Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Maurya Experience and Customer Service

Situation 1: At buffet B'fast, in an hotel; like other guests, I was promptly escorted to the table by a smiling and cheerful hostess . Once I was ensconced comfortably, a beeline of well-dressed, courteous waiters approach me one after the other to check if I would prefer a tea or coffee. Soon I realize, they just disappeared as fast they had arrived. I had either to go to the coffee station myself or politely remind a passerby waiter who then would promptly deliver my coffee with profuse apology. When this happened every day over a week, I kept wondering the possible reason for this occurrence.
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Situation 2: Guest 'assistance' was available at the touch of button on a room telephone. A woman responds promptly with ' Namaste ' listens to your request and immediately diverts my call to the concerned person or department. So far so good but what if the person on the side is not available or busy. I would get a dose of melodious music and be back to the same 'Namaste Lady’ or even get connected to another guest who too had dialed the ‘Namaste Lady’. This too happened far too frequently for me not to take notice of it.

The above two situations stood out against the otherwise impeccable, efficient, pleasant and hospitable staff of Maurya Sheraton, a fine luxurious hotel equipped with hi tech features. Here, water taps worked, hot water came without fuss, ac functioned without hissing noise, and bath towels were soft and clean, toiletries and Iron board in place. Some of these are present but do not function in correct manner in most other hotels.

Staying 10 days almost at a stretch gave me an opportunity to observe the functioning of the hotel from the eyes of Arthur Hailey’s ‘Hotel’. The above incidents made me realize the prevalence of similar instances in the service industry in India. Be at a restaurant, airline counter or at bank, we have lot many people to do a one job. Most of them are eager in fact over eager to do. They have a great attitude, they are smart but somehow they do not link their activity with customer satisfaction. I realized that situation 2 happened without a lady verifying if the person on the extension was available or not. While in first case, waiter would just pass the request to the person managing coffee station.

Does the lacunae lie in the eyes of an immediate supervisor or the overall system that tend to compartmentalize each function to a specific person? Be it front line office, sales, service or support - a customer is promptly addressed and delegated to the concerned department. Afterwards what happens to him is not in their jurisdiction. If someone takes initiative in doing so, senior for could reprimand that person over stepping.

In hotel, restaurant or airlines effect of customer service is tangible. In medical device industry, time is of an essence but effect may not be that tangible. It is not an easy task to create an organization with seamless interface among various functionalities to ensure prompt customer happiness. Would I succeed in creating one?

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