Saturday, February 13, 2010

An Unfortunate Experience Highlights a Root Cause of Jordan's Customer Service Problem

So, back in November, El 3atal gave himself an early Christmas present. He bought a new cell phone. For a little background, you may recall my post on cell phones and the fact that in the US, I kept the same cell phone for 5 years. I'm the bain of the cell phone companies' existence since I rarely buy new hardware. Mid-last year, I did buy a new cell phone to replace the awesome Motorola I had purchased when we first moved here. The Motorola is still a great phone, but somehow I managed to get something caught under the 0 key. And, you can't do much without a 0 key in Jordan. Then the little button in the center popped off and I decided it was time to feed my wish for a pink phone. I know by now you're wondering what this has to do with El 3atal's phone aren't you? Bear with me. So, I bought a Samsung to replace my Motorola and so far have been very happy with it.

But, El 3atal has always been a bit of a snob about his phones and buys Nokia. So, his latest phone was the newly released, fancy slides-open-from-the-side, cool phone. And he paid a pretty penny. So, about 3 weeks after getting his new phone, the flash on the camera started glowing red for no known reason. El 3atal took it into Golden Mobile since they are the only ones who are authorized to fix Nokias here. Unfortunately, this has proven to be quite an ordeal.

El 3atal dropped off his phone a few days before Christmas and was told it should be ready in a week. At the end of that week, he called and they said they were missing a part and waiting on it to arrive, it should just be one more week. This went on... and on... and on. Finally, a little over a week ago, when Golden Mobile has actually had his new phone LONGER than he had and were still "waiting on a part and his phone was with level 3" we went in to pay them a visit. Several times over the seven weeks of waiting, he had spoken to the "manager" of customer service. The answers and service he received from this chap were lackluster at best.

When we got to the office, the chap at the Complaines desk (yes, I suppose that must be complaints) tried to foist us off with a "the phone is waiting on a part and it'll be ready in two more days." As you can imagine, we weren't buying it. After seven weeks of one more week and a couple of days, I simply was unable to believe any promise date they provided. We asked to see the manager. The manager came out and he and El 3atal began to discuss the situation. now, of course the manager remembered El 3atal after his many conversations and tried to explain to him that it isn't their fault. They're waiting on the part and, yadda yadda yadda. El 3atal explained to him that he understood all that, but it simply was insufficient to tell a customer that you don't have the part after 7 WEEKS!

Finally, I felt I had to get involved in the conversation. I explained to the young fellow that Golden Mobile's poor customer service has led to El 3atal - a loyal Nokia customer - stating this phone was his last Nokia purchase. And, the reply highlights the root issue. The manager said to me, but this isn't a customer service issue, it's a parts issue. AHHHH, so NOW I get it. This fellow and, one would presume, his management chain, have been led to believe that customer service consists solely of being nice to the person when you tell them they need to keep waiting indefinitely and you can't help them. I assure you THAT is a problem.

I worked in telephone customer service during the summer and during my last year of college. If I was simply a nice voice to tell them, I understand you didn't want that book but so what, I'd have been fired. Customer service is about HELPING the customer - not telling them why you can't help them. If I wanted the customer excuses department, I'm sure they'd be easy to find. But I wanted customer service. So, we need to change two fundamental things. First, customer service representatives need to understand that their role is as a solution maker. They need to be finding ways to make the customer happy. If their cell phone problem relates to a part not being available, offer them an identical loaner. Or, better yet, after week 3 replace their phone.

When I asked for the manager of customer service to make an identical loaner available for El 3atal while he waited on his repair, he actually told me, well, we don't have any of his model in stock as loaners. Well, I really don't care about your internal stocking as the customer, now do I? I explained that he needs to go get one off the shelf then, if they can't simply replace the thing. After it became clear that El 3atal and I were literally not budging until this issue was resolved to our satisfaction, they went up the management chain (which we'd be trying to do for weeks, literally). Turns out they finally decided they could find a replacement phone and would have it on-site the next day along with the parts from El 3atal's old phone that he needed. They did manage to follow through on that and El 3atal has a different phone.

So, the fundamental issues I saw that need to be dealt with are:
  1. Even the customer service MANAGER doesn't understand that customer service means making the customer happy, not foisting them off and telling them to wait
  2. Customer Service representatives are not empowered to take any steps to actually resolve the customer's problem. They are expected to continue in a holding pattern making excuses to the customer.

Customer Service man himself, Khaled, talked in his blog post on why Jordan sucks at Customer Service about how to improve your customer service. While our experience violated most of the points, the most egregious were:

3-Don’t promise unless you WILL deliver:Reliability is one of the keys to any
good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. Think before you
give any promise, because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one. Give
yourself an extra time to allow for surprises.

6-Empower your staff to be (helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable):I think
that is one of the major issues here in Jordan, we need educated our front
office staff and provide them with the right tools to make a decision to solve
issues with our customers, or even empower them to cross sell our products &
services. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and
isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough
information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions.

7-Take that extra step:Make it easier for your customer. Don’t just answer
their question, offer any extra information and suggest better options. We
are not robots, customer sometimes come for the interaction and the atmosphere.
If a customer asked: “where is a good place to eat around here?” engage in a
conversation, ask him what type of food is he looking for, offer options and
propose your favorite.

8-Always throw in something on the House:Make them feel they had a “winner”
experience. A happy customer is as happy as the experience is, no matter how
much money he paid.

So, Khaled and I definitely agree. Customer service in Jordan is sub-par and, by implementing his recommendations, establishments would improve. I hope that those people out there in customer service begin to really get what service is. I know customer-facing organizations in Jordan spend money on customer service training but I begin to wonder is that money well spent? Maybe they need to start asking questions about what that training is really teaching their employees and whether actions are improving. If not, maybe it's time to rethink your development model...

Happy Service Issues!


At 8:35 AM , Anonymous Khaled Elahmad said...


Thanks for the mention. Jordan is improving in CS but there is allot of training needed to maintain the Quality needed in CS.

Kind regards,

Khaled Elahmad

At 11:20 AM , Blogger abu 'n um tulip said...

The problem is not only local. I spend 90 minutes yesterday trying to get a hold of somebody within BMI airlines to find out if my reimbursement claim for our lost stroller had been processed. Talked to a lot of folks in Bangalore and wasted a lot of money on phone calls to London. The local BMI office doesn't handle this area - hmm - guess BMI didn't want to even try having a local office handle customer service? Well, come to find out a check was mailed for a third of the cost of replacing the stroller to our street address! Yeah, not even close to the cost and a check in pounds to a street address. Even if we were to receive it we'd spend have the cost in cashing the check. The people I talked to on the phone were incredibly difficult. I think a big issue is 'chain of command'. The only people you're allowed to talk to really don't care and have nothing at stake. Anywho... Um Tulip

At 2:04 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Khaled, exactly. As long as we keepfor improvement, there's definitely hope.

Um Tulip, I love it. They sent the check to the street address. Where do they think you are? Britain? Teehee.

At 2:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you beat me to the topic of my Thursday post. Thursday is my gripes day, and I had much to gripe about yesterday at a certain electronics store and their customer service. We'll see how the situation at hand pans out and how the blog post pans out. I really should have written it while still hopping mad.

I liked hearing how the two of you stood solid ground until they must budge. Usually you get one of the couple saying, oh honey, don't make an issue out of it. And I really wish some big company would come along with amazing customer service that would force the little guys to take notice and change. I haven't seen that yet.

At 11:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha, Momma! I just reread this post title and was reminded it is time for me to get to the root of my problems, and involves either highlights or a change of color!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home