Service Follow-Ups

Following the two consecutive pieces that I wrote related to problems with service-oriented companies, early this week, Sanjay started a thread on his blog to describe his travails with a particular brand of router and the local service partner…he went through a lot of angst, but it thankfully finally ended well. 
People are not perfect. And despite whatever Six Sigma may say, systems are not perfect, simply because they are run by people. Things can go wrong in the best of places and situations, but what distinguishes an average company from a great one, is the way in which it handles problems when they arise and when things go awry and wrong. 
Just to recap. Two weeks ago, I ranted about my problems getting credible answers from the dealer and the parent company regarding the delivery status of the Nano. Then last week, I penned a “tongue-in-cheek” piece about the poor service in a prime Goan hotel, where I ascribed the service issues to Goan “sossegado”.  
Here are the follow-ups! 
At 11.00AM on the Saturday that the “nano” piece was published, the same junior executive who I had fought with before, left a voice-mail on my cell telling me that the car had already come and would be ready for delivery as soon as some paper-work formalities were completed. Eventually the car came home this Monday. The problem is that I had never asked for an “out-of-turn” allotment of the car. All I had wanted was for someone in the dealership or the parent company to address the late-delivery issue and to give an intelligent explanation without stonewalling, with some idea of the expected delivery date. In the end, even though I have my sunshine yellow Nano, the taste in my mouth is still bitter. No one has yet called to answer the questions that I had raised! 
In the meantime, I had also sent a link to my “sossegado” article, to the customer service department of the hotel chain that had given us poor service in Goa. Within 48 hours, a senior-level customer service manager emailed me, apologizing profusely. She was quite clear, as many of my friends and readers had been as well, that “sossegado” or not, the service levels of any hotel chain, whether in Goa or Mumbai or New York, should be the same. She assured me that the group was serious about solving the problems that I had enumerated and even though I had not asked for any compensation, she added a few points to the hotel chain’s loyalty card! 
My family feels that I am too picky, while I believe that most of us are actually too docile. For a variety of reasons, the majority of us take too many things lying down, perhaps because we have been used to such atrocious levels of service for so many decades, that people of my generation and those older have probably developed a thick-enough skin. So whether it is the terrible service that I occasionally encounter at a leading Central Mumbai five-star hotel or with the black and yellow cabs or when dealing with cellphone companies…unless we make a noise, service providers will keep thinking that they can get away with rubbish! 
And yet, there are examples of exemplary service, even in India. Ask yourself why Jet Gold or Platinum members seldom fly any another airline! 
And it definitely shouldn’t take a newspaper column to make a company sit up and take some action! A phone call or an email should be given equal importance.

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