India – First Impressions

Wow … everything I thought represented normal …

Everything that I thought was normal, was turned on its head, and the the values of some of the people I have meet are … well let me say they are not mine …. the opportunity to get little victories over you (for as little as 5 rupees, about 10 cents) … they even smile when they do, once, when it happens, it tends to leave a bad impression … when it happens more than once, it leaves a bad taste … and a yearning to find someone who has some honour – my feedback from others here, is if you find someone who does what they say they will, then you have found a gem, stay with them.

I am sure the shops and companies I have visited do not train people in customer service ( World brand names ) … they do not value the customer at all … they deal only in cash and when you ask for a receipt … it never comes. A perfect example was when I was hunting for a Phone provider … I ended up using an Inidan brand, Airtel .. which although they have their problems at least I have a relationship with them that allows me to get things done.

I am on a sabbatical … which may turn out to be a permanent one. I had thought would be able to leave the “civilised” worlds ego centric. money focus behind, but here it is even worse … status is everything …. the car you drive, the degree you have, your sex, and how you dress determines engagement and productivity …. and hence all these things determine if you will be successful in your enquiry or not. To become credible in the eye of commerce here, I have had to drag out my academic titles .. which have made a dramatic difference.

For instance, as I am staying here in India for so long, I thought it might be a good idea to open a bank account, in fact I had investigated this before I arrived … it is allowed for tourists who stay for the maximum of 6 months … I went to four banks here, all of the provided staff members say no, I even asked them to check up with their head office, they reported back … No … Yesterday I found someone in a company that must have actually asked someone in the organisation, who knew what they are doing and hence I am setting up an account here.

We must remember that I am new here, as well I came from a foreign culture, Perhaps I have had bad experiences, and of course I am viewing this from my former normal of business engagements in Australia … which has no relevance here in India.

To me in these engagements, the single biggest thing that is needed is empathy, for staff to have explicit training in customer service and to have some interest and understanding of the customer / clients needs – however the culture of organisations that do not care about the customer, comes down from the Ownership and upper management … perhaps they should remember a quote from Henry Ford …. the customer pays the bills, the company only handles the money.

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