vodaworldWhat is the difference between good and bad service?
The 11th of August was a big day for me. It was Biannual Cellphone Upgrade day. Time to trade in my outdated (and somewhat worse for wear) Nokia 6100 for a shiny new handset. I’d checked out all the specials, seen the ads, and knew just what I wanted… the Nokia 6680.
Having called on a few customers in Midrand that morning, it made sense to me to pay the Mothership a visit. You’ve seen it – Vodaworld is prominently situated next to the N1 highway, a lifestyle-orientated, one-stop megastore for cellphone geeks. I was convinced that choosing to upgrade at Vodaworld (having had some dodgy experiences at Vodashops countrywide), would be a hassle-free experience. Besides, I once scored a hole-in-one on the 9th hole of the Pitch & Putt course and was hoping to have another go at it. However…

…I was disappointed, to say the least.
I decided to pop in to the Vodashop (is there a difference between Vodashop, Vodacom 4U and Vodacom active! stores??), and moved straight to an open booth, waiting to be assisted. A gentleman next to me had two attendants helping him out and there were two other attendants on the other side of the store assisting someone else. The shop was empty otherwise.
No-one greeted me. No-one asked me if they could help me, or told me they were busy and that I just needed to give them a few minutes. I just stood, and waited. I waited over 5 minutes before I had to ask someone to help me, to which I got the reply, “oh sh*t, I thought you were with the other customer!”.
Nice. Would it have hurt to ask anyways? At the risk of me saying, “no, I’m with him”?
“My phone is due for upgrade, I know what I want, can you help me?”
She did help me – she told me she could supply me the phone but I first needed to go to Customer Care to have an order generated. Fair enough. Off to Customer Care. I was already ticked off and the poor guy who landed up talking to me really got the short end of the stick, but basically he told me I couldn’t upgrade because he needed a letter of authorisation from my company first (contract was on company name). He was right, but I was already beyond reason and wanted to play with my new phone. So I got in a huff and walked out – just shows how one division’s act of bad service can affect other areas of a company.
I returned the next day with change of ownership forms filled out, credit proof and all the other red tape, hoping to effect change of ownership and the upgrade all in one sitting. I knew in advance it would be asking a lot, but I wanted to see if Vodaworld was up to the task this time.
And that’s when I discovered The Difference. In this case, her name was Kathy. From the moment Kathy greeted me, she was serving me beyond the call of duty. She smiled, she listened attentively to my sob story and proceeded to solve my problems. Taking the forms and all my details, she asked if I could grab a cup of coffee while she sorted it out for me. And sort she did. I barely had time to sip the cream of my cappucino when the phone rang to tell me that my credit had been approved and my phone was ready for collection. All in the space of a half hour.
Kathy, who deals with a hundred pain-in-the-ass customers like me every day, understood The Difference. She didn’t tell me, “everyone waits four days for approval”, or “it’s company policy”, she treated me as an individual, listened to my needs and went out of her way to assist me, beyond what I deserved.
Sometimes The Difference is just a smile. Sometimes it’s just pretending you like what you’re doing. Sometimes it requires a little effort. But in this age, as we move into The New Economy, when information is so readily distributable and open to such a wide audience – where everyone has a voice – can any company afford to offer anything less?
P.S. If Vodaworld was a hotspot, I’d be there everyday…
P.P.S. The 6680 rocks.
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