26 Jan 2013

Customer service is alive…

Took me over a year to finally start posting, must be the “new year resolution” effect. Anyway, now that I have started…


Most consumers in India, myself included, believe customer service simply doesn’t exist in the country. Rarely do we experience it, probably because most people who get a chance to serve a customer don’t know what it means and most consumers have accepted its absence as something you live with in India. There are, of course, a few exceptions and I met one today.


I am on my way for a short international business trip. As per the policy of my employer, they issue the necessary foreign exchange in advance to take care of expenses. For the sake of convenience, I pick it up before departure at the airport. Well… today I forgot. Maybe because I didn’t sleep well last night or maybe because I am taking a flight from Bangalore instead of my home base of Chennai. In any case, I forgot and realized it only after I cleared security. Thanks to increasingly tight (and sometimes downright illogical) security rules, I was told by the inspector there that there was no way I could go back, collect the money and return to the departure area. I thought it made no sense as I would have been checked by the security guys again anyway. But then I was trying to explain logic to a government employee in uniform. Anyway, the only way out was to have an airline staffer escort me through security and bring me back.


I called my contact in Thomas Cook asking him if he could ask his local guy to come through security and hand over the money to me (easier for him as somebody who works at the airport). But because it’s a holiday, they only had one person manning the store.


Long story short, I finally found an airline staffer who patiently listened to my story and immediately agreed to help me. Less than 10 minutes later, I was back at the gate. He was helpful throughout in negotiating with the security guys, the immigration check personnel and whoever else needed an explanation. He even offered to carry my bag, which it made it sort of awkward. And then he waited on the other side of security until I cleared it to ensure I don’t encounter any last mile hiccups. I offered to treat him to a coffee at the CafĂ© Coffee Day, but he very graciously refused.


The intention of starting this blog was to give a voice to the cynic who lives within me. I am happy that I encountered something that not only tempered that cynicism a bit (probably temporarily :-)) but gave me a positive story to kick off posting.


Dear Rajeshwar, thanks again!