The New Customer Service Concept

Last Sunday I was helping my colleague select a new MP3 player at Pantip Plaza. When I help people select anything I have to exert quite an amount of self control to stop myself from forcing them to buy what I want, instead of what they want.

The particular MP3 player she wanted was available for what was nearly a 25% discount in one store, DataIT, so we went to the front of the store where it was on display and ‘tried’ asking about it, only to be directed halfway across the store (which is not small) to where the MP3 player section was.

When we asked about it the sales rep, who happened to be standing right next to the display containing the one we wanted, looked somewhat dumbfounded and then explained (in Thai) that the sales representative for the product we wanted wasn’t available. There were already a number of others sales rep’s standing around the area but he didn’t indicate which one it might be, if any.

We decided to wait considering the price and about 10 minutes later someone came over and was trying to help. At the time I thought that we could finally take care of things but alas – he wasn’t the sales rep either! He suggested that we wait. My colleague said she didn’t want to wait and that they should just forget it, which prompted pretend sales rep #2 to scramble for the display in a desperate attempt at saving the sale (now that he realised it was a real sale that he was dealing with).

It was too late. Even though he had managed to get the product we asked for out of the display, in what must have been record time, my colleague advised him that she no longer wished to purchase from the store and we walked to another store to purchase it for a higher price.

I’m not sure how sales representatives are organised elsewhere but back in Australia, a sales representative could sometimes give you an informed opinion (and more often, an uninformed one) on a product that he wasn’t officially attached to.

This is yet another example of the customer providing service to the staff.

5 Comments so far

  1. jeremy (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2005 @ 5:40 pm

    heh… that’s one thing that irks me about shopping in department stores- every time i want to buy something i have to pay for it right away.

    central is a typical example of this. in the area that sells wallets there are salespeople sometimes for each little wallet stand. i’ll be standing at one with someone helping me but if i move over to the next stand the person can’t follow and a new guy has to help me. then if i wanna buy something i have to wait while my salesperson runs off. really not conducive to buying lots of stuff at once.

    on the subject of mp3 players, a friend of mine is in america right now and is on a mission to buy me one of those new apple ipod shuffles. can’t wait to get my hands on it!!!!!

  2. him (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    In england no sales rep would dare say that the right person wasn’t available – it’s not good for business. It’s essentially saying “we can’t help you right now” which is an idiotic thing for any shop to allow it’s staff to say.

  3. Paul (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2005 @ 5:57 pm

    Could be worse. Customer service people in China have to be specifically trained not to say things like “What do you want?” and “Can’t you see I’m busy right now?”, typical for the Chinese retail and airline industries.

  4. FatMan Seoul (unregistered) on February 3rd, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

    If they were all remunerated solely on sales commission, I’m sure things would be different. But we all know that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    Customer service in Korea and Japan on the other hand are at the other extreme. Can’t walk past anyone without them greeting or bowing at you.

    Speaking of ipod shuffle, *sigh* if only it had an lcd screen, even if it’s just a single line monochrome.

  5. cog (unregistered) on February 3rd, 2005 @ 10:51 pm

    Even if the store uses a commission/quota-based salary to drive sales, Thais will still feel an idle inertia to assist customers. This is due to grengjai and an aversion to confrontation Thais will feel if a particular sales required an overlap into someone else’s department or specialty. Incentive can only go as far as the cultural limitation in place.

    (I am not a cultural apologist, even though I may sound like one…)

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