This is a guest post by Kamran Niazi – Kamran is a regular commenter on G&W and works as a Financial Analyst at the Agribusiness Support Fund. The views in this article are his own.
The other day, I went to CTC (Coffee, Tea & Company, Lahore) to buy a cake. Over there, I mentioned that I was taking the cake to Islamabad by road. The person serving me (I later on found out, that he the owner), immediately asked me, where I was going & how much travel time. He then recommended that, I buy Chocolate Fudge Cake. He said that, ONLY that cake would stay ok for 8-10 hours travel time (by the way, that particular cake stays nice for 2-3 days in a fridge. All other cakes would spoil due to lack of refrigeration during the expected travel time. The Chocolate Fudge Cake is among the cheaper items in CTC. The guy could have sold me a more expensive item, but wanted a long term relationship through better customer services.
Usually in our Country, however, we believe that Customer Services are the pits and CSRs enjoy the status of pariahs in their organizations (whatever that Organization maybe). How often have you met a CSR (in any setting) and when he mentions that, he is a CSR, you have mentally considered him to be moron and left him there & then.
This is particularly true in Telecom Companies, where most cuts are made in the CSR Departments, whenever there is a need for cost cuttings. Now, as a consumer, you actually pay for the privilege of calling customer services (well, one must be charitable, that is the first thing, the recording tells you. Its not like that, you were uninformed). I might be wrong, but isn’t good customer services a competitive advantage? Isn’t it something, which distinguishes you from the rest of the pack? It makes you wonder, what the marketing guys were smoking. They spend a fortune on advertising & promotion, especially competing in the Dance-a-thon. The aim of these Dance-a-thon is, what I have understood so far is, "How Many Dancing Guys & Gals Can We Include in One Commercial". About the message, I have no idea, but the dance-a-thons are nice and you learn some really nice dance steps, which one can then use to impress family & friends at functions.
Some examples of CSR:
a. Staying online for about 45 Minutes hearing MUZAK & being told that, the call was important, while waiting for a CSR to pick up phone (reason for call: GPRS Service was not working. reason for CSR not picking up phone: he was busy serving other customers). Well, the waiting was not that bad, as managed to watch the entire episode of "Numbers" on TV.
b. Spending 75 Minutes calling the Customer Services Line and not being able to get through. Then being told that, you have reached the max number of phone calls and should try after 24 hours.
c. Spending 2 days trying to get GPRS activated and hearing that, the complaint has been forwarded and you would hear from us. After 48 hours, giving up hope and calling an acquaintance and telling him the problem. Result, problem solved in 60 minutes.
a. One connection bought, SIM lying somewhere for the past 15 Months.
b. One Connection to be bought cancelled just before purchase.
Marketing Guys, I don’t know about you. But as a marketing professional, for me Customer Services are highly important. Good Customer Services can make or break a relationship. Would paying 30K a Month to 100 CSRs for a year (36 Million Rs) be that high an expense? It might be actually cheaper than running Dancing Ads after ever over / every wicket in one Match of the IPL.
PS If you need an authority to convince the Management about the importance of Customer Services. Check out Seth Godin’s Post here (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/06/learning-from-f.html)