Thursday, 3 March 2011

Don't read this

Please stop reading this now if you don’t like reading rants from grumpy, short-tempered and intolerant people like me.

Sometimes I lose my carefully maintained level of tolerance and wonder how people can be so naïve?

We got an email recently from someone who is mature, clearly has a brain and who has a professional job but who had fallen for an advance fee scam. He had received an email from someone claiming to work for a United Nations agency offering him a job in the USA. As part of their training and induction in their new job they would, the emails stated, be required to stay in a hotel in Washington DC for a while. Curiously the enormously funded United Nations couldn’t pay for the hotel themselves and said that:
“all new employees are expected to pay for their expenses and get refunded on the day of their arrival in the United States by the UN along with their other benefits”
To make this payment the victim was required to contact a travel company called “Starlead International” who would deal with the hotel. I wonder why he wasn’t invited to contact the hotel himself?

This “Company” was able, as a result of their extensive efforts, to offer our reader a month’s hotel stay for a discounted $2,070. And he paid them.

Needless to say, he appears not to have checked whether either the UN agency, the travel company or any of the people involved actually existed.

It was only at this stage that he got in touch and asked “Is there any way of me recovering my money?”


My anger is, of course, directed at the scumbag scammer bastards who ripped him off. However I confess that my impatience and intolerance is directed at the victim. I thought we all knew these days about scams? I thought we all knew by now that total strangers don’t get in touch from the internet out of the blue and offer you marvellous things like jobs, education and travel? It just doesn’t happen. Ever.

I also thought that everyone who could read and write knew that you don’t send large quantities of cash to total strangers that you’ve never met, particularly when they demand that you send it via Western Union. Obviously not.

I also thought that people knew by now that training is a waste of time?

Last week I had a bit of a rant about what I thought (and still think) was a ridiculous convention advertised by BNPC. This theme of this convention will be “Delivering a Signature Customer Experience: A Winning Formula for Sustainable Competitive Advantage”. The advertisement invited us to “Participate in the Application of Key Learnings to the Development of the Botswana National Service Experience Framework”.

It went on and on and on about the various “learning points” participants would experience. These involved the liberal use of words like strategy, unique, brand, differentiated and methodology. It even talked about “distilling your organisation’s ‘Customer Experience DNAs’”.

I think most of us know that any presentation, course of tuition or convention that uses such pretentious twaddle is going to be pure hogwash?

But it’s not just BNPC that seems to go over the top.

Last week there was another advertisement, this time for Customer Care Training at IDM. This course covers about everything you can imagine that relates to customer care. Communication, perceptions, interactive skills, “service supplier image”, telephone etiquette etc etc etc. Yet more blah blah blah.

But what surprised me more than all this verbal crapola is that this course is planned to last for 10 whole days. Isn’t that what is called a cruel and unusual punishment? Actually maybe that’s the idea? Instead of firing or fining wayward employees an organisation can just send them on a 10-day customer care training course? That’ll teach ‘em.

I’m not the country’s greatest expert on customer service. No, that’s my wife. But I wouldn’t know where to begin filling 10 days with valuable learning experiences that can teach someone how to deliver excellent customer service. That’s because this simply cannot be taught. I believe with all my skeptical heart that customer service skills cannot ne learned in a classroom with a lecturer boring the pants off the participants.

Did you learn to catch a ball, ride a bicycle or drive a car by sitting in a classroom? No, of course you didn’t. You learned all of these things by doing them. It’s exactly the same with customer service.

Before you respond by saying that all the examples I gave of catching, riding and driving are different because they’re all physical tasks let me disagree. Delivering excellent service IS exactly a physical task. It’s a task that involves standing, walking, talking and listening. It’s most certainly NOT a skill you develop sitting on your backside. Nor is it one you deliver on (or though) your rear end.

My recommendation is not to waste your company’s money or your employee’s time by making them suffer on courses like this one. Instead, why don’t you just let them do some work instead? Why don’t you give the money you would have wasted on the course as a bonus to your staff when they receive praise from your customers?

This week’s stars
  • Lawrence from Game Stores in Gaborone for being friendly and helpful.
  • Paulinah from Village Spar by Riverwalk for being friendly and bubbly and for making a customer smile.

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