Posts Tagged ‘service’

Clearly the Indian economy is doing good.

More jobs, more money flowing, more business for everyone.

Growth. For the country, which translates to growth for individual businesses.

And not everyone is able to scale up in terms of quantity and quality. And yet, the products and services that the company produces, continue to be in demand!

So what happens next?

Quality drops!

And yet, the company continues to get business. Because there is nowhere else to go, for their customers.. !

Is this becoming the norm? I am seeing more and more of this. Average quality.

And we are all accepting this.

India topped a $ 1 trillion level economy just last year. And they are talking of reaching a level SIX TIMES that number within the next 10 years!

And EVERYONE’s going to be busy! As hell.. producing, servicing, marketing, etc. etc.

Are we going to see more mediocre stuff, as businesses try to cope with growth? And if a customer is not happy, the customer can go and take a walk. And make way for the next one waiting in queue to be served..??

What do you think? Have you experienced deteriorating service levels, or you think, we are okay??

How rare is it in India, to hear of some really good service received? I have to really scan my memory hard to remember any kind of service that really impressed me. And yes, then, I CAN mention 1 or 2 striking examples.

I was particularly impressed by the service at Olde Bangalore, in Bangalore.

At the Orange County Resort at Coorg.

If I rack my brain some more, I should come up with few other names.

But it’s hard.

Many other service providers where I don’t have a problem, are at best adequate. I would put my Citibank credit card (nowadays), HDFC Bank, Vodafone, Indigo Air, etc. all in that league. Adequate. Nothing outstanding about it. Adequately efficient. Nothing more. Sometimes a little less.

And then there are MANY that actually cause grief. Service providers that “just don’t get it”. Besides the usual suspects of government services, there are just far too many restaurants, stores and showrooms, health clubs, hotels, etc. that all fall into this league.

Let me give a specific example.

I was in the market sometime late last year, for a new vehicle. I was impressed by the VW Vento. Went to the showroom. Was given the initial information with a lot of enthusiasm.

Till the point at which I actually booked the vehicle, and made the initial payment (there was a 4-month wait for the vehicle, so balance was payable when the vehicle got ready). things were fine.

From the point of time that I actually made that booking amount to the VW Mumbai East dealer (at Bezzola Complex in Chembur), from a service point of view, it was all downhill.

Every single interaction has been painful, simply because they are not equipped to provide better service. And their attitude is one that “couldn’t care less”. This extended to their service station also. Within a week of purchase, there was a minor hiccup. The car was sent to the service garage. They took a whole day to attend to the small thing. And after paying upwards of Rs. 8 lakhs, a week back, for the car, they demanded Rs. 300 odd for some parts. When I protested that it did not make sense, they brought it down, but insisted on getting paid Rs. 48/- or so. That’s a dollar! After having paid upwards of USD 20,000 a week back.

No one at that garage had the authority to take a call, to let that dollar go. When I have paid so much, it is certainly not about that dollar. It is just that they made an issue about it.

For an otherwise great product, VW has obviously not been able to get service standards and policies in place, that can address such issues.

So is India a society that can possibly produce good products, but just does not have an approach to good service?

Since we have a lot of people, we have lot of service providers! On a typical small hop flight also, we may have 5-6 air hostesses or stewards on board. At a wedding party, we may have a whole host of waiters hovering around us. There will be enough help at a hotel. BUT there will not be a true service attitude. We try to compensate for quality, by quantity.

That does not work.

However what that has done is to bring down our fundamental expectations of service. When we get adequate service, we are happy. Because “at least it was not bad”. Both the recipient and the provider of the services, are settling down to “adequacy” and not more!

People will be willing to pay a price and get excellent service. A great product can get supremely enhanced, at nominal additional cost, by great service. If a VW showroom and garage can also exemplify the same attitude that the vehicle is trying to showcase (via its advertising), would it not be wonderful?

When at the Apple store in California, you don’t see a cash counter, but the store help pulls out the machine from his pocket and swipes your card, and you don’t need to wait in a queue, it is telling something more about the cool brand that Apple is. It’s that extra bit.

When you drive into a Hertz store at the airport to give the car back, before catching your flight, and all paperwork, payments etc. can be done in 3 mins, so you can comfortably catch your flight, even if you got late, that’s more loyalty for the brand.

When the Southwest Airlines human operator picks my call within 2-3 rings at most, and the one person can help me confidently with any and all kinds of queries that I may have, then I ask for Southwest by name, and don’t look for just ‘any airline’.

There are amazing examples of this kind, in the west (well, there are duds too – don’t get me started on American Airlines!!). We’d so love to have some emerge in India too. At this time, they’ll stand out as unique.

Like Orange County Resorts does. And where at time of checkout, I put a rating on their response card, of a 11/10. Yes, those are the rare gems in India.

Can others stand up to get counted now??

It was a few years back that I had the bitterest experience with Standard Chartered Bank, in respect to a credit card that I had of theirs. Finally, I ended up tearing the card, throwing it away, and instructing them to not bother me ever again.

But little did I know, that you can enter the Standard Chartered network, but never get out of it!

Every once in a while, I would get a call from them, offering to “give me a card again”. Letting me know that “my name had been selected to be offered a card all over again”.

Like I had been rejected earlier, and now they were approving me again!!

How many times I needed to tell them that it was ME who had rejected Standard Chartered Bank, and not the other way around!  Well, in spite of these clear instructions and angry retorts from my end, I would keep getting calls, every few months.

Since it would be once in 3-4 months or so, while still being upset, I let it be.

Except that suddenly these days, it has become terrible.

I get a call from them nearly once in 3-4 days! And that in spite of the fact, that a couple of weeks back, I asked the operator concerned to note down, that I HAD REJECTED their card, and I did not want anything to do with Standard Chartered Bank, ever again. And that they should remove my number from their system, FOREVER.

And YET, the calls would not stop. Every 3-4 days, without fail, they would call me again. From their Pune call center (here’s the number they call from: 91-20-40078959). And offering me “the privilege to own a Standard Chartered Bank credit card”.

They don’t have any clue about the extent to which they damage their brand. Not only will I never use their credit card, EVER, in my life again, I will also NEVER use ANY other services offered by Standard Chartered Bank. AND I will use all opportunities of this kind, to let everyone I know, that they should not do ANY business with Standard Chartered Bank.

So there.. !!

I had ranted about the hard time that I had with Lenovo, when my Netbook had some problems, and it was impossible to get service from Lenovo.

I was extremely upset and I had gone and shared these emotions across multiple social media platforms. Besides this blog post, I had posted on my Facebook page, tweeted extensively about it, and also tweeted to many specific Lenovo accounts, both from India as well as outside India. And what happened after that?

I had a whole host of responses to the Facebook update and my tweets. From friends and others who saw the tweets. And ALL of them, bar none, either sympathized and encouraged me to go to consumer court or thereabouts, or added their own sorry tales, working with Lenovo.

I figured that the brand selection had been wrong!!

There were other responses to the Facebook update. Two of my Facebook friends had good connections inside Lenovo, and offered to put up my case to the higher levels at Lenovo. And which they did.

Soon enough, on the one side, I got an email that my case was being attended to, on priority, and I also got a phone call from Bangalore. A person calling from the company asked me to give them one more chance to repair the machine.

I had been quite clear that I did not want more experimentation on my netbook, and I had demanded that the machine be replaced or I be given a full refund.

This person from Bangalore said that he had understood the details of the matter, and he needed someone to get only about 15 minutes with the machine, and it will be fixed. I agreed to give them one last chance to work on the PC, under the condition that should it now not be settled, than I only want a replacement or refund. He stuck his neck out and agreed to my condition.

Sure enough, the person came by next day, and sure enough, he fixed the Netbook, in a matter of a few minutes too!! And he needed no CD or DVD that the other person was frantically looking for and failing to get!

So the Lenovo Netbook is back in working condition. On email, the company asked me to now write a good feedback!! That was of course, high expectations! I was on the verge of going to consumer redressal forums, and if they saved me a trip there, it certainly did not merit a ‘good feedback’ now! And I told her in so many words!

Having said that, although my machine is back in working condition, lot of questions remain unanswered:

1. If not for the intervention of my friends, would I have got the service that I ultimately got?

2. Are customers of Lenovo products expected to have such connections? And if they don’t, they can kiss good service goodbye??

3. Does Lenovo have pathetic service representatives or what? What were they struggling for so long, for a CD, which ultimately was not required at all?

4. Is restarting a simple netbook PC, where I was okay to let the disk be formatted again if required, such a big deal??

5. What they finally understood, from a remote location of Bangalore, that the machine could be fixed in a matter of 15 minutes, why could someone NOT understand this, even with a PC in their hands here in Mumbai??

6. Does Lenovo service believe only in kicking the customer around, giving excuses, losing time, no matter if the customer does not get the use of his PC in the meantime?!

Overall, I was certainly NOT satisfied with the level of service that I got from Lenovo. I have a working machine now, but just that. I am going to pray that it does not give my any more trouble as this kind of run around is not my idea of fun at all!

And at the end, I would NOT recommend anyone to purchase a Lenovo product. Period!