Go to any establishment – school, office, NGO, or government – and who’s in front? Security guards, usually outsourced. These guys are the customer service frontline, and they’re not trained for it and give a generally bad impression. Any company or organization that cares about their reputation should think about the first impression a guest gets. By outsourcing initial service to security guards, that impression is generally bad.
Being a security guard sucks. The pay is low (I’d guess like 10,15k, though I saw an ad posted from the American Embassy offering more than I made as a journalist. Which was like 20k, but still). Need to start a new sentence here. The pay is low, the hours are long, and its generally thankless. Shifts can be 24 hours (or more) and you generally have to sleep, wash and eat all in kinda the same place. It’s kinda like being paid to sit in jail.
The Sri Lankan job market kinda supports this job, though. It’s generally unskilled, it pays something, and it is a job. For many people it’s actually desirable work. If I was writing a book or something I might consider it. I have no problem with the job itself.
Security Guards As PR
Basically, the entire Ramayana began with a security guard fail, at least karmically (The Origin Of Ravana). Rebirths back, Vishnu’s guards wouldn’t let a visiting sage in to see him. The sage cursed the guards to 10 bad rebirths (their impatient choice) and hence you got Ravana and Kumbhakarana, reborn to be killed by Rama (Vishnu incarnate). So, your frontline customer service is really important.
When security guards are not trained in dealing with people (or anything for that matter) they end up doing stuff like telling you where to park… after you’ve gotten out of the car, or telling you to wait when you perhaps don’t have to wait, or generally not dealing with people professionally. This is not their fault, they’re security guards, not customer service.
However, for any major company in Sri Lanka, if you go to the head office, that’s who you deal with. They’re not trained to smile or greet you in a certain way, they just take your ID, make a call and usher you up. Ideally, you should have someone well trained there to make people feel welcome, not piss off important visitors, and generally make a good first impression.
Instead you get outsourced, underpaid staff giving at best a mediocre impression and, at worst, triggering some devastating war 4,000 years hence.