Saturday, January 21, 2012

Customer service Indian style

At first glance, it would seem impossible to get anything done here. But in fact, the opposite is the case in many instances. You simply need to know how it is done. Firstly you need to know how to obtain the information you need. If you learn the formula, almost anything is possible.

When we hit Cochin, which is a city with a population of 6.5 million, we knew we had a chance to get a few things done. There was a prescription to fill and Marc’s Blackberry needed servicing. In Vancouver, the prescription would have entailed an appointment with a doctor, the writing of a prescription, drop off at a pharmacy and pick up later in the day. In India, filling a prescription is as simple as writing the name of the drug and the dosage on a piece of paper, jumping in a tuk tuk to the nearest hospital (they seem to be as prevalent as Starbucks in North America!), standing in line at one of the many pharmacies at the entrance of the hospital and voila — mission accomplished.

Servicing a Blackberry may have seemed to be a much more difficult mission, but this where India shines.

While in North America, customer service has all but disappeared, due to our desire to shop without being bothered by sales people, In India the shopping experience is quite different. Storefronts are just that. A man or a woman standing at a counter with all of their goods crammed into a long narrow shop behind them. You have no idea what they have back there so you have to ask. Miraculously, if you hit the right store that seems like it may have the type of item you need, almost always they have what you want — or they will point you in the right direction.

And so the tale of replacing Marc’s Blackberry trackball begins.

We stopped in a mobile phone store (seems like a good start) to ask if they serviced Blackberrys. All three men gave us the Indian head wobble and said we needed to go to Broadway Street and see Road Mobile next to the Star theatre. They wrote it all down on a piece of paper with a phone number. We explained that we don’t have a phone so the phone number would not help us. Marc also showed them what the problem was, which led to several more head wobbles and a verification that Road Mobile would be able to help. One of them called the shop for us and explained that it was too late that day, because the shop was closed, but the next day the shop was open at 10:00 am.

The next thing you need to know about shopping in India is that the tuk tuk drivers are a huge source of information. When in doubt ask a tuk tuk driver. We had no address, but a name of a shop in a busy city and a landmark — the Star Theatre. The tuk tuk driver got us to the theatre. Then we needed to find another mobile phone store to ask again about Road Mobile. Luckily there are also mobile phone shops on every corner so we found one near the theatre and asked. They had not heard of Road Mobile, but they knew of a Blackberry service shop in the building across the street. We climbed the stairs and found a Law bookshop and many other shops, but couldn’t find Road Mobile. One more question and we were directed around the corner on the same floor where a large sign reading ROSE MOBILE alerted us to the fact that we had made it! Road, Rose, close enough!

When we peered into the door of Rose Mobile, we found a young man in a very small blue office sitting at an IKEA type desk covered in phone parts. “I think you can help me!” Marc said to the Blackberry repair specialist as he viewed his work-table, and began explaining his dilemma. Our astute Blackberry specialist assured Marc it could be fixed. The trackball needed replacing and he had the part. “How long will it take?” Marc asked apprehensively. “Five minutes” he answered with the obligatory head wobble, “have seat”. They negotiated a price and within literally seconds, Marc’s Blackberry was apart, cleaned, and new roller ball installed. Another minute or two and it was powered up, and good as new.

I shook his hand and let him know that he had made my husband a happy man in just five minutes! He was absolutely beaming, so pleased to have been of service.

I think you will all agree that trying to repair a four-year old Blackberry in North America would have been all but impossible. We probably would have been advised to buy a new phone rather than send it away to be fixed. They would have told us, I am sure, that they would not be responsible for loss of data and there would have been no guarantee. The price would have been hundreds of dollars in parts and labour, and Marc would have been without his phone for days while they waited for a part.

But not in India.

A 40 cent tuk tuk ride and a $17 charge, a five minute wait and a friendly head wobble.

The prescription by the way was another 40 cent tuk tuk ride and a $6 charge for months of medication. No waiting and a friendly head wobble.

Got to love it!

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