Monday, June 14, 2010

Malaysia Customer Service: Where are you?

Customer Service is essential in all business today. In fact, good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. I am sure you agree with me 100%. All products offered are almost homogeneous and the only thing that differ you from others is the service you render.

So, what exactly is our expectation on Customer Service? Giving tremendous amount of freebies? 'YES' to everything a customer demands? Giving cheap price for your products? Or is it just answering to customers' complaints? These are basically the the norms already.
Good customer service is all about services offered before, during and after a purchase. And it is all about bringing customers back. It's all about sending them away happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers. Word of mouth is a proven fact of the rise and fall of a company/product.

Let me give you an example I encountered in IKEA, which was an incomplete process.
IKEA is known to many to have helpful staffs, so on and so forth. But not to this customer that I saw. He is a foreigner whom I would assume to have traveled and been to many places. He bought furniture worth about RM5,000 at IKEA this Sunday and he was beaming all smiles and great self satisfaction..... until he reached the home delivery section.
What happened was he wanted to deliver the furniture, inclusive, a ceiling lamp and some glass ornaments. Obviously, the glass ornaments were fragile and needed to be boxed. So, the lady behind the countered bluntly said, 'Sir, we cannot send that ceiling lamp unless YOU box it up.' And when she saw the glass ornaments, she said, 'We also cannot send that. You can take it home now instead.' That flipped the customer. He said, 'Am I at the wrong counter? Isn't this the HOME DELIVERY counter where you said you will deliver the furniture? What do you mean you cannot send this and that? And you tell me that I have to box it up or take it home MYSELF!!' The lady over the counter didn't wink a bit nether did she smile or offer an alternative solution. I believe that just blew the who experience with IKEA for that customer.

What just went wrong here? The whole Home Delivery Section was not helpful, not courteous, and not service oriented completely. What the counter lady could have done was:
1. Offer to assist him either to box it up or at least show him where to box it up.  

2. Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done, but if customers don't understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work.  

3. Know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.  

In Malaysia, it is a norm for employee to stare blank at customer and just act ignorance. They seldom offer solutions/alternatives/simple genuine explanation, don't return call when promised to do so, and most of all, they don't listen to what customer's really want or meant in their complains/feedback.

This is an intangible, emotional satisfaction, which will bring someone back again and again. So, don't you think this is MOST important in a business structure apart from the product offered?


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