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Dispatches From Mexico City: Immigration as a Service (And More)

Author: Ty Trumbull
Author: Ty Trumbull

Let’s talk about service.

As loyal readers know, I'm a Canadian living in Mexico City. Yesterday I was approved to have my Mexican visa renewed. The renewal process is only slightly less arduous than when you first apply. My most recent trip to the immigration office was my third attempt. My other visits were spoiled by either improperly filled out paperwork or an incident in which water was spilled all over my immigration documents.

Both times I was told to come back, to try again, with nary a comforting word or an instruction on how to improve my chances. Applying for a work visa in a foreign country is a stressful process, even when it’s for the second time, so encouragement goes a long way in instances like these.

The Process

But let’s take a step back. The immigration offices in Mexico City are open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for applicants. They reopen later in the day for people who need to pick up documents and identification. So I woke early and headed down there, hoping to beat the rush. When I got there I was told one of my forms was, again, incorrectly filled out. I was bemused and dejected, believing that I would have to return again for a fourth time only because one of the forms had my old address on it. This was also the first time I’d gone alone to immigration. Usually, I’d been accompanied by a lawyer who could translate for me. So I was convinced this time that my sub-par Spanish wouldn’t be enough to get me through.

Thank goodness for Juanita. Or Nita, as I liked to call her. (Actually, I didn’t call her anything because I don’t think they wear nametags. But it makes for a better story if my savior has a name.) Juanita, a young woman with a kind smile and comforting demeanor, managed to talk me through everything I would need to do to fix my situation. She pointed out the error on the form and told me I could go print out a new one and come back, skipping the line. An hour later I returned with a new form in hand and a smile on my face but again there was a problem. The file numbers on my documents didn’t match.

Patience and Understanding

Fortunately for me, Nita used all the tools at her disposal to walk me through the exact process. (Her “tools” in this case consisted of a computer monitor and a pen.) She directed me to an Internet cafe down the street where I was now able to navigate the Spanish website, fill out the documents, print them off and return again. The rest of the process took only 10 minutes. It was supposed to be a 20 minute trip to immigration, but it turned into a three-hour odyssey and a hefty printing bill at the Internet cafe. Still, by the time I returned home I had an email waiting saying my visa renewal application had been approved.

There’s still a waiting game and a few more trips to the Instituto Nacional de Migración in my future. But the hard part, the nail biting and second guessing, that largely over.

I would have had to make another trip to those offices today if it wasn’t for Juanita. Nita. That dedicated civil servant who got me through what could have been a very stressful day. And that’s because she provided me a service. She was patient and understanding in her instructions and encouraging when I made a mistake.

Success As A Service

It just shows that good service can make for happy customers. If I had the option to return to Juanita on my next sojourn to immigration, I would choose her every time. We now live in a world where almost everything online is a service. Software as a Service (SaaS), IT as a Service (ITaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), I could go on.

There are a number of companies in any solution sector with similar offerings. What generally sets one company ahead of the pack is their dedication to their customer, to the service they provide. At ChannelE2E we write a lot about the first initial in those abbreviations. The “S” in SaaS. But I think it’s important for us to remember the “aaS” part of the equation as well. What these companies are providing is a service and good service usually begets success, no matter what you’re providing.

Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday, he offers views about his new hometown.