Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Service Without Smiles

The first time I went to USA was when my company sent me to a software application manufacturer in San Diego to learn how to service helpdesk in a call centre. What I have learnt from there impressed me as I compare it with the service we provide in Singapore.

In the United States, when the helpdesk support staff picks up a call from a customer, he takes his time to service the customer, providing excellent quality and above all, without rushing or with impatience. When a customer requires an answer to something the support staff is unable to provide immediately, the customer patiently waits 'on hold' for the staff to research and stays on line till the staff gives him a reply. There were no sign of any impatient gesture between the customer and the support staff, and even though the line may be toll free, it is still something we can learn about cultural differences and expectations.

Over here in Singapore, support staff are expected to rush and support as many customers as possible. Before the answers are provided, we either asked the customers to call back again or tell them we will call them back, taking extensively long time to 'research' before an attempt is made to return a call. Customers are expected to pay via 1-900 line and as the cost gets clocked at each tick, so is the growing impatience of the customer. Alternatively, we provide an answering service that is always busy or difficult to get a real person to talk to. Temperament flares up between customers and support staff frequently and eventually neither the customers nor the support staff accomplishes anything.

This is the kind of support service we get in Singapore, and this is the kind of expectations we get from customers. Tell me I am wrong or prove to me otherwise, and I will readily write another article to demonstrate the 'perfect' service a company provides because this is one area I will be glad to see improved.

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