"Local" Customer Service - Part II
Part II - Warning: kinda long
So we've kinda hashed out wat being a kama'aina is (should be) all about. We all generally see eye to eye on life on da islands and I wholeheartedly believe it goes into how we were raised. How does it all tie into customer service?
Let me share with you my "opinion" of customer service and all da longtime Kwonics, and everyone in da WWD! Hui of course, will finally realize why I "value" customer service so much. You could say Part I was a prelude to wat goes on in my pupule mind about service.
If you have a job, you're in customer service. The main difference is if you're on the front lines or "administrative" bound. The front lines deal directly with the customer and have personal contact with them while the desk strapped administrator, as you get "promoted", get less and less interactions with the actually customer but in turn the term "customer", turns to employees.
We've all heard the term "customer service" and we all heard it more popularly translated to "service the customer" - that's where I believe it goes all wrong.
Who wants to "service" anybody? Just saying "service" makes people not smile. What if someone told you to service them? No, not da strip bar kine. It just sounds demeaning and has a negative connotation. Try say dat to your significant oddah and see wat happens........ so why would we subject complete strangers to dat?
It really should be a "customer satisfaction rep" or agent or watevah you want to put at da end because what's the numbah one goal for any workah?
To satisfy his/her customer.
Here's where it gets "technical".
To some, you must think that I'm critical of "service" and to a certain extent, I am. I expect a customer satisfaction agent (sounds classy yeah?) to basically do one thing and one thing only - their job and everything that it entails. Nothing more, nothing less.
I am less of an okole of professions I do not know but for da ones I am familiar with, I take particular notice. Take for instance dining in at a restaurant. I expect, yes expect, a smile or at least not an angry face, a greeting of any sort, proper order taking, checking back three times (once after the meal is served to see if anything else is needed, again during the meal for the same reason but also to refill water, lastly, to deliver the check) and a thank you.
That's for the bare minimum of being "satisfied". Why? Cause s/he did their job.... satisfactorily.
Now if our "server" (see how bad dat sounds?) noticed Da Baby and asked if we needed a booster instead of us asking first - that shows a little something. Or maybe even when taking our name down, anticipating our needs by asking if we'd prefer a table or booth (if it's an option) or suggesting an area more suitable for the situation (maybe keiki friendly so away from foot traffic or maybe a cozier table if its a date). How's about refilling bread or salsa or watevah is "complimentary" if it goes out quickly? What about even asking if we wanted all the food out at the same time or salad/app's first then the entree?
Simple things like that is what makes a customer..... more than satisfied. That's going above and beyond the "basics" and as a consumer, we enjoy being thought of instead of waiting for things to happen.
How's about retail satisfaction agents (sounds 007-ish huh)? Sure at minimum they should acknowledge you in the store and most times people deny any help but how's about pointing some things out like a sale rack and what specials are going on instead of just a "Hi, welcome to ______"? Well, actually, I've been seeing a growing trend of an "information person" more often in stores although it appears they designate only one person to be it.
Don't you hate it when you ask if there's any more in stock and they automatically say, "whatever is out on the shelf, that's it." Granted, if they stocked it they would know.... but how do WE know they stocked it? Is it really that cumbersome to just say, "if you have a minute, I can recheck stock for you" and even if you "fake-looked", at least it shows the consumer that you're there to help. But how do you know there wasn't a return? How do know if there was a hold and no one came back to purchase it?
The number one answer to "stock questions" that really gets me is, "YOU can check our other stores, they might have it."
Wassup Wit Dat!
I mean really, do you not want our business? Do you not want to pick up a phone and call another store yourself? Do you not want to check the computer especially if it shows stock from other stores?
It all goes back to "satisfying" the customer because if you left the store at that instant..... did you leave satisfied? Now if you left the store after all the "help"..... would you leave satisfied? Disappointed the item wasn't available but satisfied at the least that resources were checked nonetheless right?
I remember back in the day when retail people would offer to call another store and even have it delivered to the current store so the customer wouldn't have to drive across town to pick it up. I remember when they would actually go into the warehouse and actually look for an item even though there may be a chance there wasn't any. And heaven forbid any suggestions for similar items maybe in a different color or comparable product.
Customer satisfaction is tier-like in the sense that there are some that will think ahead, anticipate the situation and plan or suggest accordingly. There will be those who just offer the "basic plan", those who offer the "gold plan" and those who go out of their way to offer the "premium plan".
Treat others like how you'd want to be treated is always said but not always done and that's another anecdote that while true, is not "serviceable". I think the anecdote should actually be "treat others kindly because it's the right thing to do".
Think about it. If you want to treat someone in a reciprocating fashion, then aren't you just self-satisfying yourself? Those in the customer satisfaction industry should take pride that someone else is satisfied instead of themselves. That's the nature of your JOB. It's not about you, it's about THEM and if you can't get that then I can see why you may not enjoy your job as much.
Sure we need to be satisfied with our jobs as well but that should be the end result of you doing yours. A consumer's job is nothing more than paying money to be satisfied. (Get your heads out of the gutter) And that's why there are people willing to pay more for a higher level of satisfaction (it's still in the gutter).
Now with all that being said, for those who thought I was "upset" about being $2 short a couple blogs back, I hope now you understand that I wasn't upset. I didn't complain about it. I didn't snap at him. I was dissatisfied more than anything. Did I expect him to verify the last receipt by calling Romano's? No. I asked if he could and it would have been nice if he did. Did I ask him to let me slide? No. I explained our situation to him and he wasn't satisfied about it so no deal. Did I expect him to let it slide? No. In fact I was about to leave when I showed him the exchanged receipt. Was the receipts a big deal for the promo? NO. It wasn't photo-copied, it wasn't verified by a manager, it wasn't added up with a calculator tape.... all it was him "seeing" it was $200+ to qualify.
Could he have suggested to me going next door to the Cookie Corner and buying a cookie? Or the ABC Store and buy a water? No, that was the "premium package" which he didn't have membership for.
Customer satisfaction is all about what you can do and da biggest sticking point is if you're willing to do it. When I worked at the ABC Store and a customer wanted a product we were out of, I'd climb the rafters in the storage looking for it and if we didn't have it, I'd call a neighboring store till I found it. I then would run over to the store to pick it up and bring it back for the customer. At times, I'd even deliver it to their hotel.
It was something I could do but more of what I was willing to do.
I could literally write a book about this but it's 2:45am and I have yet to sleep.
Bottom line, what should "customer service" be? Ask yourself, is s/he satisfied and to what degree? Was there more I could do or offer? Am I able and willing to do it? Granted you can't and will not be able to satisfy everyone because of differing standards but at the least.... shouldn't you try?
And of course, I'd like to respond to some comments left earlier that made me ponder:
... I think your presumptions causes your pain ... yeah, you can expect things or people to be a certain way ... but we know things don't always turn out to be what we expected ...
And you're right about that my presumptions causes my own pain. But should I have lower standards than the "basic plan"? While I don't feel like I "expect" much (as noted above) and I get disappointed when I see bad customer service, I was more than willing to let it go cause he was following the "rules" and basically did his job minus the Aloha.
... and the guy didn't cut you slack in meeting the receipt requirements ... maybe he could have or should have given some leeway ... he might have had that discretion, but we really don't know ... you're expecting a level of service he wasn't required to provide ... maybe you could have asked for a supervisor or manager who might have given the ok ... another hard thing to do ...
In truth, I think I was hoping he'd provide a higher level of service but again, was I upset that he didn't? No. Just disappointed. I was dissatisfied with his inter-personal skills though.
And I didn't welcome a Lurkah in the previous blog so E Komo Mai to WWD! pali! He said:
dat kine workers no last too long. dey end up working at one oddah job making da oddah workas miserable because dey miserable to begin wit. ala moana management should step up and train mo bettah. shame dat kine, fo not representin...jus selfish and lazy.
My eyes gravitated to the last three words..... "selfish and lazy". If you have either or both, they are deadly in the customer satisfaction game.
And saving the best for last, changwang said in reference to kama'aina:
i cant describe the "specific" type of local that you ask for. locals come in all shapes and sizes but i am 100% sure they are local. now let me clarify a bit... i'm not saying ALL locals act the way i described earlier but when someone does act that way... more often than not, they are a local....locals have no shame. locals in general play by a different set of rules... they have this "i should be hooked up because i'm local mentality... its like they expect a kama aina discount whereever they go. again, this is not all locals but when someone EXPECTS to be hooked up, its a local.....one more thing, its great that you hooked people up and its really admirable but its apples and oranges when you're on the otherside, EXPECT to be hooked up and get salty about it.
I've never witnessed, experienced or heard of any local being so salty about not getting a kama'aina discount. Now when you say "hooked up", are you saying discount or free? In either case, I don't believe most kama'aina would even expect to get a kama'aina discount outside of Waikiki and even so, we ask if there is a kama'aina discount because businesses have made it so. Now if a business does not offer it in "tourist attractions", I cannot even imagine a kama'aina getting salty about it. If there was one, s/he probably isn't right in their head.
I can only speak for myself although I'm confident most will agree, I don't expect any hookups unless offered in the first place and it's usually by friends anyways. Who in their right mind would ask a complete stranger to "hook them up" unless they have a few coconuts loose in their head? I cannot even begin to fathom any kama'aina acting like that and especially getting salty about it... that doesn't sound right.
you dont need to feel sorry for the way i feel, my observations are my personal experiences and the more you try to argue against it instead of accept it as my own, the more i think you're biased and blinded by local pride. a lot of what you mention illustrates this because you seem to think we have a special type of aloha spirit here. i find that amusing because i have seen the same "aloha spirit" you find so rare, all around the world.
If being biased and blinded by local pride means it protects what Hawai'i has to offer.... then I am biased and FULL of local pride. That same "aloha spirit" you find so rare all around the world, I'm sure they too have the same bias and local pride themselves.
in a way, i guess i'm sorry you blogged about an experience that fell into my generlizations about the way locals act in a specific situation, but my experiences are my experiences. i'd love to take your suggestion and change my ways but then i'd have to agree with your dogma in this entry which i dont.
You sorry that I blogged? Ok. Brah, no one is asking you to change or agree with anything here. If you choose to live and see life as you do now, my only hope is that you do find your Aloha somewhere... as you've made it evidently clear you're not going to find it here. Good luck to you.
when frank de lima says chinese are pake people laugh. when changwang says locals try to game the system the sky begins to fall.
Umm, Frank De Lima is a comedian.... you're dead serious about your interpretations hence any repercussions to that effect.
Mahalos to everyone that shared their mana'o and kept it civil. Muchos Mahalos to changwang and rayboyjr for being da stars da past couple blogs and sharing their own experiences as well.