Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Customer Service – points to ponder

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In the past as a supply driven economy, customers were ignored, with almost no alternative available to choose from. So the statement that we were taught in B-Schools – “Customer is King” was nothing that we had experienced nor believed in as we stepped out into the economy. However one would expect the trend to have shifted in today’s competitive and demand driven economy. But then customer service is still surprisingly but a dream.

Two incidents over the last week of travelling raised some serious thoughts with respect to the (mis)alignment in businesses with respect to customer service.

I stopped by at Mumbai airport and bought some coffee. The way I was served hot coffee was so cold that I decided I should not buy more from this coffee chain. It looked like he had a bad day or a rather bad experience and I was recipient of his venting out process. As a customer I thought I should have had a better treatment (especially when I’m paying hundreds of rupees for a coffee). Where’s the experience that they talk about selling – since coffee as such does not cost as much!!

Another one happened as I stepped into Chennai. As the routine fleet taxi guy had run out of cabs which meant a 30 mins wait, I turned to the juxtaposed premium fleet operator. While he did charge me about 200 Rs more for the same distance, I was impressed with the efficiency with which I was escorted to the queue outside and allocated a cab. This good-service feeling was also short-lived. As I was nearing my place the driver started expressing opinions on cost of living, the extra distance that he had to travel through bye-lanes to reach my place, the late hour of the evening etc. It was the common strategy of trying to extract tips for the service from the passenger. While tipping is not the issue – to think that this would be the case when you opt for a premium service jagged a nerve.

I am sure you can share many other instances where you have felt cheated of a service experience which you felt you rightly deserved as a customer.

I am not blaming this on the attitude of the person servicing the customers. All I am asking is, does he know who is paying for his job? Most people think that it’s the owner who is paying them for their job. If only they understand that it’s the customer who is paying for their jobs, they would naturally turn their attention to being customer prone. And the responsibility for this realization is solely on the company that employs them.

Hope some serious change in thinking ensues….

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