South African consumers are often oblivious to the poor standard of service delivery we seem to encounter on a day to day basis. The reason for that is because we do not know what good service delivery is as a result of the poor quality of service delivery we are constantly exposed to. Not only do we not know what good service is, but we are not aware of service recovery, because so many suppliers do not have any policies in place to make up for inexcusable service delivery. Allow me to elaborate on my encounter with the Vodacom store on the upper level at Canal Walk this week and I will of course bring to light Vodacom’s efforts to rectify the situation.
When one walks in to a store there are certain things that consumers inadvertently pick up on. As a ‘walk-in-store’ one would expect every aspect of the store and the employee’s to make customers feel welcome. When employee’s stand at the entrance of the store with their arms crossed eyeing customers as they approach the store while they are having a conversation with their colleague standing on the other side of the entrance my first impression is I am unwelcome and I have interrupted something. When the employee first finishes off their conversation before they offer to be of service I am already unimpressed.
When I was finally helped the employee seemed uninterested in helping me and all I wanted was to send my phone in for repairs. Parting with a smart phone these days is difficult enough. I am sure there are consumers out there who could not live without their smart phones so when they break the frustration has already set in. After taking the phone a part and about 10 minutes of whatever the employee was inputting on to the system I was then asked for my ID. I have never heard of needing an ID document to book a mobile phone in for repairs. My driver’s license would not suffice as it was Namibian, but surely if the police accept it at a road block it should be acceptable for this purpose? Apparently not. The employee did not explain why it was necessary nor suggest I try anywhere else. The disinterested look on her face and dull tone of her voice said enough. I gathered the pieces of my phone together and stormed out the store. I came back and asked two other employees, again standing at the door arms crossed having a conversation, why they needed my ID book and their answer was because it was procedure and they needed my name. I told them I have the phone on contract so they should have all my details on file. They said they do not have access to those files.
Then I began my rage on Twitter asking Vodacom why they needed my ID document. I was pleased that Vodacom responded and immediately and began to deal with this small yet frustrating issue. Did the store pick up the phone to me to call to apologize? No. Vodacom told me that it was NOT procedure and that the store requested my ID document because they were offline. How is that my problem? Personally, I think requesting an ID document to book a phone in to be repaired because you are offline is a bit extreme and not once did any of the three employee’s I spoke to say that. I do not know anyone who walks around with their ID document. Second of all do not tell a customer it is procedure when it is not. That is blatantly lying to my face, because you do not know any better. It should not be my job to deal with incompetent staff members who think I will accept something just because they say it is procedure. That is exactly what those employees expected. They thought I would accept it, shrug it off and make their lives easier by inconveniencing myself. The sheer cheek of it all is what infuriates me. I was then told by Vodacom that the store are now aware of me so I should go back to book my mobile in, because they assume I have time to run back and forth as it suits them? I was also told to ask for a specific employee, which I did when I walked in. After he had booked my phone in and taken all the information he needed did he apologize for what happened.
I have been a Vodacom customer for seven years and Vodacom thinks a phone call from their head office in an attempt to sort out this problem will erase the unhelpful, rude and abrasive behaviour I had to endure from their staff; I think not. If they think the follow up phone call I received 2 days after to ensure everything had been dealt with accordingly will suffice they obviously have no clue about service recovery. Everything that happened I now associate with the Vodacom brand. As far as the brand personality goes all I see is unhelpful, lazy and misinformed.
Bronwyn May (@bronnmay)