Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do we attract bad customer service(s) to ourselves?


I have this friend; going out with her when we were in University was always a nightmare because she virtually complained about everything. When we went to Mc Donalds, she would return her burger plus fries complaining that the bun didn’t taste fresh and the fries were not hot enough.  When we went for tea, she would complain that she only asked for one sugar but could taste two. She was a serial complainer but it favoured her most times because every instance she complained, she always got exactly what she wanted or her money back.  Though my friend’s complaints were always a bit excessive and compulsive but thinking about it now, she just didn’t want to accept any value less than her money was worth (apart from her being a troublemaker).  
I noticed that unconsciously we accept and attract bad attitude and customer service to ourselves. The standards we set are those which influence how we are being treated by others. If we indirectly send out signals that we tolerate rubbish then rubbish will be dished out to us abundantly.
Something I also noticed amongst most of us Nigerians  is this; our minds are inclined and immune to bad attitude and bad customer service. It has become part of our lives to accept it (by “it” I mean bad customer service), manage it, live with it and then keep complaining forever, which is totally wrong. We make excuses that we do not have other choices so we embrace and “manage” whatever is being shoved at us with our lips sealed. In this way we indirectly send out signals saying “its OK, you can treat me as you like”. Voluntarily we settle for less and embrace the things that we clearly do not deserve or even want .We are not waste-bins; we shouldn’t allow people to dumb things that don’t match our standards on us.
These services we receive, we pay for, thus we deserve to be given quality and good attitude in value for our money.  I have heard a couple of people who sell things say ” why are they making so much force when they paid so little for the service” my friend, if the money we are paying for that service isn’t good enough for you, increase your price or close down your store.
I believe that each individual should stand up for his /her right, if you go somewhere and you are treated unfairly, like my friend hairmadness for instance who walked out on those silly hair stylists when they were wasting her time and didn’t have the decency to apologise for delaying her hair appointment. if you cannot walk out because you cannot get an alternative elsewhere, then you should speak up. ask for the manager (I know sometimes those managers even have worse attitudes) if the manager acts like a fish and doesn’t not see sense in what you are complaining about, then ask to see a higher authority, if they have none, tell who ever is in charge and if they don’t do anything about it, at least you have registered your complaint and as long as everyone keeps doing that there would be progress. The bottom line is that each of us must take action in order to be heard. Imagine if you complained, and I complained, and then my sister, her husband and a whole lot of us complained (about the same service) somehow these service provider would do something about the situation. Even if it’s not a huge or immediate change, it would be a stepping stone for them and since it’s our money, let’s teach them how to treat us. 
If you don’t like the way you are being treated, you gotta do something about it. Speak out! Or you know what? Come and talk about it here, I’ll speak out on your behalf.
Enough is enough!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Filling Station Saga


On Saturday my cousin stopped by to help install a new anti-virus software on my laptop. As we got discussing he asked if I still wrote on my blog, to which I answered “yes”. His facial expression changed from the jolly one to a more serious one (more like an irritated facial expression) as he started narrating his experience at a filling station he stopped by during the week to buy some petrol. Here is his story...

On this particular occasion (this had happened to him before) when he stopped at the filling station to buy some petrol, he told the fuel attendant how much petrol he wanted and looked away for a few seconds to bring out some money from his pocket, unconsciously  he looked at the meter right before the sale began.(The meter at that point read N500 which meant that the previous buyer, bought N500 worth of petrol) he saw the attendant reset the meter (which usually means that the meter would start reading from N0).

By the time he looked back, what he saw amazed him. The meter had run so fast,it already read N500. This felt like trick to my cousin because he only looked away for about 3 seconds. He ordered the attendant to stop and asked why the meter already read N500 when he only started running it about 3secoonds ago. The attendant who already knew that he had been busted cheating, immediately started to apologise and beg(apparently immediately my cousin looked away to get some money, the attendant quickly reset the meter to the previous sale and was just about to continue selling from that amount when he got caught. This will mean that for instance if my cousin wanted to buy N2000 worth of petrol, the attendant would have sold him N1500 and kept the remaining N500 in his pocket, the meter would have showed N2000 as the amount purchased and my dear cousin would have left thinking he had N2000 worth of petrol in his tank).

He was not ready to listen to the attendants plea so he jumped into his car, drove straight to their manager’s office and reported the incident to him .
The manager who understood the gravity of what his staff had done, he sincerly apologised, sent for the attendant, confirmed what had happened and asked him to take off his uniform which of course meant he was sacked.

My cousin went back to the same filling station several times after but with his eyes on the meter from the start to the end of his purchase. After this incident, he began to understand why his fuel never lasted the length of time it usually did. Unfortunately, he began to think there was something wrong with the fuel tank in his car not knowing that some filling station attendants were having drinks on him.

Apparently this sort of fraudulent act happens mostly at filling stations that are still in use of the old type of meter and not the new computerised one.

Business owners must emphasise (to their employees) the danger behind cheating or stealing from customers. In plain English, stealing, cheating or ripping off your customers (whether this offense is committed by an employer or employee) can leave your business stuck with a horrible stigma which will eventually bring about the downfall of that business. 

Why not do this: deliver the best service....Over Deliver ( a discussion for another post)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Marketing amidst chaos



On this particular evening on my way home from work, I contemplated for several minutes whether to stop at a shop close to home to buy some toiletries or not, after thinking and thinking about it I decided to stop by at the shop.

I went in; bought all the things I needed and hurriedly went into the car with the mind of going home to take a nice afternoon nap. I climbed into the car, dropped my shopping by my side and began to look at the messages on my phone as the driver reversed while taking directions from the security guard. The car suddenly stopped and my mind immediately told me that we had hit a stationery car. I asked the driver what had happened but he tried to play dumb so I got out of the car to quickly see the damage we had caused. And behold we had broken the rear light of a company car. In a relaxed manner I told the driver to park the car and walked up to the car we had damaged. Some ladies got down and started lamenting; calmly I apologised and asked what I could do to help the situation. They said that I had to follow them to their company which was a mortgage bank down the road. I accepted to drive behind them while they insisted that one of their colleagues rode in my car with me. I didn’t have a problem with that. A few minutes into our journey I turned to this nicely dressed lady seated in my car and asked “Aren’t you scared that I might kidnap you and take you to some strange place?” she answered in a defensive tone “No¸ I have no reason to be scared” I kept quiet for a few minutes and said to her again
“I can actually kidnap you and drive you to a strange place, you don’t know who my driver and I are
she tried to be defensive again but I guessed she was a little nervous, so I decided to stop my mischief and assured her that I had no intentions of kidnapping her and at that point we got talking until we got to their Bank.

When we arrived at the Bank, the security men greeted me very well, one of the other ladies who I would name Anne was already addressing me as “Ma” as she led me into their bank and offered me a sit (their manager who, they had wanted me to talk to was in a meeting). So I sat down (by this time, I had called my brothers and they were on their way to the bank to rescue me) and kept myself occupied with my phone. Every single staff that passed by me greeted me very warmly (I kind of felt very relaxed and was quite impressed). Anne came to sit next to me and started to explain how she felt bad that I was in this situation and if it were her car she would probably let me go. She was fascinated by my calmness. A little while later their Admin Officer (she didn’t appear that nice) walked up to me, acting tough she asked what I would like to do regarding the little accident, since I had never been in this situation before I told her that they had to tell me what they wanted. Anyway she sent somebody to get a quote from Honda while I sat and waited, by the time my brother arrived, Anne had introduced me to half the staff at the bank and had also offered me a book to read and tea or coffee. Everyone at the bank was very nice and supportive, I almost forgot what brought me there..

My brothers got to the bank and tried to resolve the matter. They spoke to the admin lady who had somehow softened up and spoke nicely to them. Anyway we came to an agreement to end this story. Their manger finally stepped into the matter, such a fantastic woman, her smile alone could melt your heart and make you bring all your money into their bank. She told us not to pay for the damages¸I gave her a big hug and promised that we would bring them business.

Meanwhile, while I was waiting for my brothers to arrive, Anne and her colleagues were already marketing their services to me which I didn’t feel weird about because already they were very nice to me, they exchanged phone numbers with me and I promised to win them one customer at least, which would be me (their attitude was very right and I was very impressed considering all the rude stories I had heard in the past about girls that worked in the bank).

Every staff that I came across on that day whether on the corridor or while I was at the lobby greeted me well and made me feel very comfortable,
you would think I was a customer and not a culprit.
For the few hours that I was seated at the bank, I knew that the employees there had their game on, knew very well the secrets of delivering good customer service and definitely knew how to win new customers. Even in the midst of chaos, we still got wooed by their good customer service and would definitely do business with them now and in the future.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The un-enthusiastic ways of some hair stylists.... (Day Spa vs Elizabeth Michael)



At 11:21am a red light flashed on my blackberry, it was a distress message from a friend who had been scarred and disappointed by hair stylists at a salon, our conversation went thus:
Participants:
-------------
ME, Hair madness

Messages:
---------
Hair madness: So my customer service woes!!!!!!!!
Hair madness: Only u will understand
ME: Lol
ME: Spill spill spill
Hair madness: I went to Day spa to make an appointment to braid my hair. They didn't even seem enthusiastic when I walked in. No smile nothing. She now said I have to make sure I come early oo coz they won't wait.. and I was like trust meeee I'm always early u need to make sure u’re early.. They just had this air about them
Hair madness: So I get there today and two women walked past me no good morning ,nothing. They said the braiders weren't there I should go sit and wait. I walked upstairs alone no one asked or apologised for them being late. One braider comes and asksss me again if I wanna braid. And I was like "what did the manager just tell u" she just strolled off
ME: Ahhhhh
ME: Strolled off???
Hair madness: They didn't put on the air condition, nothing. At that point I went to look for the idiot that said I shouldn't be late and I gave her a piece of my mind and walked into my car. The braider now came and said ehh the other braider is changing her clothes... I said she's lying.. She now said yes she was lying and that the braider was not around yet
Hair madness: I left!
ME: Hisssssssss
ME: Imagine!!!ME: Total time wasters
Hair madness: I Came to Elizabeth Michael...said I wanted to braid my hair .They said “ok pls sit”, I asked for the braiders, they said she's on her way, then I asked how long would I have to wait, they said maybe an hour so I said no I can't wait o.. The manager hurries along to call the braiders and comes back to say “sorry madam she's actually walking in now, we even have 3 braiders and they will start immediately” . They asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I explained how I wanted my hair done. They kept smiling and said “ok aunt no problem”
Hair madness: Two of the braiders had their phones ring and each time they had to pick up they said " sorry aunty, pls give me a minute"
ME: Awwwwww
Hair madness: As innnn I have the mind of looking for the owners of day spa to tell them about their staff
ME: Where is Elizabeth Michael?
Hair madness: On akin adesola
Hair madness: Some of d stylists remember me from another salon and they came to say hello.
Hair madness: Just pleasant!!!
ME: U know all these workers don't send, they don't care.. All they care about is their salaries...It’s not their fault now they get paid anyway if only the owners know how many customers their stupid workers turn away in one day...
ME: isn’t it money u would have paid them when they finish braiding your hair? that money can pay their electricity bill
ME: But they don't care, its not their personal business
ME: Awon ode ( dumb people)
Hair madness: Imagine
Hair madness: I had to ask her
Hair madness: Is it free???
Hair madness: Idiotas
Hair madness: Another woman just came to ask if I was ok
ME: Pls give me permission to put our chat on my blog
ME: I wish I could help u send the owner a message honestly
Hair madness: Lollllllllllllll
Hair madness: No worries
ME: So how many people are doing your hair now?
Hair madness: 3 people o
Hair madness: They r not even talkinggg to each other
Hair madness: Just doing their work
Hair madness: I'm super impressed
ME: How much will it cost
Hair madness: N6000 o
Hair madness: Meanwhile "upscale" dayspa charges N7500
Hair madness: And they won't put the generator on. Awon were (Those Mad people)
ME: Awon ode mi awon yen o (those were some dumb people)
Hair madness: Lolllll
ME: Wow with that their service at Elizabeth Michael..I would have thought they would b very expensive
Hair madness: No they are normally around the same price everywhere. N6000.. Its only day spa I've heard N7500
ME: Upon all their N7500 they can't deliver proper service
Hair madness: Lollll
Hair madness: Imagine
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
After my chat with "hair madness" my thoughts were:

It is not advisable for Business owners to leave their business completely to random people who call themselves managers but cannot even manage their own character and attitude. The other day while I was with my brother in law at a complex, I was following him to the optician, as we were walking towards the staircase I heard a man shout for a lady who was walking towards the same stairs as we were... he shouted” Ann, can you hurry up, we have a lot of customers waiting” and she shouted back in return “please leave me alone, I can’t kill myself” imagine that? At the end of the month she would curse her employee if her salary was a few days late, but then she conveniently sends away customers that would generate money to pay her salary.
How easily companies lose their customer to competitors who are not even competing but have the sense to train their customers to deliver excellent customer service.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is this the modern way of selling?



After forcing myself into my sister and her husband’s dinner plans on Sunday, they considered my plea and took me to dinner. As we were enjoying our meal, two ladies walked in, sat at the table next to us and started conversing loudly. They kept calling for the waiter. I noticed that my sister was eavesdropping, for a second I told her to stop but then I realised that I also started eavesdropping (one of the ladies was talking about the toothpaste that she uses which can only be bought in Spain). A few minutes later I heard her say “excuse me” loudly again, thinking that she was calling for the waiter for the hundredth time, I didn’t bother to look in her direction, but when the” excuse me” started sounding like it was coming towards me, I turned to look at her and I realised that she was calling for me. Holding up a little package from where she sat, she said “hi I just wanted to say that I sell MAC powder, I get them from America and I am selling them at a discounted price, i am having a kind of sale, trying to sell them all off” I smiled politely, thanked her and said that I wasn’t interested. (Since my sister and I were arguing about the toothpaste being from Spain or not, I decided to ask the lady) I told her that I was eavesdropping earlier and heard about her wonder toothpaste, so she started the story about her sensitive teeth and how she found some toothpaste that can only be bought in Spain, since I live in Lagos and have no plans of travelling to Spain or changing my toothpaste, I soon lost interest (if at this point she brought out a tube of toothpaste and advertised that she sold it, I probably wouldn’t have minded, though it would be very unlikely that I would buy it). She must have noticed my disinterest as she shouted across the table again “I sell accessories too” holding out the one she was wearing around her neck.” They are in my car outside, I can show you” she continued. I smiled again and politely told her that I wasn’t interested. She then asked for my complimentary card, which I didn’t have with me, she went on to ask for my number so I gave it to her (at least that was for free and I definitely know how to deal with phone calls from strangers) she gave me hers and told me once again that she sold so many other things.
This was a strange experience for me. Why would I want to buy cosmetics from a total stranger at a restaurant? Did this mean that she came in with the intentions of selling her cosmetics in there? (She carried them in a separate plastic bag when she came in). A couple of times I have seen people hand out complimentary cards politely (in a stylish manner) in enclosed places but this was the first time that I would experience someone waving a product from a distance to me at a restaurant in the name of marketing. I think it might actually have been a different case if I said to her that I liked the powder she was wearing and she then answered back saying that she actually had some for sale. That wouldn’t be as bad as a co customer trying to sell you powder, calling for your attention while interrupting the consumption of your favourite apple crumble and custard. Ridiculous I’d say!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You Can Never Get A Limo To Move Like a Sports Car (Does education make a difference?)



On this beautiful Monday, after a fabulous birthday weekend, I decided it was time to respond to my friends messages since my BB had been on crack the whole weekend. So I said hey to Kay, thanked him for my birthday wishes then i noticed his profile picture. it looked like a clip from a newspaper but with his picture. i got excited and asked him about it. He confirmed that he was in the weekend paper for an article he wrote on Ecommerce. i got even more excited and accused him of living my dream which led us to the conversation about customer service in Nigeria.. our conversation went thus:
Participants:
-------------
Me, Agent Zero

Messages:
---------
Me: Will u at least read my blog?
Agent Zero: I will read ur blog
Agent Zero: It’s the Nigerian jungle really, a writer like urself that wants to write about customer service has to be careful in delivering a msg that will be of relevance and direct experience with the people in this economy, meanwhile, as we all know, the kind of customer service u wish for, and would like them to adopt, is of the western world. So here lies the problem. How do u make people in this country side with what u are saying, when they don't even believe in it.
Agent Zero: If u have interesting write-ups, it will get published, don't worry about that.
Me: Hmm that's a point, advice me, how will I make them side what I'm saying
Agent Zero: Its gradual
Agent Zero: U probably have to go to the origin, which is culture and the concept of change
Agent Zero: The people at tantalizers that are giving bad customer service, ask them how much customer service training have they had since they started working there
Agent Zero: Or did they just hire them, teach them about the various foods, their prices and how to work the register....
Me: I'm sure they probably do not have any training.. my dream.. I would love to train bottom line employees
Agent Zero: That's what my sunday article is on, training and my solutions that save money. People get trained in top organizations, it cost money, but they have money, in a smaller organization like chicken republic, that has a three man rotation for an entire day, it cost too much to train those guys the correct way
Me: Those re the sort of people I'm interested in.. People in that industry...fast food, supermarkets etc
Me: But do u think there is a cheaper way I can get them trained
Agent Zero: No real competition btw tantalizers and TFC, so why would any of the organizations stress or push for competitive advantages, I.e, make our servers better so we can sell more.......
Agent Zero: Its reverse engineering
Me: Hmmm
Me: I like this conversation its making my brain work
Agent Zero: Hire graduates and pay them a lot, make customer service ur number one objective........then see what ur restaurant lobby will be during lunch hours and after work, the money starts to come back gradually
Agent Zero: But who is ready to do that in Nigeria, NOBODY
Agent Zero: If u go into McDonalds, the manager is someone doing his masters and just took the McDonalds job part time or cos of work schedule flexibility
Me: True
Agent Zero: So he knows how to speak to people
Me: Hmm I have so much to think about
Agent Zero: All the little girls taking ur orders, are girls in college, and doing part time gigs. There are some traces of education. No one in McDonalds holds that job as a career, except for the district managers that have two to three stores under them
Me: You re very right
Agent Zero: So what do we do about customer service in Nigeria. First thing, fire all the those working in the tantalizers now, cos u can never get a limo to move like a sports car
Me: Lol
Me: A limo can never move like a sports car ...i love that
Agent Zero: Go to tera culture, there is a guy that serves u there, the last time I was there, I had to ask him if he owned tera culture or maybe his family did, and he said no.
Agent Zero: He asked why I asked that because he is a regular worker, I said he served me and catered to me like the perception of service mattered to him more than just serving. He smiled and said” I am a graduate of university of ife”. He took the job because of economic circumstance.
Agent Zero: I literally thought he owned the joint
.........................................................................................................................................................

So Kay gave me his full permission to put up our conversation which i was excited about.
Yesterday i went to Brown’s, a cafe, with my friend. The girl who attended to us, served us so well, my friends and i couldn’t help but ask how long she had been working at the cafe. She told us that she had been working in the cafe since it opened 6months ago. She also happens to be a part time chemistry student at the Lagos state University (LASU). Immediately, I remembered my conversation with Kay and sent him a message saying that i confirmed his theory about graduates delivering better services... Don’t get me wrong some graduates can be aggressive at times, being a graduate doesn’t guarantee that an employee will deliver exceptional services but i honestly feel that it would reduce the number of bad customer service that we receive. A level of good education coupled with training will make a huge difference in our organisations and the society at large.
To be continued.....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A tribute to Mr Saka – The Carpenter


Mr Saka was a carpenter i met a few years ago who became my friend. He was not a fancy furniture maker, no no no, he was a real carpenter, the type that you will see sawing wood in front of his workshop with his little white cap, shouting in Yoruba at his 14 year old apprentice to hurry up and buy some nails.

Though he didn’t go to university or have any professional training, Mr Saka’s customer service was more exceptional than that of some people who graduated from the university. He was a cool and calm man who would go through any length to ensure that his customers were satisfied with whatever furniture he made or mends for them.

Through referrals, Mr Saka serviced a lot of people he would never have dreamt to meet. His ever humble and respectful character announced and advertised him wherever he went.

Ask him to come to your house just to seek his opinion on a job, he would run down and thank you when leaving. Mr Saka made me free furniture one time when i accused him of not giving me a Christmas present as his faithful customer. He was so flexible with his job that he could come to your house at anytime just to mend a broken wardrobe; he didn’t mind that you didn’t buy it from him; he would mend it like it was his own and advise you on how to look after it.

One day, when we needed Mr Saka to do a job for us at work, we were unable to reach him(which was very unlike him) so we sent somebody to look for him at home. The messenger came back with the news that Mr Saka was ill. The following week we heard he died. “Impossible” i shouted, “he probably went to his village for a little while” i said knowing that i was sounding silly. Well, Mr Saka truly died because his family confirmed and i haven’t seen him ever since. I had some work pending for him, and every time I remember him, i think about the exceptional services that he rendered.

Today at work, we sit and stare at these temporary dividers that Mr Saka always fixed and removed for us for free whenever we needed to use that particular room( the room is a multi-purpose room, we have wooden dividers demarcating it from others, but when we need a big space we remove the dividers, he always always always does this for us ) and have now realised that we need another carpenter. we sincerely miss him

Mr Saka’s fantastic services will never be forgotten, he was born with good customer service skills.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Has Starcomms’s star gone?



As i sat in my room on this particular night, i was almost cursing my internet service provider namely Starcomms. i sat in front of my laptop and began to wonder why i was still on this Starcomms issue. I honestly should have dumped them a long time ago.
I sat there wishing i had their CEO’s number so i could give him a piece of my mind and also ask him how things got this bad, since their sales reps don’t do a good job of representing them or delivering my distress messages.

Paying N15,950 as monthly subscription fee excluding the transport fare of the man who goes to the bank to pay this fee is not a joke. I felt cheated and frustrated.
I need to give an explanation of what went wrong that night...

I got home from work; connected to my internet to send an urgent email to my friend in America who was sitting in front of her computer waiting to receive this vital document from me. The only headache i had apart from being tired already was that my internet would not allow my message send. My friend kept pinging my blackberry refusing to understand why it should take so long to send one email(which of course added to my headache and frustration). Though the internet claimed it was connected the email refused to send. I couldn’t use my blackberry to send the email because the document i needed to attach to the email was on my laptop. I tried sending this email for a couple of hours like 2, 3, 4hours, dozing off and waking up until finally at midnight the message sent, “Hallelujah” i shouted. By that time i didn’t know what i felt, but i knew i was angry at myself (as usual...this happens every time) for being such a loyal customer to Starcomms.

Though renewing my monthly subscription didn’t make that much sense because the internet hardly worked but i kept having faith that the service will get better thereby throwing money away , unfortunately it only got worse.

In this new age where many internet providers have sprung up, i wonder what a company like Starcomms that has been in the telecommunications industry (in fact one of the very first internet service providers) for so long is doing messing about in the same industry they pioneered.

Try calling their customer service line; they have never for once had a solution to any single one of my problems. But as soon as they notice that you haven’t paid your monthly subscription fee, they call your phone asking politely why you haven’t. They go ahead to encourage you to pay because they have rectified all the problems your internet might have (Big lie!!!) which is just a gimmick to make you pay for another month of frustrating internet service..

Not long after this incident, as you would imagine, i ditched Starcomms for a more sensible internet service provider that provides me with a better, faster and even cheaper service, GLO 3G internet.

Sometimes you lose by being too loyal a customer..

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strands ...Happy to let my money go


I am very loyal and faithful when it comes to choosing a hairdresser. I am also used to having a special bond with whoever does my hair; this is why I try to stick to getting my hair done in one place.
My loyalty led me to tolerating and accepting a lot of rubbish from my salon in the name of loyalty... let me just sugar coat it and simply say nowadays their service can be appalling and by appalling i mean terribly bad...

I had planned to get my hair done on this particular Monday but unfortunately i was informed that my salon would be closed for the day. Immediately, i felt distressed, i couldn’t imagine where else i could get my hair done. I explained my trouble to my friend and she immediately recommended her salon, still i was reluctant. My friend called her hairdresser when she was unable to reach him she sent him a bb message and he responded almost instantly that he was at church. He promised to call her back as soon as he was done which he did. My friend told him about me, immediately he booked me in for an appointment for the following day and even gave me a discount.

The following day when i got to Strands (the salon my friend recommended), i was so warmly welcomed that i actually felt i was mistaken for a celebrity. I introduced myself and I was immediately given a seat, towel around my neck and nicely the service commenced. I kept wowing and whoaing and couldn’t stop sending my friend messages telling her that i felt i was in paradise. The hairstylist offered me everything (from snacks to drinks) and refused to let me rest until i accepted to have some lunch. I felt so comfortable that for the first time i wasn’t in a rush to go home. Everything started with please and of course a smile.

Washing my hair felt so good i almost fell asleep with my head in the sink, the girl who took over was good too she kept on assuring me that my hair was fantastic but that didn’t stop her from confirming that I was okay with what she was doing.

By the time i was done with my hair, i had a huge smile on my face. I left there feeling like a princess. To make me even feel more special, they explained to me:that they were normally closed on Mondays but they opened the salon just for me. OH MY GOD catch me... I almost fainted (i confirmed this from a number of people and they agreed that it was true). I was sooo happy with the service that i didn’t act surprised when i realised my bill was higher than that of my salon.. The quality of service i received was worth every penny of what i paid.. i was happy to let my money go..

Friday, March 26, 2010

A tale Of Three Visits to Tantalizers

Tantalizers is a fast food restaurant in Nigeria, though it has been in existence for over 10 years, it has never appealed to me as a place to get some food or snacks, drinks? Maybe but not food or snacks.

On this particular Tuesday after praying so hard at church, my cousin, her friend and i decided to pop into tantalizers since it was just below where we had the church program. The aroma of the food had been disturbing and interrupting my thoughts throughout our prayer meeting and even though i wasn’t a big fan of tantalizers i was excited when my cousin suggested we got a drink from there on our way out.

We walked into the restaurant and to my greatest surprise it looked very appealing and clean , the food displayed was indeed tantalizing. My cousin immediately told me about their sausage rolls which she said tasted good and i thought “yup i did try it”.
Everything was going well until we decided that we were too hungry to wait and would like to start eating our food, at least some out of it while the rest got scanned or quickly scan the ones we were ready to eat while we waited for the rest. You need to have been there to see how this lady looked at us as if we were not human beings, she almost snatched the food from us and beat us up. While she was acting like a dog, her colleague was acting like a wilder animal to another customer almost biting her face off. At this point all i wanted to do was to leave and i said to myself “I should have known better”.
I left the restaurant trying to figure out what was behind the sales attendants’ attitude and why they frowned their faces at us as if we were disturbing their quite time. My experience negatively affected the taste of the freshly baked sausage roll i bought. I decided I’d like to visit tantalizers again, well..not because their service was great but because i wanted to observe the attitude of those sales attendants once more. I tried to convince myself that on this particular day i visited, the attendants got dumped by their boyfriends.

My second visit
So i returned to tantalizers the following week, let’s say the girls got hitched last weekend. The particular girl that attended to us was so friendly it was hard to believe that this was the same place we visited last week. the sales attendant smiled at us and didn’t mind us drinking our Pepsi before she scanned them. She was very excited and this made me want to go back another day. On this day the hot sausage rolls tasted so delicious i had to buy an extra one for the road.

My third visit
On my third visit... oh how I loved their service, the lady who attended to us greeted us politely, took our order with respect and didn’t complain or frown at our indecisiveness instead she smiled and assured us that we weren’t bothering her when we tried to apologise. Can I also add that i actually loved their roasted chicken i have never dreamt of buying food for my personal consumption from Tantalizer but now i honestly wouldn’t mind getting their roasted chicken to complement my lunch every other day..

First impressions count a lot ; there might never be another opportunity to impress your customers other than the first time. What if i didn’t make the second and third trip back there? i would have had only bad stories to tell about the restaurant. Consistency is very important when delivering quality services even if it is for the mere fact that you are not certain your first time customers will return the second time, at least leave them with good memories the first time they visit. You never can tell who they will share their customer service experiences with..

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Browns Or Bounce

Browns is this very comfortable cafe/restaurant in GRA I stumbled upon in January when my friends and I were looking for a place to hangout. Ooh I loved it, they had this section with comfortable sofas, nice paintings and throw pillows, you and your friends can sit in there all afternoon stuffing your face with food, gossiping or doing some work. The ambiance was very good though because of my "diet" I didn't have anything to eat. My friends enjoyed their food. I noticed that there was a waiter waiting on us through out our stay, which I really liked.
A month later I was back there for my sister's surprise birthday party, we sat in that same nice room with the same efficient waiter waiting on us. We ordered our food and it came on time, we were treated with respect even though at some point I realised the waiter was addressing us as "Aunty". The manger came in to give us yummy chocolate cakes on the house. It was a good one. The service was fabulous.
The next time my sister visited there for another birthday party, the service was very good but the food tasted stale. I wondered why???
The answer jumped at me, one night when my friend and I drove to browns and arrived at their gate at 8:10pm only to be bounced by a security officer. "Why?" We asked, confused. Politely he explained that Browns was NOT closed, in fact they open till 10pm, but for security reasons we couldn't get in after 8pm. Looking in their parking lot there were only about 2 cars in there. Now why wouldn't their food taste stale? its a great place that newly opened not very well known yet therefore they don't get that much customers. So why can't they be a tiny bit more flexible?
I liked their customer service and I have to say that their apple pie and ice cream was heaven!!. Though I can understand their plight on the on-going security issues In Nigeria, but there must be a way to deal with it without losing customers or serving stale food..