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Can I hep chew?

July 15, 2008

I conduct a lot of business by phone, including getting my support from a technical help desk. There are a few things that really get my goat whenever I call.

  • An incoherent receptionist.
  • A rude receptionist.
  • Phones that tell you no one’s available and won’t take messages.
  • Getting passed to an extension that no one ever picks up.
  • Put on permanent hold.
  • Getting passed around, and around, and around.
  • A receptionist who asks, “Do you know the extension?”
  • A line that goes dead after the first ring.
  • Leaving a message in a voicemail system that no one ever listens to.
  • And someone who promises to call back but never does.

Here’s a retail branding tip. Your official contact number, service center, walk-in reception, field engineers, are called customer touch points. They are the ones that drive your brand delivery, not your newspaper ads. The fastest way to screw up a premium brand is to create unforgettable “moments of truth” by messing up your touch points. Sometimes you don’t get second chances.

Last week I went to an MNC for a meeting. Its a Fortune 500 company that used to be the lead brand in its category. It was 2.15 pm, prime time for business. The receptionist was munching pizza. The box, plate and soda was sitting on the counter top. She was too busy playing with her cellphone to notice me. Employees walked in and out, some busy chatting away, paying no attention to the state of the reception area. No one stopped to ask me if I needed help.

A senior manager came to rescue me, simply because he recognized me from a distance. He was apologetic but clearly none of the staff shared his feelings.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2008 10:13 am

    Frontliners in Malaysia are the worst bunch of people I’ve ever met and spoken to. So God damn unprofessional, especially when there are customers around. I’ve had one too many experiences, and yes Damien, I have been into an office where the receptionist is painting her nails not giving two hoots about you standing there. Sometimes I just want to climb in there, paint their face with the nail polish and bitch slap them. =/

    There was once I called a this company and I got passed on from one person to the other like 4-5 times (NOT exaggerating) an every single time they say, “Can I help you?” I would explain my situation/problem then they would say, “Oh, I’ll pass you to so and so? I would end up explaining myself over and over and over again.

    This is why I loath Malaysian front liners.

  2. July 15, 2008 11:25 am

    I come across these:

    1. Receptionist who do not know how to pass the line, got disconnected. MNC Bank too.

    2. When pick up the phone, still laughing and yakking with her colleagues. MNC Bank too

    Very sad with our phone service here.

  3. LC Teh permalink
    July 15, 2008 11:41 am

    I once went to an interview for a job at an MNC. The interview was pretty brief, but even before it was over and I was still in the room, a few other employees who looked like they were executives came in to discuss, of all things, an upcoming badminton game with the HR manager. That was about 3.00pm on a working day. Where I came from, discussions about anything else other than work had to be done after office hours. It wouldn’t look so bad if my interviewer had told me the interview was over, but he didn’t. So, I just sat there and listened. When people can be so relaxed on a job, it’s a bad sign. I was glad I didn’t get that job. A year or so later they closed shop and went south.

    Some of these are signs of a company that will soon be ‘used-to-be’.

  4. Damien permalink*
    July 15, 2008 10:58 pm

    @dee, your experience sounds all too familiar. For a region so steeped in cultural heritage, I’m just appalled at the Asian attitude to service. But I should be fair and say the most courteous Asian service I’ve experienced so far is in Indonesia, Thailand and some parts of Cambodia. The rest is pffft.

    @mybabybay, I had a similar experience with one guy a few times so I lodged a complaint to the manager and guess what. She didn’t do a thing about it cause the same guy with the same attitude picked up my call months later.

    @LC, yes those are definitely signs. In the US some companies try to loosen things up by creating semi-formal work environments but its always done with an assumption that common sense prevails. Interrupting a formal meeting like an interview with entertainment talk is revealing. Its just as well you didn’t get that job.

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