Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are you being served? - A debate about customer service in Sri Lanka

Eva Stone photo, Haputale, kade, shop, grocery, Sri Lanka
Customer service is commonly defined as the "service provided to customers before, during and after purchasing and using goods and services". It is often said, good customer service provides an experience that meets customer expectations resulting in return business. On the other hand, bad customer service is where the experience does not meet customer expectations potentially generating complaints. Bad customer service may result in lost sales if customers decide to take their business to a competitor.

I was having a debate with a few friends (both expats and locals) about customer service in Sri Lanka. It was a veritable feast of views, opinions, rants and raves lol. I'm sure none of us came out unscathed from this lively debate! There were some insightful, and sometimes over-the-top discussion points coming out of the afternoon. So much so, I thought it'd make for a good blog post.

Our debate arose in response to a story being recanted by Imogen, an expat friend (who moved to Sri Lanka with her Sri Lankan husband), about her recent retail experience purchasing wall and floor tiles for a bathroom renovation. In Imogen's words:

"Have you guys ever tried buying stuff from *****? Well, if you ever decide to... be prepared to wait for hours while they process your order and give you the paperwork. I swear I went to their store at around 11am, spent at the most 30-40 minutes looking at tiles and bathroom fittings, then waited two to three hours for my order to be placed and processed into their system. I am not effing kidding you. And every time I asked how much longer it was going to take, the only response I got was "Yes Madam, we are working on it". Thankfully it wasn't a work day, otherwise I would've been seriously screwed with getting back to work in time. And a further kick in the guts was the store wasn't even busy with many other customers!!!"

So this little diatribe kicked off our debate with many of us having our own stories of our customer experience in Sri Lanka.

For me, I don't think it's as simple as saying "it's just bad, full-stop-end-of-story". Rather, there are multiple factors that make up the state of play re: customer service or lack of it in Sri Lanka...

** Please note, the full blog post has been removed as parts of the blog content will be edited for inclusion in an upcoming publication by the author. More information will be made available on the Adventures in a Tuk-Tuk Blog in due course **

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