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How to get good service

Service in South Africa is less than consistent.   Every day, we have to deal with people who have little or no interest in providing a great customer experience.

So how do you raise your happiness level and get better service most of the time.   I have been conducting a personal survey into this and have found the following:
  • Shout, bully and demand and, under certain circumstances, you get faster service, not necessarily better, but you move up the ladder
  • Wait to be served, and you will wait a long time
  • Polite and assertive behaviour, on balance, gets the best results
Sometimes, I feel that the power has shifted.   In other words, as a consumer, it seems to be up to me to greet the service provider first, be absolutely charming, ask nicely for whatever it is I want, and thank them graciously after receiving unfriendly service.

The counter of this is that when I receive great service, I keep going back, even if the product is not as good!

Under promise and over deliver!   The front office staff and sales people often sincerely promise great service and delivery, but do not ensure that it is either possible or standard practice behind the scenes.

A few simple tips:

  • When making a large purchase, ask for references, and double check the integrity of the referrals ie not family members or buddies.
  • When the power is in the hands of the provider eg on a hospital ward, be friendly, be firm, be appreciative, smile a lot, and, if you are a frequent visitor, send a thank you gift 
  • When the person you are dealing with to resolve a problem has no real power, ask for a manager
    • If no manager is forthcoming, ask what the best way forward is, and let them give you a response, rather than telling them what you want
  • Document your progress in writing, politely and clearly, use bullet form, so it is easy to read and send them to the person you are dealing with, and their line manager, if known.
There are times when the service is so bad, over such a long period, that polite, assertive behaviour is just not enough.   Many larger companies have distanced their management from direct client interaction eg cell phone companies.   It is almost impossible to speak to a manager if you are unhappy with service.

As a consumer, you can vote with your feet, and move to another supplier, but this can be very expensive or you can choose to publish your complaint either on their website or publicly.   This usually garners a quick response from senior management.

We all deserve to get great service and be treated with respect.   There is no doubt that money and power help, which is why the famous ask "do you know who I am" when they want service delivery.  It shouldn't be necessary.   As consumers and suppliers, consistent standards create positive relationships.   Wouldn't it be nice if every interaction with a supplier started with a warm greeting, and ended with a result or a plan for the next steps?   As well as, "thank you for being our client, we appreciate you."

While we wait with bated breath for the thank you's from our suppliers, I have found that thanking companies in writing for great service has noticeably improved the service I receive.  We have some wonderful clients at +Accsys (Pty) Ltd who regularly let us know about great service from our staff, and we really appreciate the feedback.

I would love to know if you have had either positive or negative experiences, and how you handled them.

Links, Notes and References


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