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A Service Call?

“Samsung Service, Good Afternoon!” That’s a fair start, I thought.

The caller’s requirement – Location of their smartphone service center at Cochin (given the number of phones being sold these days they would certainly have more than one in the city.)

“I am calling from Cochin. Can you give me the address of your Service Centre here?”

“Certainly, Sir; but can I take a few details in order to help you?”

“Sure, go ahead” said I.

These are the questions he asked:

“May I know your name, please?” (Valid question .., Answered.)

“What is your contact number?” (Was answered too)

“What is your alternate number?”

“Hello! Why would you need that? Sorry! Can’t tell you that.”

“What is your email ID?”

By now I was really worked up – puffs of smoke emanated from my nostrils each time I exhaled.

“Why do you need an email ID to tell me the location of your service center?”

This guy had the cheek to say – “We want to send you details regarding our products and offers.”

“Excuse me! I did not call you for offers. Are you going to give me the address or shall I cut the call?”

The man is not fazed, nor is he apologetic; he just carries on …

“What phone are you using?

I replied “Samsung Galaxy Note – the first model, not the new one”. That was sufficient, or so I thought.

“What is the model number?” (I obliged)

“When did you buy it?” I really lost it – was just a blink away from having a blue fit.

“Are you going to give me the details or not?” This question was delivered with a lot of self-restraint.

“Sir, what is your Pin Code?”

I told him because that would help him identify the location nearest to me. After a few seconds:

“Sir, you can go to Muvattupuzha … please take down the address and phone number!”

I exploded, could not stay composed after that.

“Muvattupuzha is 50 kilometres away, my friend!!”

I had added a few kilometers to give a round number but it was a different city, a suburban town actually. I was located in the heart of Cochin and there were at least 2 – 3 Service Points in this city.

“I thought you had confirmed my location with the Pin Code; why are you asking me to travel to another city? I am sure you have centers here.”

“Sir, can I place you on hold while I get the details?” grudgingly I agreed.

I waited for a minute and a half listening to some terrible tune and then cut the call.

The Service Center had my phone number and email ID but they did not call back to apologise and provide details did and I got no email with the necessary information.

–          Isn’t this a lesson for people involved in Service?

–          Can you permit the Service Staff to get away with such behavior?

–          Should you be training your Service Staff to do this?

–          I am aware that gathering information is important, but how much?

Is it necessary to complete the drill when a customer is in desperate need of support? What was the Agent thinking about when he behaved this way? I thought to myself wouldn’t he get worked up if he walked into a hospital with an emergency and the doctor started asking a lot of questions instead of starting the treatment?  Would he understand and accept that these formalities need to be completed before anything can be done?

Shouldn’t the Agent have done some thinking on the feet and changed the script and behavior? He did nothing to empathise with my concern – just went on like an automaton.

And here is the funny bit in this story – the phone isn’t mine. I had taken up this task to help a friend. He laughed when I narrated the incident and quipped “Well, you got an article for your blog!” He knew me too well. Later we got the address of Service Point by approaching one of the retailers who sold phones.

Opportunity knocks just once they say …. I say, that the Customer calls just once!

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  1. February 26, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Good One.I have experienced the same.

  2. February 26, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Well J, aren’t most services like this these days? And they also always try to load some extra expenditure onto the customer. Even a luxury brand like Jaguar fares no better! We had a problem connecting the new phone to the Bluetooth system in the car….for some reason it was refusing to pair with the phone. We asked the service department for help and they just nodded their heads sagely and said : ” oh, this happens sometimes . We don’t know why”! It’s been more than six months and there’s be no move from their side to fix the problem. Poor service has become a contagious disease.

    • JayadevM
      February 26, 2013 at 6:28 am

      That’s true, Raji. Poor service has become the norm.

      “Customer is King” is outdated.

  3. February 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Call centres – the bane of service industry! The same for every product be it banks/airlines/isp. Tragic

    • JayadevM
      February 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Yes, organizations seem to be ignoring this Mission Critical element of their business, viz. Service!

      Its shocking to hear people say that Poor Service is the norm … people seem to be resigned to it.

  4. Biju Krishnan
    February 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Check out this link. It may not have a direct link to the service call incident but very relevant if some Company felt that “Customer is King” is outdated. The power of social media is here to stay – a real alternative to move some of those stubborn Companies.
    http://socialmediarisk.com/2010/03/case-study-united-airlines-loses-millions-on-social-media/

    • JayadevM
      February 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Biju

      That was an excellent way to bring errant companies back to their senses … it also tells customers that they are powerful and can take on even the biggest organisations in the world.The connected world can bring send bad news right across the world in a few seconds.

      I have not stopped believing that Customer is king … and companies would do well to remember that. Although the incident isn’t about a Service Call it certainly is about bad service.

      More customers would do this in the days ahead because they are conscious of their rights and won’t take things lying down, like in the past.

      Didn’t we read a poem at school .. for want of a nail a battle was lost! United lost the plot and paid for it in millions.

      I am glad Dave Caroll showed the world that we need to fight injustice when we see it and demand fair treatment …. Let’s raise a toast to customers all over. Let companies remember that its the customer that keeps them alive.

      Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. February 27, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Great article Jay. If my colleagues working in the Concierge or Reservations department were to behave similarly, the resort would run out of business within a week and the General Manager would be the first one to get fired for having hired, trained and tolerated incompetent personnel.

    Jay, I recently had a potential guest who wanted to know if there are any beach restaurants or shacks nearby serving local food. Essentially, there are only 2 of them that are within 5 minutes walking distance, but instead of saying there are only 2 nearby, I gave the customer information about all the casual outlets within 15 minutes walking distance starting with the one that was farthest away and since all were different from each other in their own unique ways, it was easy to give quick intros to all of them.

    The priority was to respond to the customer’s immediate need of having the comfort of exploring casual fare dining options near the hotel during his stay which was fully covered and on top of that, he was now fully convinced that there was a whole lot of variety involved as well in this low budget option. The guest has booked a 7-night stay with us for May this year and I am eagerly looking forward to meeting him in person- he wants me to join him for a few rum n cokes in one of the shacks that provides weekend entertainment as well.

    I did not ask the guest too many nagging details, instead was proactive and gave all possible information I could research and come up with and at the end queried if it was satisfactory or if there was more I could do to assist. Everything else fell in place and we have been exchanging emails since then.

    Jay, what a lot of people forget is that each and every customer needs to be treated differently according to their needs and wants, not according to how you want them to be….the latter is the biggest mistake you can ever make like the dumbo you were referring to in your article.

    Great read again Jay!

    • JayadevM
      February 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Hi Jamy

      As usual, being in the hospitality business you somehow manage to go the extra mile … I guess its because you are aware of the consequences of poor service, you care and you want to use the positive impact that is generated by proactive service. you have learned it and now your are way above being competent on that trait.

      Many organisations do not understand that service is mission critical and mess it up real bad.

      I have sent my article to the top team of Samsung in India. Waiting for their response.

      Thank you yet again for the detailed response containing a relevant anecdote.

  6. Harishankar.
    February 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Hello Jayadev. Reading your article gives me a sense of Deja Vu.. not the article but the experience… I had quite the same experience with the same Company. And have you tried writing to any of these companies? I will bet you a fortune that you do not get a single email address to correspond to. All you get is a web feedback page, which I finally used. I did get some results, but I am left convinced that a majority of these companies are running in the ‘sell and forget’ realm. Consumers need to organize to bring these goons to the table.

    • JayadevM
      February 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Hari

      It is sad to hear all respondent concurring with me. It would be great to find out how big the problem is. They must be inundated with complaints from irate and disappointed customers.

      I did hear from a friend who said that he got a resolution after writing to a senior official, using the email ID giving at the website.

      Let us hope as customers that companies learn from their lapses and change their act

  7. February 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Jayadev, Samsung India are shameless cheaters.

    I will try to put it short and sweet.

    1. 16 May 2012: I bought a Galaxy Note (N7000).

    2. I tried to register my purchase at Samsung ‘Promo site as my purchase is eligible for a free Sennheiser headphone (it had to be bought between 15-Apr-2102 and 31-May-2012). The site rejects my entry.

    3. I tried to speak to Samsung and they pass the buck to Mobile Store. Mobile Store wrote separately to them and also uploaded a copy of their Invoice No.31093/6237032 dated 16-May-2012.

    4. Now Samsung keeps me shuttling from one department to the other, ‘Promo’ to mobiles, to whatnot. It happens around 13 times over next three days.

    5. I receive at least three calls to upload the invoice and I do that each time.

    6. it drags on till July 2012. The total calls to them must have added up to 25 or so. I am fed up and try to tell Samsung how I have purchased at least 10 phones from Samsung since 2004 and still own 3 of them (none of it cheap either) and how could they do this to me? They ask me to upload the invoice again which they claimed will be forwarded to their Mobile division.

    7. Nothing happens. Remember, I had to put up with all that shit you’ve written in your revelatory post nearly every time.

    8. I realise I am wasting my time. I also realise how I influenced hoards of my acquaintances to buy the expensive Galaxy range. Now many of them are cursing me as Samsung India does not update the Android OS on Indian phones even though they happily oblige the buyers of the developed world. Meanwhile, Sony. LG etc have upgraded their older modles to new versions of the OS. For the sake of sanity, I quit.

    9. obviously, Indian customers have no value in their eyes.

    Sorry for the bilge, but yes, that is how disgusted I am with them.

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