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Monday, June 24, 2013

Acknowledging great customer service in Panama

It's been awhile since I've mentioned someone in Panama giving tremendous customer service. That's because (and don't get mad my Panamanian friends, it's just a fact) Panama is not synonymous with outstanding customer service. For the most part, this country is severely lagging in that department. 

However, every once in awhile, I find a real gem. I get so excited anytime I meet someone who seems to truly get it. I wrote about a gas station attendant (probably a year ago) who did a great job. At that time, I initiated what I called "The Customer Service Challenge." I even dedicated a page to it. Look up top, you'll see it there. I invited expats to join me in snapping photos of customer service experts in Panama, and explaining to them how much you appreciate that they've gone out of their way to provide great service. 

I asked you to send me photos and your stories, so I could post them here on my site, but no one, not a single person has joined me in the cause. Ha, it may just be because you've yet to bump into someone willing to go out of their way to help you (hell it took me a year to find another one). Sadly, I would totally believe you if you said that was the case. Anyway, last weekend, I found someone worthy of joining Ariel (the Delta gas station attendant) on the "Customer Service Challenge" page. 

Jorge Lopez at the Los Pueblos Movistar

I'd just purchased a new phone at the Panafoto in the outdoor shopping center called Los Pueblos. Across the street was a Movistar, which is one of the major cell phone providers here in Panama. My previous phone was hooked up through Movistar, so I decided to cross over and see if they could add my service on to my new phone. 

Jorge Lopez was sitting at the counter. Like a super quiet, stealthy customer service ninja, Jorge took my phone and worked his secret Smartphone magic. When I asked if he spoke English, I got the typical Panamanian answer for when someone does...kinda. He said, "So-so." That's code for: "Speak slowly, don't use slang, and if you have a British or Redneck accent, just forget about it." 

It turned out, I didn't have to ask for anything. He smiled, took the phone, and began transferring everything I had from my old phone over to my new. When I got my phone back, all my contacts had been switched over, and every major application, to include Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp were present. He even set up my gmail account so I'd receive all my emails on my phone. When I told him that my wife, Marlene, was having issues with her phone, he took it, explained to her the problem, and then fixed it, without a hitch. The guy was amazing. 

So, to Jorge Lopez, I just want to say thank you for helping out a gringo. I really appreciate it. And to his boss, wife, friends, kids, or whoever else might come across this, give Jorge a pat on the back for doing things right. And if you happen to be in the Los Pueblos area, pop your head into Movistar and say hi. 

Oh yeah, and if any readers out there come across a great customer service provider, see if they'll let you snap their picture. Tell them how much you appreciate all they've done, and tip them well (if the situation warrants a tip). Send their photo and your story to my email at and I'll make sure it shows up on my Customer Service Challenge page, right where this post is headed. 

Thanks for reading,