Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teflon Coated Customer Service?

I am sure that most of us who keep watching commercials on television in India have seen the advertisement for a high end paint which has “Teflon” coating. Saif Ali Khan does a great job of being the brand ambassador for them.

This morning I decided to call them and avail their "Home Solutions" offering which is positioned as a turnkey solution for home painting. After locating their contact number for customer queries on their well designed website, I called them. It was then that it dawned upon me that while their products and solutions appear to be world class their customer service at the contact centre needs an urgent upgrade.

Moment of Truth – Act 1
A rather curt sounding lady answered the phone and when I explained my need she put me on hold by just mumbling “Hold please”. A few seconds later she came back online and gave me 3 local numbers of the Bangalore office and told me to call them.

Moment of Truth – Act 2
The lady who answered the telephone in Bangalore was courteous and when I told her my requirement and that the Mumbai office had given me the contact details, she paused for a minute and gave me another set of numbers to call on. I asked her if that was a different office but she was honest enough to tell me that it was the direct number of her colleague who sat in the same office. She also added that she could not transfer the call.

Moment of truth – Act 3
I make my third telephone call to the company and I speak to the gentleman at the other end of the line. He is truly professional in his approach and is able to answer all my queries. He then tells me that someone from his team would get back to me and set up an appointment. I am almost relieved that I was not given another number to call and set up the appointment.

Moment of truth – Act 4
About an hour later, I receive a call from a local partner of the company and he sets up an appointment for a meeting. He too is courteous and professional in approach. I expect to meet him tomorrow.

The bottom line is that I am still going ahead with them unless something changes drastically. Yet, I am not delighted by them as a prospective customer. If the person who answered my first call had taken my contact details and ensured that the right person had called me it would have been ideal.

As service providers do we sometimes forget the importance of the moment of truth or do we chose to just bury our heads like an ostrich and ignore it? I am sure the companies’ value their customers and would like to delight them but the actual conversion of a prospect into a customer does not always happen because of just your product or service delivery but based on the initial moment of truth.

It is insufficient to have a “Teflon” coated product… you need the same finesse in your customer interaction!

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