Customer Service – Attitude, Authority, Access to Information and Communication.

What really happened is that two persons from the sales department of a publishing house decided to be proactive with a customer.

Let us look at this a lit more in depth. The publisher’s Pune and Mumbai office is primarily set up to move their published books onto the shelves of booksellers in Maharashtra. Since they are very big in the field of educational books, they are very active in Pune where the Universities and other educational institutions have made it a very big market for their products.

In the normal course, these two gentlemen never come in contact with an actual end user. Their contacts are with libraries, educational institutions, and booksellers.

The normal reaction for someone in a similar position is to say “Sorry, this is not my job.” Now, why did these two gentlemen not take recourse to this route and went out of their way to help an ultimate customer for a book that would have cost about 165 rupees in retail?

Sitting far away from the scene of action and not ever having met either of the gentlemen, I can only guess the thought process of the first person – the Pune Representative. He must have thought to himself, “here is an opportunity to get to do something for an ultimate customer. We never get an opportunity to do so. Let me try and help him in some way.” Unusual, and exactly the kind of thinking, that any organization would expect from its employees. Mind you, this gentleman is an employee, not an owner. If I were the owner, I would expect to instill this kind of an ATTITUDE in all my employees. Quite whether this was done in this case, I do not know.

The next stage. The Pune Representative telephones his office in Mumbai after having found out that with his resources, he is unable to find out any bookseller with available stock in Pune. The Mumbai office has access to stock records and finds out that one shop, Landmark in Pune has stock. The Mumbai representative ensures that a copy is reserved, makes sure that the shop’s management will arrange for home delivery, and then calls me up.

What has happened? Here too it is a matter of ATTITUDE, tying up lose ends before making any kind of promise and then acting on solving the customer’s problem.

The third stage of the bookseller coming into the picture. Here again, it is a chain of bookshops and manned by employees. All the people involved here too, have taken steps to ensure that the publisher’s commitment and the customer’s requirement are met, without trying to pass the buck anywhere else. They could have easily said, that home delivery is not possible and that the buyer could come over and purchase from the stock. But, having agreed to oblige the publisher, they did not. Here, there is an ATTITUDE as well as, another very important ingredient, AUTHORITY. The management has given enough authority to the local staff to take unusual decisions in the interest of Customer Service. Such delegation of authority is rare and it has come as a surprise to me that this chain of bookstores has done so. My compliments to them.

There is yet another element, the third element of Customer Service in this case, and that is ACCESS TO INFORMATION. The smooth way in which the Pune office could access Mumbai Regional Office and they could locate stock, communicate with the stock point and persuade them to act in an unusual manner brings us to the last element of excellent COMMUNICATION. Me to Pune Office to Mumbai RO to Landmark Pune to Mumabi RO to me and finally Landmark Pune to me.

I doubt very much that all this could have happened if the communications between all the players had not been of excellent quality and purposeful.

We shall look at this aspect of Communication tomorrow.

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