Monday, May 30, 2011

My Best Customer Care Experiences

These are personal experiences and have no bearing on the organization. Most of them are those moments when I suddenly found an experience which I did not expect, a response that make me happy and taken care of, a response that made me feel a great loyalty to the provider. Most times it was just another person across the table who had imbibed the spirit of service and who was doing her best for the customer, for the organization. Sadly I had to wrack my mind to come up 10 experiences - I either tend to forget the good ones or there are really no good ones - I don't know. You tell me if you you can come up with 10 good customer care experiences and I will know if I am the exception.

1) Lufthansa: Nothing beats this experience of mine. In the year 1997 or so my mother, a first time flyer went to the USA aboard a Lufthansa flight to visit her nephew. She was very nervous and almost wanted to cancel the whole trip at the airport. She did not know much English, had been a housewife all her life - but she had the spirit of a warrior queen about her - so she did. I was concerned about her well being because she had to first figure out her way inside the Mumbai International airport past all the checks and then change flights at Frankfurt. I was worried that she might just be wandering around the Mumbai airport itself! The first thing I did when I reached my office at 9 a.m. the next morning was to call Lufthansa if all was going well. I was just sick with worry. Now in Mumbai nothing starts as early as 9 and I would have perfectly understood it if no one picked up the phone. But someone did. A lady. I told her that my mother was on a flight that left last night to New York and I wanted to know if they could tell me that all was well with her since she was a first time flyer. Did she check in at all? I had no ticket number, no flight number nothing - just a name. And I had rung up the first Lufthansa number I got. 'Just hold on a minute sir,' she said even as I waited for her to tell me to call the marketing office at 1030 or to speak to someone else and first get all the details of the passenger. Nothing like that. In five minutes she was back, telling me that my mother has arrived in Frankfurt (aaah!) and what's more, she even said that she had checked into the Frankfurt-New York flight and was seated inside the flight as we speak. If I could see her, the lady on the phone, I'd have given her a big hug! I could not believe it - one call, with no information from my side, at an early hour and one lady who picks up the phone tells me all this. Wow! To me that remains the epitome of customer service in my experience when the person on the line assumes the face and responsibility of the organisation and delivers - maybe beyond their call of duty. Fantastic!! I will never know who she was but madam whoever you are, great job!

2) Westside: This experience happened as recently as two years ago and I was really impressed with this boy. I bought a pair of trousers and gave them for alterations. When I came back an hour later for the trousers the boys at the counter said that the tailor had not yet come and could I come back in the evening. I told them a bit exasperatedly that I could not keep making trips for my trousers like this and why don't they deliver it at home. The senior guy at the counter looked quite reluctant but the other boy said he would. He took down my number and address and said he would deliver it after work. And so he did, even coming to another place where I was at the appointed time and giving the parcel over to me with a smile. I forget his name, and I do wish I had taken it and written to the store about his work, but anyway, with an attitude and work ethic like that, he will need no testimonials to grow. But that experience also amazed me in a world where we have an increasing number of people who shrug and cite company policy or some stupid excuse. One reason for me patronising Westside to this day remains my experience with that boy who I do not remember - but I do remember his act.

3) Mohini Restaurant: I forget his name, Nanju, was it, but he is one who has single handedly made Mohini one of my favourite restaurants in those days. Mohini restaurnat, Basheerbagh, has been around sicne my school days but it served some superb biryani during the days I was at IDBI (it does not anymore, sadly the biryani has lost its touch). This waiter Nanju, a senior chap, would come up, take care to see that you were seated well, remember to serve you some good stuff, always polite, always making you feel special, remembering your friends and associates who came with you, and doing that extra  that makes you feel wanted in that place. For over fifteen years I have seen him and nothing has changed in his manner, and unfortunately I do not go to Mohini because they do not serve as good a biryani as I enjoyed those days, I always stop by just to say hello to Nanju. He is good at making one feel special and not just me, a whole lot of people vouch by him. 'I can deliver it at home if you want saab,' he says. I hear that this man also does a lot of charity work from his modest earnings. But for customer service that goes beyond his calling, Nanju stands up there.

4) AP Telecom, Vikram Building counter, Hyderabad: When AP Telecom computerised its billing, the end of those long lines was expected. Earlier, in the same Vikram building, one would have to queue up in serpentine queues that came up to the road - a distance of almost 500-700 yards. Policemen had to be deployed to keep order and we would lose more than an hour in queues, and our tempers of course. When their swanky new set up came up, it was like a dream. The chaps at the counter were so fast that you never knew if you were coming or going, that quick. The moment you pass the bill they'd scan it and by the time your money was coming up, their hands were out reaching for the money, tearing out the receipt and, next! It was really something and I am yet to see that kind of speed in billing anywhere. Almost like they had the fastest draws in that counter. Super stuff. I could park my scooter outside the building and be out with a receipt within 3 minutes!

5) Indian Oil, Somajiguda: I forget the name of this filling station but from the day I have started using it, I have been a die hard fan. It is a small no-nonsense bunk right at the Somajiguda circle, beside the Hindu office. The boys there do not dawdle or chat among themselves as in most other bunks but are always alert for customers, a result of good training and management perspective. The seniors are always guiding the vehicles in as they come in, there is not a moment's delay more than required, a chap with a windscreen cleaner is almost always there to clean it up, the procedure of showing zero before filling is always followed (some bunks do not), the chap at the air filling station is always there and doing his job very pleasantly even at late hours. The quantity of petrol you realise pretty soon, is correct, and the quality shows in your engine's running and smoothness. I pass at least seven bunks much closer to my house, 3 within 500 meters of my house, to go to this place. All things are just right, and one gets a thank you and a smile more often than not. This is what they are expected to do and they do it, night and day, without letting up in spite of heavy traffic. Where I saw this bunk go the extra mile was when Shobha had a flat on her scooter in the bunk. The manager asked her to sit in the office while they sent a boy to get the puncture done! Good stuff guys!

I am scratching my head right now for more, and I am sure there are many, but until then these occupy pride of place. I have to constantly put away bad customer care experiences of which there are many!

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