Thursday, March 29, 2007

Customer Service Experience

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, customer service is not a forte of many Chinese businesses. That said, some service industries way outstrip anything that British businesses can do.

Good customer service experiences can be had from and in-call service. For example, my Internet connection died over Chinese New Year. I can guess what the experience might have been in the UK during Christmas.
1. Depending on your ISP (and whether they've outsourced the call centre to Bangalore) you might just get a recorded message suggesting that everyone is partying and will get to you at some point.
2. If you do get through and they determine that its not a configuration problem and you need an engineer they will make an appointment for an engineer from another company to come, quite possibly for a hefty fee. Being a public holiday though, you'll be without service for several days until everyone's back to work and the backlog is cleared.

Compare that to the China experience.
1. Place call which is answered promptly. Determine that it is not an accounts receivable problem on their part and they will despatch an engineer to site, even though it's a public holiday.
2. 10 minutes later, receive call from engineer to say he's outside and to reconfirm address. Engineer arrives, fixes problem (which he says was caused by my wireless router and not their equipment) at no cost and leaves.

The China scenario would simply be unbelievable in the UK. It just couldn't be done.

Sadly, my experience in B&Q (a British DIY chain) was more like the UK experience.
1. Take purchase to check-out (it was very early so I avoided the normal 'joining the shorter of 2 queues only to find that the person in front of me has 12 items they wil have to look up in the pricing book - I always wondered if the name 'Be and Queue' was deliberately ironic).
2. Locate checkout staff who are mysteriously absent.
3. They scan your 3 purchases and 1 of them doesn't have a price in the computer.
4. Staff go to rush to the aisle where the item came from. I tell them they're 1.29 each. They go anyway.
5. Staff return and huddle round the computerised till and proudly state 'we don't sell these - they're not in the computer'.
6. I counter with 'you're a shop, you have goods, you know the price, I have money'
7. They 'mei banfa' me and that's that.

An attempt to suggest that their manager would probably like them to sell me the goods, take my money and reconcile it later al seems too complicated so I give up and leave.

So, at least a British firm in China can uphold its core customer service values...


mike said...

Yes yes, shocking... but what's the latest on the Hangzhou Tea/Wee scandal? We need to know!

NewsElephant said...

Mei Banfa?
Beautiful expansive hair?
Is that a compliment as most laowai are balding?

DB said...

Ooh - I've been meaning to post on the Tea/Wee scandal since I read it in the paper - the huge Hangzhou City Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital next to my apartment was implicated.

没办法 - It means 'no way' but figuratively it means 'I couldn't give a frack'.

HistoryElephant said...

Somehow I'm not so troubled by the idea that a 'traditional' Chinese medicine hospital can't tell wee from tea.

Long years ago, my physics teacher at school told us about how, when he was a medical student, they used taste urine samples - if it was sweet it indicated the presence of sugar which was symptomatic of diabetes.

basil said...

so what does 'mei banfa' mean?