams around the world. While I am wishing, I wish that the ideas also spread to all the immigration officers around the world. Read more about those teams in one of my previous blog posts. […]

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