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:
ME, Hair madness

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.