Sunday, November 11, 2007

Customer service

You call a company and the person who picks up the call simply says "hello", doesn't make you think maybe you misdialed the number of got someone's house instead? Why can't they say the name of their company in their greeting?

You go to a shop or a showroom and you can't tell the sales people from the shoppers. While you're browsing someone comes up and stands next to you and hovers. How in the world are you supposed to know that this person is actually a salesperson who's there to help you and not another shopper who's stalking you?

What the hell is wrong with customer service in this country? I mean, how hard is it to put on a name tag?


Last weekI went to both the OTE Chevrolet showroom in Wattaya and Omasco's Panasonic showroom in Qurum on the same day. In both showrooms I was approached by Omani salesmen who were simply wearing a white dishdasha just like any other Omani male. There was nothing to identify them and differentiate between them and the shoppers inside the showroom. In fact one of the salesmen wasn't even wearing a cap. When he approached me and asked if I needed any help, I actually had to ask him if actually works there. I had to restrain myself from giving him a lecture about how he could go to work not even wearing a cap. I'm not sure if I'd blame the guy though. I blame his management that didn't even give him a name tag to wear. Or maybe they gave him one but they don't even monitor their staff to ensure that they are adhering to a minimum acceptable appearance.

These sales people are the companies' first line of contact with their customers. Their appearance and behaviour are crucial. If they aren't trained well it results in missed sales opportunity. I asked the Chevrolet salesman, what's the difference between the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon. He replied it's the same car but some people prefer Chevrolet over GMC, or vice versa. Nice answer. I asked if there were any differences at all other than the front grille and he said none at all. I'm not entirely convinced it's true. I saw two identical looking 42" plasma TVs at the Panasonic showroom, but one was significantly cheaper than the other. I asked the salesman what's the difference between the two and he said this one's made in China and the other in Japan. For real? Yes, that's it. Otherwise the same TV. Hmmm. OK, what's the difference between HD and HD Ready? He was stumped. At the same time an Indian sales guy came in and explained that there was a difference in contrast ratio, number of inputs, type of speakers and a bunch of other things. (Note: The only reason the Indian salesguy knew the answer and the Omani didn't is because the guy has been working in Panasonic since forever and actually cares about his job).


TI3GIB said...

Hmm. The Indian guy still gave you an incorrect answer.

Sorry. (my experience with Linksys comping up)

Wardat_il'7leej said...

You need to also realise that the Indian may not have trained the Omani extensively, so as to sercure his position, which tends to happen and not information is passed down

Kishor Cariappa said...

In Oman, most of the products sell by themselves and not sold by sales guys. In the begining, I used to find it strange, but now I am used to it.

Never miss a chance to take a dig, eh?

(Note: The only reason the Indian salesguy knew the answer and the Omani didn't is because the guy has been working in Panasonic since forever and actually cares about his job).

Hope this answers your concern. Be positive :)

Suburban said...

Muscati- Great post. Slightly off topic: Screw Ote and chevrolet: Go the the GMC showroom in Ghubra/Bausher, and speak with the Indian guy who sits directly in front of the door. I've loved all of my interactions with him, and I adore thier service department. Maybe you could test drive the Yukon XL!

Wardat- That's reduculous, though you've unintentionally highlighted the mentality that continues to enable Omani's in holding themselves back in a competitive job market.

The Phone thing... drives me around the bend. I blogged about the morons who answer (or not) the phones at photocenter and the Crowne plaza while back.

It really makes me wonder who, exactly, is hiring these people, and paying them good money to do thier (excruciatingly simple) jobs so badly?

Anonymous said...

There are a difference between the full optioned Tahoe and the full optioned Yukon ... MUCH difference!
The Yukon has more luxury looks with more chrome outside and more wood inside other than that the engine is also much more powerful:
Yukon: 6.2 Liter producing 420 hps.
Tahoe: 5.3 Liter producing 320 hps.

muscati said...

Ti3gib - The guy was talking about the difference in price, not the difference between HD Ready and Full HD.

Warda - What you wrote is the most commonly used excuse for Omanis who work with Indians. It is sometimes valid in some industries which are technical or which require a lot of training. I heart it a lot in banks. However when it comes to selling TVs all the Omani guy needed to do is read the catalog. Plus I am sure Panasonic would provide some training material to the salespeople. This Omani salesman was just plain lazy. A bad salesman, plain and simple.

Suburban - I actually test drove the Yukon last week. I'm in love. Can't buy it because it is way over my budget and so huge that if I buy I'd probably only be able to fit it in my garage if I let my wife park in the sun :)

Anonymous - I think you are comparing the top of the range Tahoe with a Yukon Denali. Only the Denali has the 6.1 liter V8. Otherwise the top of the range Yukon and the top of the range Tahoe share the same engine.

JP said...

Great post, and I learned something too - Wardat's great example of Excuse #1 in Oman (and the ME in general): blame someone else, always.

The modern Oman was built on the backs of Indians and Pakistanis Wardat, and young Omanis need to just get off their arses and learn a work ethic.

There are so many Omani success stories, and they are due to Omani taking on responsibility and achieving things for themselves. Blaming failure on others is such a cop out.

Bambooshoot said...

I tend to agree with Wardat's comment somehow. Yes, I agree that "excuses" such as then raised by wardat should not warrant Omanis not to learn the business there are in. What should you expect from companies paying 200 - 300 OMR/month wages for high school leavers, some of them cannot even speak english. Some of these companies just do it to achieve their "Omanization Targets" and dont give a darn ars whether those omanis deliver or not. Neverthless, if you go to other showrooms such as Audi and BMW you will find well trained and experienced Omani who speak very good english and know the products they are selling inside out.

Anonymous said...

Re: Name tags.

I recently visited Muscat for the first time from the UK and I too noticed the lack of identification/name tags on shop staff. When I asked my local guide why this was, he suggested that it was perhaps because the pin required to secure the tag can damage the Dishdasher material. This is understandable. Perhaps the simple solution would be to wear lanyards with Id pockets.

allen said...

katty said...

Although excellent customer service seems like a pretty basic tenet of running a business, it seems to be forgotten or over-looked by many business owners.
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