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Good Customer Service

How many times have we yearned for good customer service in this country and compare the state of customer service in this country to those in other countries? Countless times, if you ask me. Let’s face it, most companies in the country don’t even know what customer service is!!! So I was pleasantly surprised with what I just encountered with YTL Communications when I had some problems with their “YES” network.

I have a long history with YES, well as long as its existence which isn’t really that long, about 11 months. I was one of the first to sign up. I won’t go into the specifics into what happened, but it was definitely a big “NO”!!!  So I wrote a three page letter to Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, and guess what? He showed it to his management team and lambasted them, from what I was told. YTL then went on to outsource their operations to Exchanging, a UK based outsourcing outfit, and the service improved by leaps and bounds!!!

I must say that I rarely have problems with the service, and the speed, blazing fast!!! I get as fast as 12 Mbit per second, especially when I am high up on the 21st floor of my apartment!!! And now with the introduction of two fixed price packages instead of just the pre-paid method, I am paying much less than all the other service providers at much higher speed!!! I don’t know about that so called high speed service offered by that giant dinosaur (is that an oxymoron?), but if you ask me, dinosaurs are generally slow!! And why would I need another TV service when I already have satellite TV? And the future is mobile broadband folks, not wired broadband. After all the expensive “Mat Salleh” consultants hired, still don’t understand!!

With YES, if you also buy the VOIP phone, you can make calls to anywhere in the world for 9 sen a minute. Anybody can beat that?? And by taking the fixed package of RM68 per 30 days, I get RM132 worth of service for almost half the cost.

Anyway, back to customer service. The last one week I have noticed that smses sent to my YES phone or sent by my YES phone seem to take ages to arrive. So today, I decided to send an e-mail to the CEO of YTL Comms, Mr Wing K Lee. He responded within 1 hour even though he was overseas, and told me that he has instructed his team to look into the problem. And in less than 1 hour I received 2 smses, one to my Celcom phone and one to my YES phone. After a few smses back and forth between me and the support staff, he managed to diagnose the problem and even offered to give me a new phone if the problem cannot be solved. NOW, THAT’S CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!

So to the businesses out there, customer service though a cost to running the business, can make a lot of difference, not only to attract new customers but also to retain customers. Why is it so difficult for companies to spend money on good customer service?

1.  A lot of companies are run or owned by morons who are only interested in maximizing profits.

2.  A lot of CEOs don’t understand the role of customer service in enhancing business reputation, thus profit.

3.  A lot of CEOs just see customer service as unnecessary cost to the business, therefore not spending enough to improve customer service

In today’s business environment, it is all about service, thus the term “service differentiation”. You have to be one step ahead of your competitors.

I want to give another example of good customer service. This time in the banking sector. I will relate my experience of banking with 2 of the largest banking group in the country. One, we shall call it Bank M and the other one Bank C. Bank M has always been the largest. Bank C started out big, got lots of scandals, lost lots of money and then taken over by small investment bank.

My first bank account is with Bank M, because when you first start your first job, you want to have a bank that is the largest, so that your first pay-cheque don’t go missing mah!! Then when I started my third job, I opened an account with Bank C, which was called Bank B then. No choice, because my employer pay salary through Bank B. And that began what I called a “relationship” with my bank. Why do I call it a “relationship”? Because the bank started courting me. Why? Because I was the Finance and Administration Manager of the company, big title twenty years ago!! The branch manager of Bank B offered me all sorts of facilities (no hanky panky, ok!!!). But Bank B was a terrible bank. Despite all the facilities, it was still a lousy bank. The branches looked drab, the staff manning the counter looked at you like the first time your mother-in-law looked at you! “This idiot wants to marry my daughter!” But I still bank with them while keeping the other account with Bank M.

Years, and years later, after the Asian Financial Crisis, the banking consolidation and everything that the excellent Governor of Bank Negara (sometimes you need a woman to fix thing!!) has thrown at the bank, Bank B became Bank C. Normally its bad when you get a “C” after a “B”, but this bank has changed beyond recognition. It is not only plastic surgery at the best, but the mind and soul also transformed!!! To CEOs who are busy touting their transformation programs, it is not just the looks that need transforming, it is the transformation of the mind and soul that will really make the difference!!! Duh!!!!!

So back to the two banks, let me relate just two of my experiences dealing with them. First Bank C. I received my Visa Infinite and Mastercard World (without even applying for them mind you!), from them and I noticed that the security numbers at the back (that three digit number la!!!) being blur. I could hardly make them out and I wanted to register the cards for online transactions. So I called the bank’s call centre. And the guy who answered the phone spent a good 20 minutes, going through all the processes to help me identify the numbers, in the most pleasant manner. Great customer service!!

Now Bank M. Very good online facility, probably the best in the country. Lately I noticed that at the end of every month (salary time), I had problems logging in. So one day, after failing to log on after many attempts, and even when I did manage to log on, I could not complete my transaction, I called the call centre. Answered by a female agent (we do call them agents in the call centre business ok!!). So they are not the James Bond type!!!

And what did she tell me, “Oh yes sir, we always have this problem at the end of the month because we are paying the salaries of the government servants during that time. Just keep trying.” She was pleasant, and so I just thanked her and put down the phone.

Both good customer service, but one solved your problem, the other one confirmed that they have a problem and can’t solve the problem!!! 

Believe me, I have many more instances of dealing with these two banks, and I can only say that one transformed not only their looks, but also their mind and soul, the other one only their looks!

So to those CEOs out there running big companies, driving big cars, living in big bungalows, married to big wives (or husbands), have big fat wallets (or handbags), and BIG on transformation, please remember it is the transformation of the mind and soul that really makes the difference, not the new logos, new corporate neckties (or scarves) or new vision and mission. Corporate Malaysia, please stop the “Form over Substance” mentality!!!

Apple (the company not the fruit) succeeded because they have good products, and the most innovative company in the world, not because of its logo!

I am not an Apple user, because I am a tinkerer. You can’t tinker with those damned toys (toys, that’s what they are!!!). But I admire the company and the man who founded it (R.I.P. Steve Jobs). Steve Jobs was an asshole of a man, but a genius!!! He understood what people need, and he treated his customers like idiots who know nuts about the workings of computers. They wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a RAM (not a sheep ok!) chip and a graphic card. Many don’t even know what a motherboard is (not the ironing board that your mother use!) But they can use the Apple toys brilliantly!!!

So to those CEOs still BIG on transformation (everything is about transformation these days, that even the government has got onto the band-wagon!), you don’t need highly paid Chief Transformation Officer (I thought that CTO is the robot that leads the Transformers in the movie!!) or programs with long acronyms (what’s with all the acronyms in Malaysia, PPSMI, ETP, MBMMBI!!!), what you need is common and business sense and the genuine believe in changing the attitude of your people.  And know what your customer need!!!



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