I FIND it difficult to trust the "feel good" thing these days. I encountered two situations in the past couple of weeks which made me doubt whether the "feel good" element is real.
I had accompanied a close friend of mine, my namesake actually, shopping for a new car. Ahmad visited several outlets in and around the Klang Valley, trying out various models before narrowing his choice to two German marques.
At the first outlet, Ahmad and his business partner were treated very well by the staff, especially the sales executives. One salesman in particular never failed to offer them brewed coffee each time the two men dropped in. Ahmad test drove several cars and the salesman made sure that he was properly handled.
In the end, Ahmad didn't buy any of the cars he tested; but his partner did! The buyer was happy, the salesman was happy, the wives were happy! And of course I was happy too.
But this was shortlived! Ahmad's partner had problems with the new car two days after the purchase. He had to take it to the workshop several times. And each time he went there, he was met with more problems. The salesman was not around; the workshop people were rude; the mechanics brash and patronising.
As for Ahmad, he continued his search for a new car. He finally settled for the other German model at a different outlet. Everyone in the showroom, from the CEO down to the guard, had shown him the utmost courtesy and respect.
Here too, Ahmad was given mugs of brewed coffee, magazines and all his questions about the car were answered. Promptly and accurately. Until last weekend, that is.
As it turned out, the polite and friendly salesman had been found to be dishonest! He had shown disrespect to a prominent and important customer. The customer had complained to the senior management, and the salesman was shown the exit!
The same salesman was handling my namesake's purchase. As it turned out, the purchase has been delayed and the situation has become rather problematic. Ahmad also feared that the cheques he made out in the name of the salesman had probably been cashed and duly spent.
Such was the level of trust between Ahmad and the pleasant salesman that even the cheques were made out in the salesman's name.
My namesake and his friend were lulled into believing that the good manners, the courtesies, the brewed coffee, the magazines, the prompt attention and the smiles were all real.
Genuine stuff, they said. This is what first class service is all about, they had thought. They had really felt good! The facade shown by the salesmen made the two customers "feel good." They had no reason to doubt the salesmen. Until they were taken for a ride, that is.
On the national front, so many of our leaders talk about the "feel good" factor these days. There may be some basis of that in certain sectors. These two car buyers aside, I've met individuals who feel no good at all about their businesses.
If you tell the Proton car dealers that things are looking up; that the RM9 will propel the nation to bigger growth and prosperity, chances are they'll chase you and label you as a sadist.