Let's talk about customer service in our beloved country. Because this past one week had really taught me few things about it. Let me list it down here:
- Keep on smiling - Imagine walking around an area that encompases almost 34 thousand square metres of floor space, for nine hours, every day for four days. On high heels. Going up the stairs, going down again, and up back and move to the next area.
- Negotiation skills - A seller asking you to bring potential buyers to their area. The potential buyer incidentally had made earlier appointments with other seller. Trying to assure the seller that you will try your very best to assist and doing very best to lure the buyer to other places in between his/her appointment.
- Temper - Not good. Never lose it.
- Keeping to promises - Very difficult. Thus, never make a promise. Especially on something that you have no control of. You just have to take what's offered and make the best out of it.
- Communication - Vital. Especially when the topic is quite sensitive for obvious reasons. And also non-obvious. You also need to be able to read between the lines.
- Accepting defeat - How many times have we been told that "No" means "NO". First time rejected, try again. Second time turned down, you might want to try for the third. Three times a charm. Don't ask again.
Those five points are what I can plucked on top of my head. Others might follow soon. Maybe.
What needs to be known is that being at the front line you're the image of the organisation that you're representing. Regardless whether or not you're the major player. Once you're the first line of defense, you need to be strong enough to hold the fort for as long as you can.
Being the image also means you've got to have high tolerance to incrueldality, stupidity and any other irritating sometimes demolarizing attitudes of the people that you're dealing with. They do not need to be un-educated to behave like a pack of monkeys, in reality most of them are well off intellectually. In fact, these are the bunch of people that's the hardest of the lot for us to make excuses for them just so we can keep our coolest persona.
Today, a friend of mine, pulled his rank just to intimidate a customer service officer in an airline office. I could see that the lady was doing her very best to control her facial expression and the tone of her voice. She failed quite miserably, actually, but I applaud her effort. She didn't actually smile in the beginning when we sat down at the counter, so I did not feel really sorry for her when my friend began the drama. What happened was, my friend needed to collect three tickets on behalf of his friend, as such he only knew the names of the passenger and the flight time. The lady officer insisted that he could only collect two tickets. When asked to contact the necessary counterparts to verify, she did not say anything but continue tapping on her keyboard. And we were left sitting there trying to figure out what's going on. My friend then called his friend who's in Vietnam (that's the reason why he needed to collect the ticket on behalf) and explain what's going on, to which the lady officer said, "Sir, could you please hold on a while because I'm talking to the country office". One thing that she could've done much earlier instead of being quite for 10 minutes. This sounds really childish actually when I think back, but she could've just been friendlier, explain clearly what's going on and showed her willingness to assist instead of putting a customer in a difficult position. In the end it turned out the ticket need to be replaced, and since my friend do not have the initially issued ticket, it can only be done tomorrow at the airport, three hours before the departure. And she could've saved us the one hour that we've lost.
Scene number two. Taxi drivers in Malaysia. I think these people make barrels of money that they can pick and choose the passenger. After the incident at the airline office, I hailed a taxi. I immediately went inside, closed the door and told him where I wanted to go. The driver responded, "Where is that? I don't know". I quickly explain the landmark to which he said he doesn't go there. Duhh... I don't care whether you go there or not, the point is I wanted to. And he as the driver should just take me to where I want to go, right? But noooooooo, apparently he is able to choose. So got out, briefly mumbling, "macam ni punya taxi driver pun ader...", just to let of steam, you see.
We still need to improve a lot more in this area. Some sales people in the stores, branded or not, pick and choose customers that they want to treat nicely. And most of the time, if the customers are foreigners, they get first class treatment. Especially if these foreigners are Americans or Europeans. As long as they are white, basically. This has got to do with mindset.
Well, enough rambling for today. Let's just hope the traffic back home today won't be so ugly. But then again, that's a wishful thinking. It's Friday. And traffic on a Friday in KL, top it off with a bit of rain, is just horrendous. All the best fighting of the devils on the road on this blessed day.