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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Incapacitating Frontliners

There was a time when Customer Service is the end-all of customer woes (as long as the product or service is returned... and refunded...most probably if you're lucky). You go to the counter where a sign reads "customer service" and vent bad air as much or as long as you can handle the wit (or lack of it) of the person (probably a clone, a puppet, or something more idiotically similar) before you. Anyway, in most instances, all you really want is justice be given to you... although in the deep recesses of your mind, you're aware you've been had big time... lost time and effort, dampened and crushed or crushed then flooded expectations, lost hope, time wastage, crumbling opportunities, the end of the world...

I am exaggerating but when you're a micro-small-time-true-to-form-TQM-not-here-for-the-money-only entrepreneur like me, this bleak doomsday scenario happens a lot of times. (I've been dead a lot of times, too, I keep wondering what's this zombie doin' here!)

So yes, I am just having another survival-day with the bank (again, again) and it's not doing me good. I received more than a month ago this
bluffing me about being a "valued member" (my ***) and all that bs... but now that I call on my bank branch - Banco de Oro -West Avenue-Del Monte - (I don't have the temerity and strength to face their frontliners whom my sister who works with another bank suggested I could have fired especially now that there's retrenchment, if only I'd want to) - they send me to their magical, centralized Customer Service System 631-8000. You get lucky if you get a ring, luckier if you get connected to a working "key" or extension number, luckier still to be able to talk to a CSR who can answer your queries and blessed if you are able to get sense and results out of the dialogue. That's streamlining and centralization working for the depositor nowadays. Talk about technology, speed and the power of the fingertips.

Honestly, I want the most remote ways of customer service - you talk to a person in the branch where product or service is availed, she finds the right person to talk to, then settle your problem. After all, they said they find ways, and all those taglines to catch fancy... It's time to work, fellas. Instead of centralizing, educate your frontliners so they can advance their knowledge and skills, satisfy your walk-in (and existing) customers, and attract more customers by word-of-mouth. One workshop every 6 months won't hurt the ROIs as much as a Lehman Brothers did... (perhaps I should venture into business consultation career instead?). It's also time big and medium businesses learn their lessons.

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