Customer Service...changing culture!

13 SEP, 2014
by Bikash Mohanty

I have a letter that my debit card is ready and I am here to collect the same. I have a letter from your Branch. She asked me if I had any ID card. I passed on my driving license, the letter and she went away to look for my debit card. Someone tried to carry out a fraudulent act using my debit card and the bank sent my replacement card to a branch near my home. She took 10 mins and came back to say that “Sir, unfortunately I am not finding it – but let me see if I can ask my other colleague to help you, as I am busy” . Fine, I said. Another 10 mins wait and the other colleagues repeated the same act of searching for the post with my driving license and letter in my name from their branch. She again came back after 10 mins to say – “No sir, something horribly wrong as I am not finding the card, although letter went to you from our branch”. Fine I said – what next I asked. She said my manager is with a customer at the moment and when he finishes, let me ask him to help you. All right then, I smiled and told her. Manager came to see me after 15 minutes after finishing his work, he was already engaged with. And he took the same details away from me, my driving license and the bank letter. This time he asked me to follow him…I did. He just opened the same drawer which two of his customer service colleagues searched earlier to find my card. My card was right there, the third one from the top. The manager looked annoyed. He whispered in my ear “……girls…they want a man to do it for them all the time!” . Never mind, to me;  only concern was I had to spent 55 minutes (close to an hour), just to collect a card or letter, which was supposed to have been lying there/waiting for me to be picked up. CUSTOMER SERVICE; I’ll tell you….

I’d consider this as one off incident and probably try to forget this but the reason I am writing about it; is because I want all of us to relate to this incident and I am sure we met with situations like this, quite frequently these days. Why? What’s happening?

I have three types of customer service; to compare, which I have experienced in my life till date.

In earlier part of my life where I grew up – I experienced a type customer service, when the service providers choose to close their eyes and drink milk like a cat, thinking no one is able to see them drinking milk. You go to a barber shop or restaurant or fish market or any other service provider – just wait for 5 mins sir, we’ll be there with you; IS WHAT THEY SAY. And those 5 minutes PROMISED WAIT; never ends in 5 minutes. It extended beyond 50 minutes. It is obvious to the service provider and customer that 5 minute wait is a white lie. A plumber says that he will come to our house in 5 minutes and the whole day we end up waiting for him, still he does not turn up. All you hear from the plumber is: I’ll be at your house in 5 minutes. Then why don’t they tell the truth. Often we hear from the support staffs in the Software offshore development/support centres: “we’ll get back to you sir, very soon”. “He/She is away from his desk sir, I am his colleague speaking – I shall tell him that you called”. “Ohh sorry, I went down for tea”. “Ohh sorry sir, I was hospitalized for two days”. Or EVEN; “I am very sorry sir, my neighbour met with an accident and passed away”. Lies, lies and more lies….until it is accepted AND is not caught.

Then I experienced a type of customer service where customer is GOD. Issue of a customer is dealt with head on, until it is resolved. One customer and every customer is given upmost importance and business grows on the basis of customer care, word of mouth, based on own strength of the service provider, rather than on the ability of false image portrayed by social media or huge marketing disbursement. We do not hear excuses like “we are busy”; “we have too much customers today”, "I am having a bad day", " I went out last night & had way too much drinks" or “it depends”. Everything is clean and crystal clear to the customer and service provider.

Then I came across another pattern of customer service; where cheating customer is the ethics they follow. Cheat, abuse and never greet the customer is value they carry. Short-termism is practiced over the long-term customer relationship. If you ask a question, the service provider asks you to look for another service provider. You have to pay premium money but you can’t ask question. By mistake if you asked FOR reason, the answer you get is “IT DEPENDS!”. Because the business model is based on short-termism; the businesses also tend to exist for short-term only. Businesses fail, banks make loss, corporations break down, people are made redundant and country goes into recession. And to support such trouble, the legal practices in the country are mushroomed all over, more like vegetable shops or new agencies. A normal high street is expected to have 50-60 legal, doing excellent business, around the clock, throughout the year.

Yes – I know you’ll ask me – why I am telling you all these on a Saturday afternoon. Because? Because I want to make you smile. I want you to smile knowing there are only 2% of us, who are happy with the customer service we experience on a daily basis. And another 98% are yet to be made happier with better customer service, truthful dealings, honest answers, timely response and ethical behavioural patterns. As long as we can maintain these missing links – a whole 98% of the market is yet to be tapped, irrespective of the industry or profession we are in. Do we agree or what? Isn’t that something for us to feel happy about? We thought we never had a market for our interest or skills – but the fact remains we have a whole new market emerging in the backdrop….see see….there…there it is…got it? We have to make a selection, what we offer. To who we offer is not a question anymore. 98% remember?

Never ever go out without wearing your SMILE today. It is precariously BRIGHT out today. PLEASE. Have a great Saturday afternoon and evening. CHELSEA is playing SWANSEA city today and Diego Costa is fit to play...I have to go!