I easily get pissed off with poor service or bad products. I do not take it sitting down. I get on the offensive. I believe that the customer is king.
In 1975, my International Harvester (IH) SUV developed cracks in its exhaust pipe. I brought it to the IH service center, but was told it couldn’t be serviced because they had no parts.
I was so frustrated I decided to write a nasty letter to the president of IH in the US. I told him how my SUV had been denied service, so I brought it to my neighborhood talyer where a friendly mekaniko did a great job fixing my SUV tail pipe.
Days later, I got a call from the IH service center requesting me to bring my SUV so they could fix it. Nasermonan sila ni Boss. Na-bullsh..t sila ng big boss nila sa States.
Service excellence is the hallmark of American businesses. Excellent service in their stores, restaurants, repair shops and maintenance outfits. It’s what makes Americans highly competitive. It’s what makes their customers happy and loyal to their brands. It’s what makes American products dominate the manufacturing and marketing businesses around the world.
Tell an American waiter that the hamburger tastes blah and he’ll quickly replace the order, with an apology to boot. Return a newly bought pair of shorts because the waistband is loose and the store will quickly change it.
In America, customers are sticklers for value for money.
They complain a lot if they get a bum deal. Store managers and service maintenance men know it. It’s called “The Customer Is Always Right” rule. In the Philippines, “Ay, hindi pupwidi, kasi polisi ng manidsmint. No retarn. No ekstsens.”
Nothing beats the bad experience I had in a Makati equipment store years ago. I was shopping for a camera and asked the girl in the counter the price. She looked at the direction where a group of salesmen huddled and she hollered, “Koya, magkano daw ang Kudak?”
Flustered, I asked for the product features and she hollered again, “Koya, petyors daw!”
Irritated, I tried asking the girl for the product brochure, and she hollered again, “Brasyirs daw!”
Before the koya could come, I walked out, mad as hell, swearing never to set foot in that store again.
Our domestic airline travel is in a huge mess. It is caused by overbooking of bargain airline seats and limited airport systems capabilities. The current chaos and long delayed flights bring unspeakable suffering to hapless passengers.
Over-the-counter airline people are ill-prepared to handle irate passengers who have missed their flights or get delayed for as long as eight hours. The airport mess is so bad that transport authorities were forced to draft and enforce the rights and privileges of airline passengers, with corresponding sanctions for failure to comply.
I remember LTB Co. and BLTB Co., the transport buses of my youth. They monopolized transport in the provinces of Laguna, Tayabas and Batangas. Their buses were designed badly. They were built with seven-a-row ipud-ipod (move-move), hard seats from one side to the other side of the bus. All passengers sat abreast of each other. There was no middle aisle, and the ceiling was very low.
If a female passenger was going to alight she had to bend low to avoid bumping her head against the ceiling. She had to wiggle her body out, stepped on a toe or two of her seatmates. She needed acrobatic skills to get down from the side rails. But people got used to it. They never complained.
At that time in America the Greyhound coaches gave travelers soft leather seats with space in the aisle and air-conditioned comfort.
Today, our buses are almost like coaches for tourists with TV, air-condition, and soft seats. We’ve done some catching up.
Excellent service is not limited to service staff. It goes all the way back to product quality test, package, and service designs. A company does not stop improving its products. Competition is the name of the game.
Take mobile phones, iPods, PCs and laptops. There’s a new model every year with new features for better efficiencies and more time-saving devices. It’s the same with cars, appliances and furniture. It’s the same with home-beautiful needs, toilet bowl and lavatory designs, shower heads, Jacuzzi tubs, and tempered glass shower rooms. Everything looks fashionable.
Most branded hotels find it necessary to do total renovations every 15 years, or else, they lose customers to the new tall, glass and glitzy hotels around the corner.
The constant pursuit of service and product excellence works. I know this from experience. In the ’80s, we made a small ad agency, ranked No. 34, fast-tracked to No. 1 by adopting a mission/vision work style of superior service and breakthrough creatives.
To implement our service excellence, we empowered all our teams to establish their own quality goals and to monitor their progress during weekly quality circle meetings.
Team members evaluated themselves, resulting in a continuing performance improvement. Simultaneous with service excellent ratings, we paid our people the highest in the industry. So were our bonuses.
Our breakthrough creatives hit home runs in sales. We either resuscitated a dying brand or made existing ones runaway market leaders.
In the ’80s and ’90s, we hit home runs for Palmolive soap and shampoo, Jollibee burgers and fried chicken, Benadryl, Chiclets, Zesto Juices, Sarsi and Pop Cola, Magnolia Ice Cream, Duty-Free Philippines and Development Bank of The Philippines.
Recently, at Jollibee Pagsanjan, the store manager, a friendly girl, recognized me instantly, a near-sighted, old fogey. She got out of the counter, bright-eyed and smiling, “Tatay, maupo kayo. I’ll take care of you,” she said, showing me to a chair.
My order of spaghetti with one-piece Chickenjoy came promptly. I had the most wonderful meal.
Before I left, I praised the store manager for her excellent manners and delightful customer service. I told her that months ago, this was the same Jollibee store that disappointed me because they didn’t have what I wanted—Coke Zero (out of stock) and Splenda for my coffee (not available).
I told her that if I were the store manager (she was not the manager at that time), I would have asked one of the waiters to run to the grocery next door to buy a bottle of Coke Zero and two packets of artificial sweetener, out of her own pocket, just to please one miserable customer, me.
“That’s customer delight,” I said. Then she could bill Ato Tan Mantiong, big boss at Jollibee, for one bottle of Coke Zero and two packets of Splenda!
I know my good friend, Ato Tan, a fanatic for service excellence, he will not only reimburse her but also promote her to area manager.