March 10, 2009

The customer is no longer right

Apparently, here in the Philippines, that is the norm. I mean how many times have you felt frustrated by how stores, restaurants or companies ride roughshod over customer complaints these days? (Maybe it's partly our fault. Many Filipinos know very little about their rights as consumers and think it is just a waste of time, and a nuisance to file complaints and follow them up.)

(Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala is now Globe's chief complaint dispatcher. Tsk, tsk.)

We're happy for Gerry Kaimo that he got his iPhone/Globe billing problem solved (see previous blog post). But he had to email Globe chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Jaza) just to get a satisfactory response because none of the telco's customer service people nor their bosses were willing to make the right decision about his problem! Doesn't Jaza have better things to do than attend to customer complaints? Why can't Globe just revamp its customer relations department to make the staff more people-oriented?

This inability to empathize with clients and customers' woes appears to be a growing trend among companies here. In a bid to make humongous profits, companies will sacrifice customer service. Many of them have grown insensitive to their customers' needs and issues. Most of the time, we are directed to a call center where agents will give you robotic answers as per the script given to them by the company they answer to.

If you remember, last month, my friend, businesswoman Ruby Gan, complained of the lousy treatment she received from Sony Ericsson after she bought a used/second-hand Xperia from one of its major dealers, Memo Xpress. By the time SE officials realized they could probably explain their case better to Ruby by just meeting w/ her personally, it took three weeks of back and forth unproductive emails, and my shoutout to another SE publicist. (Apparently SE's main PR gal Jingjing Romero couldn't even be bothered to use her free SE phone to call Ruby and get to the bottom of the issue. Last I heard, Ruby ditched the Xperia and is tossing it back to the company as soon as she gets her money back.)

(Beware of roaches!)

Another case of poor customer relations is Zest Airways. Remember Marge Polintan and her roach problem in Zest Air? She wrote emails to the airline customer service dept., its management, resort owners in Boracay who have tieups w/ the airline, and heads of government agencies. When a top dog in the airline finally decided to meet her and her group of disgruntled customers, three months had already passed! (This is funny considering I forwarded Marge's emailed complaint to one of the airline's VPs as soon as I read it. Tsk, tsk.)

According to Marge in her email to me last Feb. 28, the issue has been settled to her satisfaction. I'm glad. Her email below:

Dear Ms. Arnaldo:

If you recall, our experience with Zest Air was posted in your blog sometime ago. There was a relentless barrage of emails and letters I sent to them, the Boracay Chamber of Commerce and other agencies concerned.

Finally after three months, Ms. Jo Trinidad Customer Care of Zest Air finally contacted me and had lunch together with some of my co-passengers. She could not believe the stories we told her. Apparently, they have only one person handling all these complaints and the poor girl is simply overwhelmed.

I also had the chance to meet their CEO, Mr Salvador Ramirez. Zest Air is inviting the 15 passengers concerned to fly Zest Air again to any of their local destination and promised first class service. (Me: The airline CEO is actually Amb. Fred Yao of Zest-O. Ramirez is SVP for Commercial Affairs, and former president/CEO of TAIR Airways w/c was supposed to start flying from Clark to the Middle East in 2007. I don't think TAIR every lifted off.)

Thank you for all your help.


One girl just handling customer complaints? That's what I call efficient!

I wish companies invest more in their customer service departments. These departments are the front-liners of their business and are also responsible for maintaining the company's image in public. No matter how much money a company pours into PR and advertising, its image will still suffer when clients are dissatisfied with how they are treated. Lousy customer service=lousy company.

Look, all that customers really need is an understanding person in the company, who can give us simple, direct, and reasonable answers to our plaints, as soon as possible. We just need a helping hand, that's all.


shiva m. said...

hi. i stumbled upon your site and chanced upon your very striking post. i myself have my own setbacks with globe and must say am very disappointed with how they are dealing with my complaints. i've heard the term, "system generated" much too often that it gets pretty annoying already.

i wonder if globe or any of the service-oriented industries realize that their clients pay a premium for human interaction and not a system generated response merely articulated by their reps. for globe, especially -- i think it's high time they reconsider that their subscribers will not want to deal with robots who say, "we apologize for the inconvenience, unfortunately, la la la."

i will write my own complaint to them and hope it will reach proper authorities. i'm really glad to have read this; affirms my thoughts exactly!

Stella Arnaldo said...

You're welcome Shiva. I hope Globe treats you better after you file your complaint.

Thanks for dropping in.