Read this, and if you’re a Malaysian, tell me if you agree with what I say.
I think the quality of customer service in Malaysia needs to improve. How many times have you been behind the counter at some department, only to find yourself staring at someone who’s busy chit-chatting with his colleagues and pretending not to notice you? You wait for a while and you find yourself still waiting for him to finish his story. When he is finally done, he snaps at you, asking you want you want, without a word of apology. Welcome to Malaysian customer service.
This comes from personal experience. I’ve been treated this way many times. On a few occasions, I wanted to just go over to the other side of the counter and give the guy a punch in the face so he might remember next time to do his job better. But I did not because I still consider myself patient enough and I believe that violence cannot solve problems.
A particular incident at the Subang Immigration department really irked me out. I’ve just finish making my passport and was about to collect it from the cashier. The department uses the ticket queuing system so customers don’t need to stand in line to wait for their turn. We just take a number and wait for our number to appear on the red led sign.
There are two cashier counters, but only one is open. The process is fast and straightforward: give the cashier your receipt, pay the required amount and you get your passport. But the person behind the counter is unusually slow for the task. He takes his own sweet time and instead of serving the next customer immediately, he relaxes for a bit before calling for the next number.
Now this may not be a problem if it was on a public holiday. It was on a weekday morning. Everyone who was there had to take some time off their daily routine to come and pay and collect their passport. We all have jobs to do, children to fetch from school, meetings to attend and housework to complete. We want to get over this as quickly as possible so we can move on with the rest of the day. By not doing his job efficiently, he was wasting everyone’s time.
Then the situation took an unexpected turn. A lady was holding the next number. I could see that she was expecting to be served any moment soon. Suddenly, the cashier stood up from his seat, walked over to his colleague’s desk, sat down and had a nice long chat with him. Both of them looked cheerful so I can deduce that they were not talking about work. The lady was stunned. All she could do was murmur to the person next to her, whom I think is her husband.
Fast forward a few months, I’m at the Chinese embassy doing my visa. I miscalculated and I arrived later that I intended to. You see, the embassy does not accept visa applications after (find out time here). When I arrived I had only about 1 hour to spare. I looked at the number of people there and I was thinking that I would never make it. Nevertheless, I filled up the form, and joined the queue. In 15 minutes, I was out of the embassy already! That is not the best part.
3 working days later, I came over to collect my completed visa. 3 minutes later, I was done. I had my visa! The Chinese embassy had totally changed my views about customer service in bureaucratic departments. Not only were they efficient, they were very fast as well. They don’t have high tech computers to help them, yet they take less than 1 minute to serve each customer, never stopping until they have served every last customer on the queue. I wouldn’t have remembered this incident if it hadn’t caught my attention. I was very very impressed. I was wondering, why can’t our other departments be like that?
Which reminds me of another incident at a KFC outlet. I was served by this guy whom I think (I hate to say this but for readers to understand the situation, it needs to be mentioned. I may be wrong though.) is gay. But his approach at treating his customers really impressed me. He would never raise his voice when repeating your order, and he would speak to his customers as if he was having a hearty conversation with them. He was just so full of energy that you cannot help but feel impressed with him. And when you’re done, he would thank you and tell you to enjoy your meal. There is no doubt that he is truly enjoying what he is doing, even if it’s just asking random strangers what they want to eat. I believe he gets job satisfaction for doing that.
It leaves me wondering sometimes why some people choose to serve customers when they suck at it. If they know that they cannot treat customers the way customers should be treated, they are better off doing other jobs that don’t involve customers. For example, you can work in the office and do paperwork. Or you can learn how to treat your customers better. It’s simple. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Don’t do to them things you don’t want others to do to you. Trust me, if your customers are satisfied and happy, you will be too. You don’t want customers cursing your behind your back. It’s a win-win situation. Think about it.
Back to our immigration department scenario. We left off with a fuming lady waiting for her turn.
Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do too. I needed to get that passport done. When I was done, as always with anyone, I thanked him cheerfully. I was cheerful not because he was very fast and efficient. Nor was it because he was polite and helpful. I was cheerful because I was glad I was not him, who was stuck with a job that he hates doing.