Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Between customer service and the customer being no. 1

Recently I've read somewhere on the online Malaysian paper on the topic of customer service and somewhere also about the customer being the "king". Well, being a consumer these days we're repeatedly being served sub-standard service, be it from the waitress, receptionists, telephone operators, sales assistants to the nurses, doctors, car dealers, consultants, bank teller etc. Its that, we're being either "followed" as though that we're stealing OR "ignored" as though we're thin air. There's no form of greeting, forcing a simple smile, using simple polite words like please, thank you, you're welcome, please come again (its all being printed on the receipt these days).

I agree whole heartedly that we ought to think the customers as kings/queens in their own right as they are the ones paying out wages and the very reason that we even have a job! Yours sincerely for one was working in a hotel and restaurant for some years now, and did I ever mentioned that tips will be very generous even when the use of simple gestures or words? I occasionnally recieve gifts from customers when they return from their overseas trip. The feeling was so good and I felt touched that they actually the trouble to remember! These customers gave me the motivation to improve and work hard in my chosent line.

But then again as service employee, we do occasionally encounter customers that really go overboard with the whole customer is king/queen statement. We can tolerate rude customer (often happens to me! Such BAD LUCK!), but we'll only provide our service up to a certain level i.e. will answer in one syllable, will offer fake smile, will take no effort to get to know customer in terms of preference or even make a conversation with them. To me as long as I deliver the service "according to the book"; still polite and with a fake smile, my duty is done with these sort of customers. I'd rather spent time offering my services to customers who treat me with a little bit of respect. We as service employee don't ask much, just a simple smile, polite words and a little respect will make you the king/queen in our place!

This is not to say that I applause mistreating the customers but the fact is that there's still this mindset about service staff being "uneducated", "stupid", "don't know anything" by most of the older Asian community! This really annoys me. To me these people are the ones who are REALLY uneducated. The new generation of service staff aren't all uneducated. In fact most of us went to school and probably a few of us hold a diploma or a degree! This also not to say that we're better educated then the customers but the stereotype that service employees are receiving is downright wrong and this must change.

No doubt there will be always a few bad apples amongst the good ones; talking nonsense behind the till, being outright rude, refuse to respond to requests etc, but we also have to remember that its not always easy working (and standing for service staff) more than 8 hours straight, having to face rude customers, the pressure of being "watched" all the time by the boss and at all times to actually please customers (rude ones especially) in order to make a sale. I really think that both side of the till, employees and customers, have to change their attitude so that every one could FINALLY enjoy the servicing and buying experience!

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