Posts Tagged ‘Customer service


“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

“Good morning, you have reached Terranet, for sales dial 1, for support dial 2, for a psychiatrist dial 3. (The last one is my recommendation, strongly)
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

– Hello, this Rami, how can I help you?
– Um, hi, I purchased a new Cisco modem, and I would like you to guide me through the configuration please.
– It’s very easy. Just set the VCI and VPI…
– Woooa! Hold on. Set the what?

– (With an audible yawn) Set the VCI and VPI. Did you configure the modem?
– Huh? I’m calling you for that!
– Is it hooked?
– (No it’s not! It’s in the microwave getting defrosted, I would have loved to say) Yes it is. Hooked and I logged in to it via my browser. Shall I tell you the options I have and you tell what to do?
– (With the end of another long audible yawn) What do you have?
I start enumerating the options for every setting. I only heard his voice twice:
– VCI 0, VPI 35
– Is that it?
– Yes
– So now all I should do is connect to the Internet.
– Yeh
– Thank you

I hang up, reboot the modem and try connecting to the Internet. Nothing.

I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Hussein, how can I help you?
– Excuse me, I was talking to Rami regard..
– Rami is busy on another line, how can I help you?
– Ok. So I got this Cisco modem and I configur…
– Hold on!
– Yes? This is Rami
– Oh hi! I spoke to you a while ago regarding a Cisco modem…
– Cisco modem? Regarding what?
– Configuration?
– Oh yeh. So…
– Well, it’s not working…
– Why did you get a Cisco?
– WHAT?… Because YOU guys told me, get a Cisco or a D-Link… So I got the Cisco…
– Yeh, but the THOMSON you have now is better….
– Ok. But I got the Cisco now, and it’s not connecting. The “Internet” light is off.
– Do you have phones at home?
– Yes. Why?
– Disconnect them all and retry?
– Excuse me?
– Yeh, you might have a “loop”
– A loop? Uumm, Uhun, yep. Cool. Ok.
A loop? I thought I was installing a modem, not knitting a pullover!
I disconnect all the phones at home, reboot the modem and try to connect again. Nothing.
I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Samer, how can I help you?
– Can I speak to Rami?
– Moment…
– This is Rami, how can…
– Rami, it’s me again (I just mastered the cut-you-in-the-middle-of-a-sentence technique!) I disconnected all the phones, it’s still not working.
– Well, I don’t know (with such a lazy voice)… Get a technician… Or the modem is defective.
– Defective? It’s a brand new Cisco! All is working perfectly, but it stops at “Internet”
– Yeh, it might be defective. It happens…
– Oh. It does? I did not know that… Thank you anyway for your precious assistance Rami!
I hang up.
Welcome to the world of Lebanese ISP customer support!
If “For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”, all ISPs would be out of business by now…

Brand Promise my a**!

When was the las time a “Fast pain relief” medicine relieved your pain fast?

When was the last time a “30% whiter” detergent actually made your laundry 30% whiter?

When was the last time a “we care for you” outlet made you feel it cared for you?

When was the last time a “we try harder” car rental made you feel they even tried a bit?

When was the last time an “I’m loving it” made you really love it?

Oh wait, wait, here’s the best: When was the last time a “growing your potential” bank actually made your potential grow?! When they can’t even protect the heritage they “use and abuse” to sell new products and services?!

You work hard on designing a wonderful logo, a great-looking stationery, pay a copywriter to crack this amazing tagline, a top-notch architect to design your office and outlets, and…?

And what?

If this is how these people treat their husbands and wives, no wonder divorce rates are sky-rocketing!!

Which part of “Brand Promise” don’t these guys get?

Just to refresh their memory:

A brand does all it does for one sole aim, keep its promise. That’s how brands make money. A brand’s equity lies within its promise. A brand’s life is defined by how it keeps its promise… Just like a marriage!

So, to those luminaries who think that a nice looking logo with a cute catch line makes a brand, I say: No wonder you still think a bimbo (excuse my French) on a street corner is a bachelor bank manager looking for a date!

I got news for you: your clients and prospects are no as lame as you think. You can’t take them for a ride anymore. No sir! They know what a false promise is. Ask their respective spouses! 😉

Let’s not hide behind our fingers. Here it is straight in your face: When you break a promise, you are a liar! When your brand breaks its promise, it is as much a liar!

The thing is when you break your promise, you could, I repeat “could” try to patch things up, apologize, reverse the damage, and all it would cost you is a something like a lunch. When a brand breaks its promise and needs or tries to patch things up… Think, just think of the damages, and the costs involved in trying, I repeat “trying” and fix it!

Loosing credibility means losing the trust of followers. And when credibility and trust are wasted, what would a brand rely on to make others believe it is really sorry for not keeping its promise? This is the vicious loop a brand is stuck in when it does not keep its promise. That’s one vicious loop which, like a maelstrom, will keep dragging the brand down into the abyss of oblivion.

Some might argue, how could big famous brands break their promise? They’re doing great. Well… They are… sort of! But big brands are not always about the U.S. or Europe… Are they?

Look at big brands in Lebanon. “I’m not loving it” at all. No one really “tries harder”, and for heaven’s sake, don’t convince me that anyone really “cares for me”.

Big brands should start looking at small territories. Our notion of customer service over here is from another planet. Big brands with branches or franchises in Lebanon should keep a close eye on their outposts. When I am not satisfied, I will hate THE brand, not the branch! So finally, big brands are more at risk in smaller territories.

Now look at local brands, their promises, and how they keep them! I’ll tell you how: Like politicians! That’s how!

The equation is simple: Brand -> Promise -> Customer -> Friendship -> Loyalty.

And as the saying goes, “A chain is as strong as its weakest link!”

So, don’t say it, Just Do It, Try Harder to Care for Me. It will be the Fastest Pain Relief, allowing me to Grow My Potential. And that’s how I’m Loving It, Having It My Way!!!

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud


Care before cure. Hospital branding in a heartbeat

Based on a true story (I always wanted to say that).

Note: When I say “hospital” I mean everyone within the premises. Doctors, nurses, staff, etc.

Most, if not all hospitals just don’t get it. We do not come visit for the fun! (say it with the most sarcastic tone you can put). Here’s what I mean: I had to rush my mother to emergency in a very reputed hospital (and I mean “very” reputed), with an atrocious pain. It was 09:45 in the morning. At 16:00 we were still in the emergency, waiting. She first had some tests done which came negative. So her doctor decided she needed a CT scan. That decision was taken around 11:00.

It took us 4 hours of waiting and getting the admission paperwork done and 1 hour to get her down to the CT scan.

Now, seriously, which part of “ouch” don’t hospitals get?!

The funny part is in the way they “patiently” and “professionally” explain to you why these things take time! Now that explanations are duly made, my mom’s pain can take a rest or simply poof! fade… I am just now discovering that paperwork is a considered a form of homeopathy treatment!

When you’re in pain, all you need is some care. That’s the family job they say. Our job at a hospital is to cure. Since when care is not anymore a part of the cure? That’s one. Two, hospitals do not cure. They simply provide the adequate facilities to “try” and cure. In the process of trial, care is an essential element to motivate the patient to cooperate both physically and mentally. Advances in modern medicine have proven that if you are psychologically motivated, you can help fight the illness better and react positively to treatments.

But who am I to argue. I’m no doctor!

What I can argue about is branding, and that’s for sure a turf the medical body misses by miles. And here’s why:

Hospitals and doctors alike love to brag about their Hippocratic Oath. Easier said than done. Comes the application, they once more miss the target by miles.

Have you seen how patients are treated in hospitals? Have you seen nurses pushing them around like punch bags? Have you seen how they kiss up to secure their “tip”? Have you seen doctors making lightning one minute calls to the patient’s room, only to log it as a billable visit? Have you seen how admission clerks, emergency residents, or the best of all, the “customer care” clerks, deal and talk to you?

Did you know that you have to bring your own paper tissues, drinking water, or even soap? Did you know that if you decide to use the hospital’s water, you get tap water in a plastic jug? Tap water!

When was the last time you rang the service bell in your bed and got someone to promptly answer? If and when they did, when was the last time you got your modest request attended to? And, if it was finally attended to, when was the last time you got it with even the embryo of a smile?

Now, for heaven’s sake, someone tell me where is the pledge of curing and bringing comfort hiding in all of that? Really! Maybe I’m just an idiot who’s missing the point.

Have you heard people talking about hospitals? Name one who mentioned a total positive experience. Name one who was able to match the hospital’s publicity messages with the actual experience. Name one who, once he or she stepped inside a hospital, had a sense of assurance or warmth at least, let alone a perspective of cure.

So how do hospitals manage to sustain business? How do they brand themselves?

So far, the answer is clear: “You need us, that’s what we’ve got. Take it or… die!”

This is a dangerous form of disease called monopoly, or a multipoly (I guess the word does not exist, but hey! This is Lebanon, we invented the “word”). The paradox is in the way they “think they act” like businesses. They don’t. Businesses believe first in competition, not monopoly.

When there’s competition, there’s better customer service which leads to satisfaction, which leads to loyalty, which leads to a Brand. Hospitals do compete, don’t get me wrong, but this competition happens on the underlying levels, the ones that are transparent to the patient. They compete to make profit just like any other business. And that’s where the problem lurks. Hospitals are not like any other business; they cannot adopt the same model.

Hospitals are not brands. They are horrible memories. That’s why we remember them, because we fear them. When was the last time a hospital did something to address this syndrome? Some failed attempts tried to position the facilities as a hotel, or boutique-hospital. How pathetic is that? The subliminal message was: If you have cash, a lot of it and are willing to pay some for the treatment and a lot for the flashy part… we’re here for you. The next thing you find is a piano in the lobby!

To care to cure. I always tried to sell this line to a hospital while trying to brand it. None accepted. This is scary! Notice, there is no comma between “to care” and “to cure”, and for a good reason. Figure it out, I’m not going to explain it. And then try to understand why hospitals fear this line where it should be their sole motto.

Some might argue that this paper is due to my frustration and that it is subsequently subjective.

Well Daaaaah!

Do you really expect me or anyone to be objective vis-à-vis healthcare? Oh, and by the way, it is called HealthCARE! How ironic.

The concept of care is subjective by its very nature. Hell! The concept of cure is even more subjective. Have you ever heard of a “second opinion”? Did you ever get the same diagnostic from multiple doctors on the same issue? No? Good. So why again am I the one who is supposed to be objective?

I am wearing two hats now. The hat of the Brander and I made my point, and the hat of the consumer and the frustration shows it. In both cases it. Brands send messages and the consumer bounces them back with his or her “subjective” reaction upon encounter, not on destination. At destination, it is too late. So at the end, as Branders, and when it mostly comes to healthcare branding, the more we think subjective and act objective, the more we fit the patients’ patterns.

The problem with hospitals is that they act subjectively and then, with enough insolence, ask us, the patients, in pain, to be objective!

Objectively, why does everyone fear hospitals and prefer to wait till the last-minute to forcibly visit?

Objectively, why we never understand one single word we’re told by doctors or written in the plethora of forms we fill and sign?

Objectively, why do we have to repeat our medical history to five different persons filling five different files in one single day? Aren’t patients supposed to have one unified file on the hospital’s database?

Objectively, why does one staff bring dinner to a person who was just told by another staff that she cannot eat in preparation for a procedure?

Objectively, if hospitals really do care about their brands, why don’t they match their overall service and human experience with their interior architecture? Or better, why don’t they exceed it? Speaking of architecture, did you ever manage to use a hospital’s signage system? Did you notice how we have to ask ten people on our way to find our destination? The funniest is that even staff get lost sometimes while giving you directions!

Objectively, a hospital brand’s nucleus lies in how human it gets. In their defense, hospitals don’t always have the power to cure or save, but patients need to understand that. The only mean to make them do so is through the brands hospitals build for themselves. It is in the brand that values like care are embedded. It is a human fact, when someone cares for you, you are inclined to believe and trust them; even if they fail to extend all the assistance, because “we know” they tried their best.

So, objectively, when was the last time you felt that a hospital tried its best? Sometimes we’d rather die than visit the very place that’s supposed to save our lives. Sadly enough, they do save a lot of lives, they are good at what they do, but they miss a small but detrimental detail; telling us!

© 2010 Ibrahim Lahoud


January 2020
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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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