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  • Weak link…!

    Weak link…!

    A series of random events made me think about the ‘weak link’ in customer service:

    1. My mobile rang, the young lady on the phone was calling on behalf of the car company I had recently purchased a new vehicle from and wanted me to participate in a brief survey. This is my second car from their stable and as a happy customer, so far, I agreed. Where I thought, she perhaps wanted my feedback on how the vehicle was doing etc. (it has since had an axle change), nothing like that interested her…
      She jumped straight into a sales spiel – the company had launched a new device to protect my vehicle from theft, would I be interested in buying? I protested that this was not a survey at all and requested a call-back from the Head of Customer Care to share feedback. I did, indeed, get a call back the very same evening. A deputy manager first called and finally succumbed to my demand of speaking with the Head of Customer Care.
      The gentleman, first didn’t agree that it was possible his team could be doing something like this (his DM knew) – I told him either he was acting naive; or he thought I was; or if he really didn’t know, my sympathies were with him. I told him that I am just sharing feedback that:
      – As a customer who has just posed his faith in his product, the first call I expect from the company should be to take my feedback on my driving experience – he agreed.
      – I don’t have a problem in speaking with his team for purchase of another product, but I refuse to be cheated into it by a ‘survey’ spiel – he agreed.
      A few days later, someone else called to take my feedback – it didn’t matter to me anymore; there is feedback form that I received a couple of days ago, it is lying unattended.
      I test drove another of their vehicles recently and enjoyed the experience. My overall experience with the brand, over the years, has been good and I think I will buy again but I do hope they call me to take feedback first, if and when I do
    2. A mega jam, en route to Gurgaon on my birthday earlier this year, forced me to request my friend to get a sandwich for dad/ us, from this ultimate brand built on it’s promise of ‘fresh’ and ‘healthy’ meals, to sustain us until dinner later. Driving on, my friend recounted how one of the boys at the counter was handling veg and non-veg products at the same time, without changing his gloves. It had happened earlier at the same outlet,owned by someone known to me, and I had let the boy go with a warning that I would let the owner know the next time. This time I did…and he promised to look into it.
      Even as we settled for dinner later, my father developed a severe stomach pain and had to be rushed to the doctor – who diagnosed a stomach infection. Did the sandwich cause it? Did the problem go beyond just handling of veg/non-veg together? Maybe veggies and stuff cut and left open? We will never know and it doesn’t matter, I discontinued my patronage and am actively dissuading my friends from consuming their products
    3. This Italian casual dining restaurant at one of the Gurgaon malls has been my favourite for many years and I must have dined there, in groups big and small, dozens of times. They have now sublet the left AND the right sides of the restaurant to two different ice-cream/ shake brands, not associated with them (as we discovered). My father quite enjoyed the shake he had the previous time and demanded that we visit again. As I placed orders at the counter, my father decided to take a seat inside the restaurant along with my friend; a few minutes later I joined too.
      A new restaurant manager appeared and said rudely “You can’t sit here!” I quizzed him on what was the issue, he went on how the counter was not part of the restaurant and how he had already said to my father that he can’t sit there.
      We got up, went across to the bench outside, finished our shakes and moved on…
      The manager was doing the right thing – his revenue gets impacted if people occupy covers that don’t get him any money – but maybe he didn’t do it right! He had touched a sensitive nerve by being rude to my father and has, in the process, lost a regular customer and endorser.
      I came back and spoke with my colleagues and friends on what could have been a good way to handle a situation like this? There was an approach that everyone kind of agreed to… I don’t want to put it out right now and would wait for you to share your thoughts on: how the manager could have gotten us to vacate his seats, extended due courtesy, and kept his future business?

    I am seeing this across: at my hair salon – great stylist, fancy decor, but staff is not up to service standards; at my car workshop – great guys but don’t fill service logs sometimes. The owner must be wondering, why does the customer not return? So what’s the weak link in your opinion? People or training?
    We were conducting this workshop for a client’s sales team and many among the participants kept referring to the company in third person. There was silence upon being suggested that THEY were the company and that it was their interaction with the customer that decided what impression the customer formed of the company – the thought was perhaps a bit overwhelming. Next week’s session, the pride in their body language, having discovered their responsibility and status, told a new story.
    Do write in your experiences and thoughts.
    More customer service articles here.

    Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.

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