Several years ago, there was a nationwide campaign for (I think) the customer service personnel in this country, especially in the government departments. If my memory serves me correctly, the campaign was named “Service with A Smile”. Essentially, it encouraged everyone in the service industry to provide services to their customers while displaying their pearly whites. So if you’re making someone angry, just remember to smile… you might piss the fella off, but what the heck…Service with A Smile, right?
Anyways, I don’t think that campaign has been all that successful. Customer service here is fast on the decline… I was out shopping last Saturday in Jaya Jusco Queensbay Mall and purchased some skincare products amounting close to RM300. I don’t carry that much cash around with me, so I pay with a credit card. As luck would have it, the credit card system was down! I was ushered to a nearby cashier who claimed his credit card machine was working. So he swiped my card, waited for AGES…the transaction was no successful. He swiped my card again. Same thing. So I offered him another card to try. Still the same problem. He wanted to swipe the card yet again, and I was already getting frustrated. I told him that there is a limit to the number of times he could swipe the card, then the bank would just reject all the transactions from that card: a security measure from the credit card company. Finally, after standing at the cashier’s for close to 30 minutes, someone brought the old-fashioned zigzag credit card machine. Transaction done in less than 5 minutes and I was outta there. The salesperson I bought the skincare products from apologized profusely for the delay but the cashier in mentioned did not say a single word of sorry. Well, so much for making the customer happy.
Yesterday, we were at Gurney Plaza. I went to the shop I had bought my new sequined dress from to have the dress altered. I left it there and told the lady I would collect it before I left the mall. Two and a half hours later, I came back to collect the dress. The lady was nowhere to be seen, but there was a man on the phone behind the counter. I stood in front of him and he didn’t so much as acknowledge my presence. I saw my dress in a bag beside him, and I gestured for him to pass me the bag. He did so but still continued yakking on the phone. For goodness’ sake, he was the only person in the store, and he kept hanging on the phone still. Finally he hung up. We asked him (in English) where the lady was, and he replied in Mandarin (which I could not understand). In the end, he spoke in Hokkien and said sorry. I think the reason he apologized was because Pete looked angry.
Such blatant customer disrespect. Tsk tsk tsk…
On the other end of the spectrum, there are *dense* customer service personnel who perhaps try too hard to please…Case in point: we walk into a store which is on sale. There are sale placards everywhere: 20%, 50%, 70%. A sales personnel approaches us as we browse through a rack of clothes.
Salesperson: This one got 50% discount, miss.
I like Pete’s classic right-on response:
Pete: Yes, I am able to read that.
At the end of the day, we want customer service we can be proud of. The customer must feel satisfied to part with his money for the product/service he is purchasing and the sales person must be happy to provide that service. Only a handful of customer service personnel are able to do this. And even fewer can provide service with a smile.