October 11, 2008

Customer Service – Sri Lankan Style

Sri Lanka, unfortunately, hasn’t yet caught up to the concept of customer service. Most businesses in Sri Lanka operate under something along the lines of "this is my/our business. You can purchase our service from us if you want and if you don’t go somewhere else. We don’t really care!" The customer certainly is not king over here 😀

Of course, things have started to change and in my opinion (which is somewhat limited), one of the best such examples is Sri Lanka Telecom. This is rather surprising given their government organization antecedents (it used to be a government operated body originally) and the fact that some people in Colombo had to wait years to get a telephone connection as short a time as about 10 years ago 🙂

On the other hand, there are organizations such as Dialog which proudly proclaims that their customer service is second to none and that they have won awards for customer service. But when you actually try to get anything done, you find that their customer service reps are untrained, clueless, and are usually afraid to go ahead and make a decision because: a) they are afraid to do so b) they have their boss looking over their shoulder and will censure them if they did actually take initiative.

I have had numerous dealings with Dialog and came away with each and every one of them vaguely unsatisfied. The best I got out of any such encounter was that they would "forward my feedback to management". However, I am not even sure that this feedback was actually sent anywhere (except to the wastepaper bin) because of something else that happened to me recently.

I finally got tired of the inefficiency and money grabbing practices of Dialog that I decided to disconnect my mobile connection with them. I’d had the connection for about six years and had not switched till then because everybody I knew had that mobile number. But enough was enough and I finally decided to switch. When I went to the Dialog arcade to get my connection terminated, the CSR (Customer Support Representative) who was assisting me asked me why I wanted to disconnect. I said, "I am not satisfied with your customer service" and I could see that he was put out by his expression 🙂

Before he could mark that on the disconnection form though (and there was a specific box was "Poor customer service" or something equivalent), he got called in by his boss who was sitting in a cubicle behind him. He is in there for a bit and then comes back out and I notice that the form does not have the "Poor customer service" box checked but instead says that I don’t use the connection anymore. I decided not to make a fuss because I knew that the CSR was simply following the orders of his boss.

Now I don’t know if this is standard Dialog policy or if the managers get reprimanded somehow if a customer disconnects due to dissatisfaction with the service they receive. If the latter is the case, I can understand why they don’t want to put that down. On the other hand, this particular manager might have been acting on his own believing that he was somehow acting in the best interests of the company by not sending negative comments on to the higher management.

Whatever the case maybe, I think that is a very shortsighted policy. If you don’t pass on what is wrong, it will never get rectified and you will continue to live on in your false glow of pride about everything being hunky dory. Of course, given that nobody in Dialog management reads my blog, I don’t think they’ll know about this in any case, or take any action to rectify such shortcomings. But I can at least write about this, especially since something else came up yesterday which made me want to say this 🙂 But this other "something else" will have to wait for another day since this entry is already way too long ….

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Posted by Fahim at 9:12 am  |  No Comments