Tuesday, August 14

Customer Jaaye, Par Sale Na Jaaye...

"The customer is always right" is no more the rule of thumb in service.

In fact, each day dawns bright with a new and novel way to show the customer just how stupid, dumb, unreasonable, demanding, disrespectable and unwanted he is. Simply put, he's more an inconvenience than anything else. 

At least that's what it appears like.

Tired, grumpy faces. Repetitive questions. Dripping sarcasm. Unwillingness to listen or understand. Refusal to assist. Innovative ways to deny help. That's the new definition of customer service in the 21st century.

It's revolting. It's pathetic. It's unacceptable.

What can we do about it? Nothing.

Coz customers can be lost forever, but one has to protect the sale : The new mantra of service.

Or at least that's what is evident.

I'm not writing this based on one incident. Indians are a forgiving, adjusting and tolerant species; we're used to being disrespected and ignored. It wouldn't be unfair to say that we totally expect it, and are surprised if anything else comes our way. So, for me to sit down and write about it (that too when I barely get time for myself or my hobbies!), is a big thing.

Max in Phoenix (Pune) has become my pet destination of sorts. It has pretty decent variety and the prices are quite attractive. No wonder then, despite the horrible customer service desk, I still end up going there to shop for a few kurtas and tops now and then. Being a woman who loves to shop often and economically, one has to put up with some compromising situations.

My last visit to Max had me fuming over this one nasty salesman who sits at the billing desk like it's his father's grocery shop. He's unhelpful to the core and obnoxious to the hilt. This I observed over a period of three to four minutes when I was deciding whether or not to buy some garments that the display said were on sale but actually weren't. The annoying jerk would give me no time to even make up my mind, and my questions about the prices of the said garments were as painful and irritating to him as a mother's queries about a teenager's night out.

I've rarely (if ever) felt this unwanted. Being a peace-loving person, I thought I'd let it go. I very well know what I deserve in terms of service, and I am assertive enough to ask for it. But one look at this guy and you would understand that it would have been an effort wasted. He wasn't even worth a discussion or appeal.

Having bought an extra kurta that I didn't completely like but did not want to reject for fear of being humiliated by this sick salesman, I returned to Max hoping to meet somebody who would offer me a more welcoming approach and co-operative assistance.

I can't say I did. But anyway, as I said, our expectations were low. So, we were happy when one of the guys said that it was okay for us to exchange the kurta. I pranced around, and set my heart upon a pair of ballerina sandals that struck me as comfortable and elegant. (Now I realise they bite!! Like salesman, like footwear. Ahem....)

We retraced our steps to the billing counter and I joined the queue that had the same person at the head who had said we could get the garment exchanged. I could do with one argument less. But as luck would have it, by the time I got to the desk, this guy was replaced by the same jerk that I'd met last time. He glanced at me, and I could feel the ends of my neck pricking. Negative vibes were never so concrete.

As he went about punching things on the machine, and dropping a few words to his colleagues at the neighboring counters, he managed to slip me a "Are you sure this time coz it will not be exchanged again". I wanted to smack him and say "No, I'm not sure and I plan to return to exchange this soon again".

Surprise surprise. What escaped my lips was a pleasant smile and a "It's all right".

I've certainly become more mature, I must say.

After all, what can one do when a sale is more important than a customer???  

Until we meet next.... Beware of cranky sales-folks !!!

- Princess

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