The Woes of Indian consumers

I agree outsourced customer service compounds the problem of lousy customer service, but then it isn't any better even if the people in question are full-time employees.

But Mitra Kalita does hit home when she says that its about 'empowerment'. 'In my findings so far, the undercurrent of good service is an empowered work force — those who interface with customers have been given the tools, confidence and information from the higher-ups that they can appropriately defuse the situation at hand. Simple but effective. And sadly, very rare. A lack of empowerment is why a waiter cannot give you a free drink or dessert, even as he mixed up your order. Or why the bank declines the signature on your cheque, even though you have proof showing you are who you say you are and verify the amount. Or why a customer service representative directs you to Airtel’s website, which will require you to hope she really text messages your password, instead of sending you a duplicate bill from May.'

I may just add that the 'mantra' to empowerment is 'secure managers'. Most Managers out there live their professional lives in deep insecurity. A state of existence that has them micro-managing with a deep desire to hold all cards to their chests, not letting subordinates share in responsibilities.

Coming back to the issue of sense of ownership that Mitra talks about, I am now completing a week with a dead BSNL phone line. I can't get through to anyone to lodge a complaint. When I finally managed to, which was today, their response was lukewarm to say the least. Their online complaint page doesn't function. The litany of woes seem endless. Just so you don't think this is restricted to Government firms, consider my visit to e-Zone yesterday. Wanting to peer through a glass case just so I could catch a glimpse of a few MP3 players, I came face to face to what can only be described as a herculean task. I had this e-Zone employee firmly planted on top of the case with a voucher book, which he went on to fill, never mind me, thus blocking my vision to what otherwise would have been a gaze at engineering glory.

Frankly, as we know, customer service sucks in India. Maybe 'empowerment' is the answer. Maybe its the stick. Whatever, I think we are a long way away from a time where we as consumers will have this sense of 'delight', post an experience with a product or a service.


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