I wanted to get in touch with a specific person on the phone and when I called the company, the receptionist who answered told me that person was not available and no one in her department was around at that time.
Then, I proceeded to request for any other possible way to reach the specific person and the receptionist told me that the only way is via the direct line. She proceeded to furnish me with the number yet I told her what was the point of me getting the direct line number when the specific person was not around to speak to me. She told me that was the only way she could assist.
I thought hard on how a customer would have responded to the receptionist in this scenario especially if it has to do with breakdown of machines that needed urgent attention.
Sometimes when you called up a company and request for somebody specific, the line was transferred so fast that you would have thought that the receptionist was in a hurry to go home.
There was once I tried to reach somebody whom I do not know in a huge organization and when he picked up the phone, he informed me that he was attending a meeting and told me to call him back later. He never even bothered to enquire who I was and never took the trouble to find out whether I was a customer or not.
I wondered whether he knew that he was in a service industry.
I went to the bank the other day and had a conversation with a customer service representative. She tried to sort out my requests and when another customer came in, she took the trouble to speed up the conversation with me and told me that he had another appointment elsewhere.
How would you feel as a customer in this situation?
While in a shopping complex once, I requested for a direction to a specific store. The customer service representative showed me the way with her hand yet her smile was missing.
As if my request sucked all the energy from her body.
Sometimes, when I go out with my friends for dinner at certain place, I wondered where all the waiters went when you waved frantically for them to take the order from you and they always looked elsewhere or even if they saw you, you are invisible in their eyes.
Why are they hired as waiters and waitresses in the first place?
There are times, when you finished your dinner and asked for the bill, it took so long for the bill to reach you to the extend you wondered whether they are in the credit line business.
Certain times when you go to the restaurants and enquired from the waiter for recommendation, they pointed to the special menu which is usually the most expensive ones.
Before you eat, they are already trying their best to suck away all your money.
I was on a working visit overseas last year and had some time for shopping over the weekend.
I never plan to buy much yet I went there two days in a row and bought a lot more than planned. I had sales people who were happy to greet me, excited to share with me their latest products and patient enough to let me have my own space to make a decision.
Their motivation is contagious.
Their passion is energizing.
And they are always so happy to assist.
With a sincere smile from the heart.
When I was having dinner in a hotel elsewhere, the moment I put up my hand, there would be at least one waiter who noticed me and responded by enquiring whether I need any help regarding the menu.
That was how alert they were.
Contrary to what I have experienced before.
Some of the restaurants are fancy and expensive ones yet you wondered why they never took the trouble to hire the right type of waiters and waitresses. If it is an expensive place, paying some extra dollars for better qualified waiters would only serve to elevate the status of the place in a greater way.
As for the receptionist that I mentioned earlier, she is probably in the wrong place.
Or maybe a break will rejuvenate her.
You always wonder why some companies, with enough war chest to spend on many possibilities, never take the trouble to really emphasize on the importance of the individuals who face the customers every day via the telephone call or in person.
Yet these companies spend so much on branding in the media and infrastructure of the offices.
What is the point of having great infrastructure and superb marketing in the media if the front liners, like the waiters or the sales people do not know how best to engage the customers in an effective way?
If a customer has a bad experience with the front liners, do you think all the money spent on marketing and infrastructure will reduce the impact of that lousy experience?
The challenge about customers is that they do remember most of the good things that you do yet all it needs is for you falter once and they will remember the screw up all their life more than the good things that you have done.
They represent the face of the company.
If they give a bad impression to a customer, the company looks awful in the eyes of the customer.
So why would you buy from an awful company?
Would all the money spent on glitzy marketing help to showcase the company in better light?
Would you consider taking some of that allocation and spend wisely on ensuring the right kind of people with an exemplary attitude are hired?
Will it cost more to hire better people?
After all, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.
The success of a company depends on its people.
Treat the people cheap and they will give below par service to the customers.
Starve the people and they will deprive the customers of love.
Betray the people and they will take the customers elsewhere.
No amount of snazzy marketing or glamorous eye popping infrastructure can substitute great people in the long run.
Especially if the company is in for the long haul.
It is always about the people.