Navigating Mexico: The Bureaucratic Multi-Step Tango
By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
In Mexico, and likely most of Latin America, rather than the two-step, it is more like the 17-step.
Think about purchasing a product or a service. In a developed country, you walk in, say what you need, pay and you most likely walk out with your product or service your purchased.
And if it is not a simple experience, the customer will likely not return.
In Mexico, however, step one, would be to find the correct service center.
Otherwise, on arrival at the wrong store or center, you are likely to hear, “We only offer that product or service at another location.”
So back to step one.
Now, if you are lucky and make it to the correct physical place, go ahead and enter so you can get interrogated in public about what your business is by the employee assigned to the door.
If your wish is deemed appropriate by the information person at the entrance, who is often the newest employee, you will get a ficha, a ticket that might have a number as well as the counter you need to go to.
But if it is a government office, all of the fichas will have been likely given for the day.
Come back tomorrow.
If not, wait.
Those who arrived after you may jump in front of you because they were actually there earlier but momentarily left for things like copies. They are not line jumpers, they are just a little ahead of you in the process.
Get called. Explain everything again to a new person. She or he might be able to help you or might send you directly to someone else.
If we are talking about a government office, the requirements will likely be different than what is on the official site.
Nobody cares but you.
Your product or service is finally identified and you, hopefully, have all of the docs needed to proceed.
Now, you need to go to another counter to pay, or possibly a bank.
If you luck out and come back with the correct receipt, you are on to step seven.
Presenting proof of payment will hopefully get you the actual product or service.
To get your official receipt and or warranty, which is step eight, your might be headed to a different window or even a different building.
Why eight or nine steps for a process that could be one or two?
It might not be worth the effort to arrive at the reason. Giving out extra jobs? A system of checks and balances? Workers not capable of being trained in more than one task? Lack of technology? All of the above?
My take is that the notion of customer service is different in Mexico from in the United States of Europe.
Coordination of all the elements of a transaction is not a priority.
Accounts payable, accounts receivable, warehouse, marketing, typically only protect their individual and have very legitimate but limited interests.
No one has taken the time to map out the typical as well as atypical customer experience.
So what’s a customer to do? Complain?
No, that will only result in two extra steps for you.
It is usually easier to come to terms with the fact that extra steps have been added in for you so your dance card is more complete.