Monday, May 26, 2008

Please take a seat

Many of us would have experienced the abysmal customer service in the 80s. You stood at the fag end of an endless queue at the mercy of the teller/representative/whoever. Any customer service you got was a deliverance and you walked out with whatever you got since you did not expect anything anyway. If someone asked you to "take a seat", you fell at their feet thanking them for their help. (Note that all through this, many private businesses like jewellers, clothiers always offered their customers a seat and got good business.)

Cut to the 90s. "Take a seat" became the norm. Banks offered customers a seat. Railways put a seated queue system in place. It is rare to see a place that does not tell their customers, "take a seat, I will be with you in a minute."

Now, this "take a seat" essentially means, "an infinite amount of time ranging from 3 to 30 minutes. Or it means, "Now that you have a seat, please dont crib and let me take my own sweet time to come up with an answer to your question." In the last few weeks, I have seen this happen at automobile service centers, hospitals among things.

Heres the challenge. Get rid of the chairs in front of your reps and promise faster service - sure leave a few chairs so that those who want a seat can sit, but promise faster service. If your customers cannot sit, the reps have to get their job done faster. I really dont want to take a seat, I want to finish my job and get out faster...

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