Friday, October 7, 2011

Staying contemporary

I recently underwent a training on something related to Customers. I forget what it was - Customer Focus or Customer Corner or Diagonal or something. And I came out of it feeling quite lost. The first half an hour into the program I could sense that it was not getting anywhere - but at that point I asked my intuition to stay put and tried to see if I could get through to what the person was going after. After all, an open mind is essential for any learning to happen. So I tried.

The examples of exemplary customer service offered were the same. Nokia, Google, Apple, Fedex and Southwest airlines. Well, trainers, grow up.

Nokia was big 10 years back. Today it is being chased by Micromax at the lower end and Apple at all other ends. HTC and Samsung have redefined itself and me, a Nokia loyalist myself for many years now switched to Samsung. All around me - friends are opting out of Nokia and its market share is steadily dropping. Hardly an example of great customer service.

Apple, yes - but really at Apples core are its genius products - not really the traditional notion of "customer service" - which, really, if you asked any customer for their needs - nobody would be able to define the iPod or the iPhone or iPad in the way that we see it today. Google, slightly different, but not very - it is mostly about technical genius.

Fedex and Southwest - well, how many of us use Fedex on a daily basis and as for Southwest, they dont fly in India. And this is what gets my goat. If customer service is only about regurgitating what is found in textbooks - then it is not a training on customer service.

I could go on and on. But think about it - how does one teach customer service or customer focus or customer whatever to your participants? Surely there is a better way?

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