When cus­tomer ser­vice goes to the dogs

Treat us right, and we’ll keep com­ing back; take us for granted, and that will be the day you start los­ing your cus­tomer base

New Straits Times - - Viewpoint -

IRECENTLY came across a video on Face­book that I found hi­lar­i­ous at first, but later when I gave it some thought, I re­alised how much sense it re­ally made.

It de­picts a woman fac­ing the cam­era and hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with the view­ers, por­tray­ing the stark dif­fer­ence be­tween the em­ploy­ees of two ma­jor cos­met­ics brands. When the woman was dressed up as an em­ployee of one of the France-based com­pa­nies, she ex­u­ber­ated con­fi­dence and ap­proach­a­bil­ity, seem­ingly friendly and ever ready to help.

When she switched char­ac­ters to the other ma­jor cos­met­ics brand, which was founded in Canada, there was a com­plete 180° turn. She was cold and ar­ro­gant, and stand-off­ish to the point of com­ing across as aw­fully rude.

I had no prob­lems re­lat­ing to both char­ac­ters; find­ing my­self vig­or­ously nod­ding in agree­ment as I watched the short video, be­cause I knew that it was as ac­cu­rate as it could ever get. You see, I’ve been to both brands’ out­lets all across Kuala Lumpur for the past year, which was more than enough to know for sure if the em­ploy­ees in these com­pa­nies were re­ally pre­cisely de­scribed.

The video gar­nered many likes, shares and com­ments from my friends, as a num­ber of them shared their ex­pe­ri­ence when they vis­ited the out­lets in KLCC, Mid Val­ley Mega­mall, Pavil­ion and Sun­way Pyra­mid. With a small num­ber of them ad­mit­ting that even the com­pany that was pos­i­tively por­trayed had some snob­bish em­ploy­ees who had been quite rude when ap­proached, the vast ma­jor­ity col­lec­tively con-

curred that the em­ploy­ees of the other com­pany were far worse and their be­hav­iour bor­dered on im­po­lite­ness and ut­ter dis­re­spect for cus­tomers in gen­eral.

That was what got me think­ing — this is not some­thing only my friends and fel­low Malaysians have com­plained about. I can’t seem to fathom the logic be­hind this mat­ter. Many peo­ple around the world have made it a point to bring up this is­sue when­ever they walk into one of this par­tic­u­lar brand’s many out­lets.

So my ques­tion here is sim­ple: why has this com­pany not tried to make a change for the bet­ter? Why not try to im­prove the qual­ity of its cus­tomer ser­vice?

We now live in an age where there are a hun­dred dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies (at least!) sell­ing the same prod­ucts in almost all parts of the world. The com­pe­ti­tion to come up top has never been stiffer. Yet, there are still so many com­pa­nies that aren’t do­ing enough to keep cus­tomers happy, much less ap­pre­ci­ated. They are rude and sim­ply do not care much for any­one, es­pe­cially those who do not look “good enough”.

I know that for a fact be­cause I have walked into shops sell­ing branded items wear­ing shorts, a torn T-shirt and slip­pers, and got com­pletely ig­nored by the sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Just one month later, I walked into the very same stores and was im­me­di­ately en­ter­tained by the em­ploy­ees just be­cause I was dressed up well and had put on make-up that day. It’s very dis­heart­en­ing to see that cus­tomer ser­vice is go­ing down the drain, with many com­pa­nies these days, be it cos­met­ics, healthcare or any­thing else.

Per­haps these com­pa­nies have for­got­ten one tremen­dously sig­nif­i­cant fact — the de­mand for a cer­tain prod­uct may be con­tin­u­ous, but it can eas­ily trans­fer else­where be­cause one is able to get almost any­thing within a stone’s throw away in all di­rec­tions.

I feel it’s time these com­pa­nies (and I’m not only talk­ing about the brands in the video) buck up and re­think their pri­or­i­ties re­gard­ing cus­tomers. It’s high time they learn to man­age and achieve over­all cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion be­cause it is the cus­tomers that de­ter­mine a com­pany’s suc­cess.

Per­haps it is due to the fact that cer­tain com­pa­nies have no need to tend to their cus­tomers be­cause deep down, they know that the cus­tomers will not go any­where and will keep com­ing back. It’s sim­ple, re­ally.

Treat us right, and we’ll keep com­ing back. Treat us right, and we’ll buy your prod­ucts. Treat us right, and you’ll con­tinue mak­ing money.

Take us for granted, and that will be the day you start los­ing your cus­tomer base, in ad­di­tion to rep­u­ta­tion and sta­tus. The writer, a lec­turer at Sun­way Col­lege, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scot­tish/Ja­panese/In­dian lin­eage. She be­lieves in a to­mor­row where there is no racism and ha­tred

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