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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Third World Customer Service

I’ve been a customer service agent once. And those of you who have been one, you’ll understand the mindset I got in terms of the right kind of service customers deserve. Before this, I had been a timid customer and would shut my mouth whenever I got affected by a saleslady’s attitude problem.

The problem I noticed about Filipinos (compared with developed countries like the US, Korea, etc.) are that we are too kind. When I say that, I am not talking about Biblical humility that pleases God. I am talking about opting for complete silence to avoid trouble. We normally hate confrontation. Instead of discussing things with the concerned people, we curse them behind their backs and laugh at them with friends or badmouth about them in Facebook and Twitter.

It could be our more than 300 years of being a colony that up to now, we still have the “slave attitude”. We shut our mouth or else we’ll get into trouble. Or we simply laugh it off.

This is probably the reason why customer service is generally bad in the Philippines. Ask your foreigner friends and they could also tell you the same thing.

I will start with SMART Communications. I thought I was being kind enough by erasing the post I made on FB that expressed so much disappointment in their service; I thought it’d be much better if I emailed them and so I did. Someone (I just hope it was a person who did it, not some computer-generated system) replied, asking for my mobile number. And now I’m rolling my eyes. That was the last I heard from them. I felt neglected and unimportant. SMART is the “largest network in the Philippines”.

I went to buy some prepaid cards at Cell Depot at Island City Mall. I am sometimes paranoid so when I saw that the plastic wrapper of the card was torn at the side, I asked for a replacement (thinking it shouldn’t be much trouble). And I told her I was just following what was written on the back, “DO NOT ACCEPT THIS CARD IF THE PLASTIC WRAPPER IS TORN OR HAS BEEN TAMPERED WITH.” Did I yell at the lady for replacement? NO. Did I do anything unconstitutional? NO. I kindly asked. But she got the card, got another one and said with a frown, “Susmaryosep.” (Jesus, Mary and Joseph).

To rise from being “third world”, I think the system has to work both ways. The government develops projects while we strive for excellence in providing customer service. Think about Cebu Pacific’s shortcomings in their service and NAIA having broken CCTV’s (NAIA charges P200 for domestic terminal fee and P800 for international). The Barreto-Tulfo feud is of course another issue.

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