Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Have we lost our edge?

LET me tell you a story about the Malaysian service industry. With the Visit Malaysia Year around the corner, and with business more competitive than ever, one would expect the operators of the industry to be more prepared than ever.

Alas, this is not so. At least not at the two outlets I visited recently.

One is a photo studio, quite well known and has been around for many years. It has branches all over the city and one can notice them quite clearly as one zooms past. I went there to ask for my photograph to be taken. I wanted them fast, real fast.

The counter girl said it takes 30 minutes for eight passport size prints, and cost RM15. I wasn't happy because it takes so long. I walked down the block of shops and spotted another photo studio. I asked for the same thing. I got what I wanted - 4 prints within five minutes at RM12.

After five minutes and after taking the prints, I went back to the first studio and told the counter girl that I got better service from the other shop. "Sorry lah, our policy on developing prints is 30 minutes. Our Boss won't allow us to print pictures for less than half an hour."

What kind of crap is that? I argued with her for a while. But it was getting nowhere and I could feel my BP going up. I left and made a mental note of not going back to that shop ever.

I then stopped at a car wash for just that purpose. I left the car and came back after about an hour. It happened again. The car was washed but some parts of the interior weren't properly vacuumed. I asked why and the attendant said: Sorry lah bang, lupa (Sorry Bro, I forgot).."

I murmured something about being unhappy with the service, The young man shot back: "Tak apa bang, kalau you tak suka tak payah bayar. Dan lain kali, tak payah datang sini lagi" Ayoyo, what an attitude! I took his advice and never sent my car to be washed there ever again.

At one international hotel in the city, the waiter have trouble smiling. He must have some personal problems, I thought. No doubt he brings the tea, take away your plates, bring a glass of water - but he left his smile at home.

My point is simple - some people will remain small, not improve and forever stay at the lower end of the food chain. These kind of people are everywhere. They don't care, have no passion for whatever they are doing, and is an embarassment to all of us.

There are exceptions of course. Plenty actually.

You must have come across similar situations, I'm sure. Do share them with me. As we go through everyday life, such unacceptable behaviour and service surface from time to time to provide us with a reality check on how much we're lagging behind other economies in the region.

Are we really losing the edge - that's all I'm asking!!


The Patersons said...

I'm beginning to think you're right. A couple of years ago, I went to a famous international chain restaurant in one of our big malls, with my sister.

After we had lunch, we were waiting for the bill and finishing our drinks, I was fiddling with the condiments on the table when I noticed behind the salt and pepper on the table, lay a dead cockroach.

You can imagine my disgust. Anyway, we'd already eaten so there was no point kicking up a huge fuss. All I did was ask the waiter to clean it away.

Well! Do you think she did it? She jsut went away, and we sat there for another 5 minutes wondering what was going on.

So I call another waiter. Same thing. Finally, this is like 10 minutes later, I am really irritated and I see a group of waiters including the ones I've spoken to. So I go up to them and I say I want to see your manager.

I can't even remember the waitress' retort suffice to say she was extremely rude. I said I am a paying customer and this is the service I get?

Her retort was "if you cannot afford to pay, don't pay lah".

So I said fine, and walked out.

I was fuming and have never gone back but part of me wishes I'd kicked up a bigger fuss, made noise so all the customers can hear etc But I was flabbergasted.

I know I'm supposed to take comfort in the fact that I'm more evolved and she will only ever be a half past six waitress paid pittance but it makes me so mad.

She wasn't even sorry.

And none of them were concerned about their customers health.

It's been more than 4 years and the memories still make me boil!

rustypen said...

dear bro

nice to be served promptly and courteously by someone who takes pride in his work, no matter how menial.

but how much does it contribute to "edge"? take for eg the airline industry. i just flew a european airline cuz its the cheapest to my destination.

the crew hardly ever smiled. forgot my meal requests twice, on the way out and returning. happened to quite a number of others on the flight too. when we asked to check, they admitted the requests were made but "something went wrong". a fellow passenger, in fact, had nothing to eat. (maybe shes vegetarian). no effort was made to offer her a bite of something harmless lk a wedge of fruit or a bun either.

yet, this airline is a giant in the aviation industry. tho i hate to fly with them, i probably wld again cuz the pricing is just too good to resist.

if u provide value for money, there'll always be takers. tho i prefer to fly mas, it is 2 expensive 4 me (and millions of other flyers too).

Alliedmartster said...

Totally can relate to it! Malaysia boleh lagi kah?

I have just finished counselling an employee of my unit. He earns RM35 a day as a daily wage earner.
The company's policy is, as a daily wage earner, the companys committment is as long as he works, he gets paid.
However, he has not shown up for work for 12 days. He does not call and inform us of his predicament, but he wants full time employment which provides for, basic pay, EPF, socso, paid leave, medical, and allowances. But, he wants to come in when he feels like it . .

The point is, where do these people come from? My policy is not to terminate another. . after having been retrenched before, and struggling for the past 4 years, I do not want others to go through where I have been, and yet this people surface on a daily basis . . .go figure.


highheelseliparjepun said...

Pnh ada pengalaman yg sama perihal senyum.Masa tu berurusan dgn Jabatan Imigresen yg terkenal dgn Motto Khidmat Dengan Senyuman.Tetapi sebenarnya Berat Dgn Senyuman.Sy merupakan pelanggan yg di'blacklisted' sbb akan membaca out loud slogan tersebut setiap kali ke sana.Sehinggakan ada pekerjanya yg tak nak layan sy..sebaliknya akan menyuruh staf lain berurusan dgn sy..Hmm...Dahlah tak senyum..

Fauziah Ismail said...

You're dressed well and you enter a boutique, you'll be treated like a Datin. You come in a T-shirt and faded jeans and sandals, the sales person thinks you don't have enough in your wallet to buy the cheapest thing on the shelf. Sad isn't?
Their smiles come with the ka-ching sound of the cash register, Datuk!

Mior Azhar said...

I must say that we are really losing it. Just go everywhere and it's a wonder if you do not feel irritated, at least.On the road, its the road "runners". At shops and malls, its the unsmiling staff, at least. And next year, its VMY!!! hahaa

babamelaka said...

Hi High,

Kisah orang kastam yang kematian senyuman....

My neighbour's encounter with the same jabatan is even more "memalukan". He married a philipina and obviously the poor young lady speaks almost no Bahasa Melayu. When she enquired something about the forms she was filling, the officer in charge just grumpily looked straight at her waving his hands rudely saying "tak boleh, tak boleh" because she spoke in English. She tried to communicate but the officer walked away abruptly and asked another staff to see to her, making it look as if foreigners are "stupid" for not being able to speak his language. Obviously, his collegue who had to cover for his duties got annoyed. The "tak boleh, tak boleh" guy must have taken the "tak boleh, tak boleh" way out once too often.

Maka, tamatlah riwayat segala senyuman....


Lets us all senyum-semyum selalu
here..... tak kira hidup itu pahit atau manis.

Kalau pahit, biar kita senyum kerana menghargai hikmahnya; kalau manis, senyumlah kerana bahagia...

Have a nice :-) day

steady eddie said...

I think the main emphasis should be on human capital development.We often come up with mega campaigns (last time around it was a total joke)the agencies (some of them)lacked credibility.

This time around we are touting for being the 'Essence of Asia'but what about courtesy and being service oriented.As mentioned some of the frontliners are a total catastrophy (the mother of all tsunamis)

I think a good starting grid would be at Tourism, the 'budi bahasa' campaign should first be tested on this guys, but alas the last 23 years or so being there, its family business all the way through, so how to move up the value chain.It is a matter of getting on the ground, if Musa has directed his officers to stop warming their seats and get on into the streets; our guys at Tourism must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the nation.Concentrate on customer service and delivery, less on the pomp and the pagentry(where the contracts are awarded to family members/of members of the fraternity)

If we want to be the best, we should at least trying being good at what we do.So lets take a leaf out of the success books in the region and put our best foot forward to ...welcome the world.

iprm said...

local cabbies have long lost it. its lost somewhere between edge of reason and the ever faulty meter.

Unknown said...

Indeed we have lost our edge. My telephone line has been down for 1 week. Despite numerous fault reports lodged at the Telekom Malaysia call centre no action has been taken. I am just about to give up hope on the 'tidak apa' attitude demonstrated by this 'leading integrated telecommunications company' supposedly delivering '..cutting edge commmunications, information and entertainment services'.
Would appreciate any advice from anyone out there on how to resolve this issue with Telekoms Malaysia.