Friday, 12 October 2007

Customer Satisfaction and The US of A

My experience is that the USA has perfected the art of customer satisfaction to a point where it becomes scary. I was fortunate enough to spend 4 weeks in Washington and Oregon States on business.(Logger stuff, perchance during the Spotted Owl fiasco). An unforgettable experience, but that is not what this is about.
The level of customer awareness is incredible. Three experiences come to mind.
The first one was ToysRus.(I really cannot remember the outlet, somewhere around Seatac or Federal Way.) Just before going home I bought the kids presents, as one does when going home. I bought a video game, hardware plus a "free" game, on a special. 150 U$ instead of 170 U$. I get to the till to pay and I explain to the lady that I am from South Africa and I am not sure whether the system is compatible with RSA. No problems, the friendly lady takes me to a Man in an office. No problem, the Man will phone and find out. One call to the USA somewhere, and that guy had no answer. No problem again, the Man phones South Africa, nobody answers the phone. I am embarrassed, its know working hours back home. No problem, the Man phones the UK. The guy in the UK is not certain either. Now the man says, "Take it, if it does not work we will refund you". Thre cynic in thinks "Yes, I have heard that one before, literally millions of feet walking through this store and you are going to remember this conversation". But, I buy it, and I carry the big box back to RSA via the UK. No space in luggage, its under my arm or between my feet the whole way.
Get back to RSA and it does not work. Need a transformer to convert the signal that will cost more than the game. I write the exercise off to experience and forget it. Two months later a return visit from a business friend from Federal Way. Over a beer The Story comes out. "Where is the receipt?" he demands. I have it in my briefcase. He phones ToysRUs, takes the package back to the USA and I am refunded the full price ,170 dollars, and not the special 150 dollars, that I paid for it.
Where I come from that is unheard of service.
The Scary one. McDonald's. I nearly had a panic attack when I popped into a big outlet and wanted a burger. Try and ask for a "Burger please". The possible permutations for your order rival that of a national lottery, and if you don't know what you want as in EXACTLY, move away and puzzle it out via the pictures on the wall. No jamming the queue here. (Subway!!!....I am remembering the Subways....good stuff)
The last one. " If you are not served within 3 minutes, the meal is free". That concept is totally unknown to me. So I arrive @ 5am in the morning at at "all night" establishment and sit down. I don't want to be late for my "ride" and I am early. "Can I help you?" the cheery, friendly greeting. " No thanks, not now, I am waiting for people". The smile dissapears, another asshole looking for a free meal. Took a a couple of days before she got used to the "guy with the funny accent".
Oftentimes I hear Americans complaing about service, in the bigger picture the USA is light years ahead of anybody else.
Good Stuff


Hor ny Ang Moh said...

Hallo! That is why USA is almost the 'first' or the 'best' in almost every field!Oh ur site is most interesting! BTW tq for dropping at my site! Have a nice day!

Marloes said...

I agree, as far as fast and customer friendly the USA is on top of the list

Debbie Dolphin said...

I am surprised by the first two comments above.
Please don't say that to my brother who ordered a dinner and never received it. When he asked why his wife was eating and his food had not arrived, he was told that everyone shares their meals here!

Would anyone describe this as Customer Satisfaction?

I am no expert on Global Customer Satisfaction but I suspect many Americans can relate to bad service and customer dissatisfaction! I can understand Grahams experience because he is comparing two different nations. It seems to me, my husband and I experience better Customer Satisfaction and friendlier service as foreign tourists!