Not another Review!!

Not another review! What makes this different? Well, for starters, the person(s) reviewing stuff here are people who grew up in a world thats far removed from "the Reviews on Gruyere cheese and Asparagus..." In other words,
1. We love Amul butter - the salted yummy thing better than all the 'sophisticated' imported butter in the world!
2. We love the gooey, drippy sweetness of Indian sweets
3. We have, at some point in our lives, ate spoonfulls of Milkmaid conensed milk - right out of the can
4. We understand food and wine pairing (Courtesy the persistent lecturers in Hotel mgmt college), but would rather have chilled beer or the exotic looking potent cocktail with our spicy chicken tikkas or fish fries
5. Prefer to use words like 'delicate' for silks and 'sharp' for tools... NOT food!
6 Are dying find product which make lives easier for working mothers, wives, girlfriends or considerate (also read that as hen pecked) husbands and boyfriends!

So go on... pour your heart out about stuff you liked or hated!



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Customer Service? Huh? What's that?

 
 

As a trainer who specializes in customer service skills transfer, I have a skewed sense of criticality when it comes to any kind of service lapse. Traditionally, industries were either the manufacturing industry or the service industry. But today, a fine line divides the expectations that customers have from products and services.

I know, I know .... 'make a good product and the world will beat a path to your door' - but today, this just isn't enough, is it? Especially when every tangible item in the world is sold with a sense of the intangible - take a look at all the tag lines:
  • 'Drive home a relationship' - for a car brand
  • 'Open happiness' - for a cola brand
  • 'Connecting People' - for a mobile company
And many more such tag lines, that focuses on the people aspect of any product. Clearly indicating how important service is, even for a tangible product like a car or a cola.

Let me give you another example. The government operated 'Cottage Emopriums' in Delhi have much more variety in artifacts and craft-based products than most of its privately run counterparts. The pricing too, is quite fair. However, step into one of the Cottage Emporiums, and the almost empty shopping spaces will tell you a different story; right across the street, Fabindia or Anokhi would be brimming with visitors - both Indian and foreigners. The difference is in the service.

I am an ardent vacationer ; G (the better/bitter half) and I love to grab an overnight bag and vanish from the city whenever we can. Of course, after having kids, we plan much more now, keeping in mind their convenience. Also, since both of us are hoteliers, when we plan, we really plan! So invariably, we take turns in calling up the hotel that we have booked, which gives us a fair amount of insight into their service standards.

Very often, the decision to stay in a particular hotel / resort is governed by how well you were treated on the phone. Let me give you the conversation we had with a front office executive recently - verbatim:

G : Hi! I am calling from Delhi, and we have booked a room for next week. Can I get a confirmation on that?
FOA (front office Assistant) : You booked from Delhi? Then they would have given you the confirmation letter.
G : Well, yes, but I want to know which kind of room you would be allotting us.
FOA : Sir (exasperation already in his voice), we only allot rooms one day before the arrival of the guest.
G : Ok, but I have a preference of a river view room, and if I give you a preference so much in advance, can't you make sure that I get it? (most hotels even block by a specific room, if the guest insists)
FOA : No, we only put the preference one day before. You can call us again to tell us your preference one day before you check in.
G (almost grinding his teeth into a fine paste) : But you can note it somewhere and do it yourself one day before right?
FOA : I may not be on the shift, Sir.
G (doing his deep breathing exercises) : Ok... please make a note next to my reservation request in the remarks column - you do have a remarks column right? Where you put the billing instructions? OK... put a remark there, so that anyone who handles my reservation can see it.
FOA : Fine, Sir. Anything else?
G : The website spoke of activities for the family in the evening. What activities do you have?
FOA : Nothing much, Sir. There is the swimming pool.......
G : That's a facility - what's the activity?
FOA: Ummmm.....errr....... I don't know much about that Sir. Some activity might be there.
G: Can I get a pickup from the railway station?
FOA: Yes Sir. We can send a car to pick you up. It will cost you Rs. 3500/-
G : But its sixty kilometers away! Even a flight will cost lesser! And your website said something about market priced cabs......
FOA : Sir, website says a lot of things.................

At this point, G's face had developed a hue that falls in between purple and red in the color palate, so he just put the phone down and continued with his deep breathing exorcises.

A question ...... Would you take the trouble to visit the resort?

(I was almost tempted to write the name of the resort here, but resisted it, since I'd like to draw conclusions after maybe one more phone call - quite against my standard modus operandi, but we really liked the pictures so..........)

33 comments:

  1. ohh, i would never ever give this resort a second chance!

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    1. hmmmm.......ujjwal, mistakes happen to the best of companies - i would want to try another call, and see if it is a one off case

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  2. Oh I would soo put down the name of the resort n bombard my facebook bout them..

    Try writing to the head/General manager directly in a letter with your name, address and reservation number highlighting your preference and if they still don't get back, well are they so good that you can't opt fro another resort?

    Naam bathao na ..:D

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    Replies
    1. RAJ, I promise the name will be out as soon as I try once more - there is a possibility the guy was pissed - or untrained! Not an excuse, but then, as a hospitslity professional myself, i have a soft corner for these guys who are on their feet for over 15 hours a day! But either way, a review soon on the resort too!

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  3. RIght , if it was me my booking would have got cancelled RIGHT THERE. I am very particular like that , If I am paying I demand what my money should be getting. I have worked hard to earn that money so i want its worth.

    I am not being a arrogant or whatever person , thats how i think, and believe me , I have done this too, had gone with family to agra , some big hotel forgotten its name now , I had specifically told them I have to visit TAJ MAHAL, the whole reason i was thee for, only to find it was a thursday i think and TAJ MAHAL was closed, THe manager on duty got my choicest words, there was a TEAM of my collegues coming too later in year about 6 rooms were bookes , they got CANCELLED right then..

    I mean they shud have known I cant see the place and told me so i had planned my visit accordingly.. I shifted to a different hotel which was almost next to taj mahal .. and YES GOT THE REFUND back too :)

    Thats what they boast of Home away from HOME :) so in my home I get what i want , so i should ..

    I do sound so BAD in this comment he he he he :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Heheheh!! no, Bikram - you DO NOT sound bad in here! its true - your hard earned money should give you happiness, not ulcer! And good you fought for your right there !!

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    2. agree.. i would have cancelled.. this sounds like they are just fleecing you. Have had to suffer a similar incident after booking online.. really put me off.. thats the problem.. we see the site and its promises and never enquire about the ground reality.

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    3. Roshan..... I know, but the friends supposed to go with us swear by this hotel! Anyway, a detailed post once I am back - and you can bet that will have the name - good, bad or really ugly!!

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  4. It's funny how people who work in a particular industry have very high standards when they are the customers. :D M and I have both worked in tech support so when we call up for help we can be very exacting, demanding customers. Since we know the business, we know the true extent to which they can really help us.

    The callous attitude of this resort guy is so off-putting. You should sooo write the name of the resort!

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    Replies
    1. I know!! I completely agree with that! But like I wrote to RAJ, there is a possibility that the guy may not be a true representation of the resort. But, if there is a repeat performance, the name is out!

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  5. well, it could be that one guy who has not had adequate training. Have you tried calling again to see if this kind of service is the norm? If that is the case, then I would definitely reconsider going there again!

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    Replies
    1. Bingo!!! Thats exactly what I feel .... will do exactly as you suggest!

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  6. The name should have been there. Actually whenever I have called customer service people, I get well rehearsed, well worked out answers and when I ask a questions that their answer database does not offer, they are perplexed and I am at my wits end.

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    Replies
    1. I promise! But like I said, there is so much that could go wrong in the scenario! Will give part two of the verdict soon! And yes, this is quite a pain for most of us!

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  7. Boy..I'd have stayed away from such a place.

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    Replies
    1. I know!! But God knows how G thinks this place needs a second look!

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  8. ouch...I have had such conversation with so many companies who have really bad customer service.
    This really makes you so very mad..grrr
    You are expected to pay a lot of money but get a very sorry service experience..Congratulations on being the Tangy Tuesday Pick on Blogadda :)

    Lazy Pineapple

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    1. Hey!!! Firstly - thanks for the Blogadda news. I had no idea. Let me now flaunt this!

      Now for sloppy service - I think we are, as a nation, fooled quite easily - we don't make a noise where it counts, and hence we get no value for money!

      Delete
  9. Hammered the nail! Spot on! We Indians are so mired in Process that we forget who is most important - the customer.

    Don't know whether this perception will ever change in us Indians. We must stop being selfish as people and be ready to help others. That's when Customer Service will catch up here.

    I ain't advertising, but I had written something on similar lines. Would love your views on it.

    http://alwaysarocker.blogspot.in/2012/06/interaction-with-vodafone-customer.html

    Cheers,
    Vishal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vishal, just read what you wrote on CS - am completely in agreement! The day we inderstand how goodwill is the biggest profit multiplier, we'll have TATAs in every corner! Thanks !

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  10. Tell me about it...Have faced such folks quite a no of times...Good One :) And congrats on getting picked up by Blogadda :)

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    1. exactly what i came over to say :) You are aware that this is a Blogadda winner , rt ? :D

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    2. Jaish and Roshan - thank you so much!! Had not known till I visited the post!!!

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  11. No doubt the hue was between purple and red and he had to resort to the deep breathing exorcise

    very interestingly written

    am a bit irregular on the net so I may be late in visiting your blogs but visit I surely will

    warm regards
    'rajni

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming by Rajni ... and look forward to many more poems in your blog too!

      Delete
  12. I wouldn't stay in this resort. The attitude is totally against all principles of hospitality. What is more, I will also put this up on Trip Advisor, Facebook, and wherever else it is possible.

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    1. hehehe.... Sir, you know what - I ended up staying in the resort, and we had a wonderful time - but yeah, this dimension needs to be looked into by the Hotel management too!

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  13. Very well written. OMG although your experience was terrible. I like the fact you are giving them a second chance. I would do that too, probably

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    1. Thank you Varsha - so good to see you here! And yes, I have put up a review of the resort in the next post. I am so gald that I did visit the resort finally!

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  14. Sorry to say but Your experience is just another experience in Indian way of Customer service...and you are so right it is worse in Government sectors.... I worked for couple of American Banks so my definition of Customer service is quite different, thus sometimes even I am also found in 'purple' shade while interacting with Indian banks, telecom etc :-)

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    1. hehehe!! Thanks for coming by NBose. And though I'd like to say that I was right, the truth is that this resort was far, far better than most others. If you read my review of a 'Tripadvisor recommended' resort, you'll be shocked!

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  15. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post.

    Hotelasialadakh

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  16. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for newbies. Could you please extend them a little from next time?..Keep this great work
    Elearning

    ReplyDelete