Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Cultural Bit: Customer Service Rant

Never so much have I appreciated the exceptional customer service in the US. Usually, customer satisfaction is a high priority whether the service may be a store, restuarant, etc. For goodness sakes, customer service is so important that there are even phone numbers to call to get the help and information you need (besides the point that it may take a few hours to get through). Here´s my little rant on it´s non-existence in Peru. First, I will share one of many instances that takes place very frequently.

Last week Rafa and I went to a little home-style restaurant (referred to as a Menú) just to get a quick and cheap lunch. The menú of the day usually consists of soup, a main dish, and a tea or drink for a low price. In this case, the menú was 3 soles. A girl came to our table to take the order. We both ordered Milaneza de pollo, a plate of chicken and rice. Rafa wanted a fried egg with it and asked the girl. First, she said no they couldn´t do it. Then Rafa and I looked at each other in disbelief - eggs are a common ingredient that every restaurant has. We asked again, ´´please just a fried egg to go with it´´. She was reluctant and went to ask the chef, probably her father. She came back and said it would be 5 soles. We said forget it because a fried egg should only be worth an extra 50 cents.

So you can imagine a frustrating situation as this. Firstly, we are giving business to this place and they aren´t willing to accomodate what we want, although it was readily available. Even if they were to charge for the extra egg, it shouln´t be 1/3 of the price more.I accredit this lack of customer service to several factors: 1. People hardly ever tip, except in nice/touristy places 2. It´s usually big stores/corporations that influence policy about customer service and this is not as frequent here 3. Generally, there´s not an interest in offering help to potential clients.

What I don´t understand: If vendors and owners showed a bit more interest in trying to please customers, they would have more happy clients. More happy clients = more business.

On rare occasions, someone will offer advice or explain something. On a rare occasion, the woman in line next to me will explain what carnicera meant when she asks ´económico o especiál´ and I had a puzzled look on my face. When little instances such as this occur, it makes a huge impact and gives a little bit more hope that people really care.

Returning to the US I will even appreciate the salesperson, chasing me down and making sure everything is to my liking. 

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