Meet Kaiz and Michelle Patel, advocates of good quality customer service
Photos by Sonny Espiritu
Shoot location courtesy of LifeScience, BGC.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Damon Richards
We go through our daily routines consuming products and services – logging on to our wifi at home, buying coffee from Starbucks, transacting with our banks, eating lunch in some nearby restaurant, or calling our mobile network provider. All these things are typical with our daily lives but we generally do not think about “customer service” until something goes wrong and we need our service providers to fix stuff for us.
As customers, every time our expectations our met, we don’t say “Oh, what a good service,” because we already expected to get what we paid for. We go in a store or buy a product with certain expectations – we buy coffee and expect it to be hot, we pay the parking fee and expect a receipt, we log on to the internet and expect our service providers to provide us with the Mbps speed we paid for. We open a can of tuna and don’t expect a fly inside the can, we expect the guards in the bank to open the door and greet us good morning, or buy a car and expect the dealers to give us after service care. When we get more than what is expected we become happy customers. “Oh, they gave me a free donut with my coffee and the barista is so nice, we’re already on first name basis,” then we start to think, “I will keep coming back to this store because they have such good service.” And then when our expectations are not met at all, “What? I don’t have cell signal again?” – all hell breaks loose and we start to complain, and only then do we think of the words “customer care” or “customer service.” No one remembers good customer experience, but everyone remembers GREAT and BAD customer experience.
One of my pet peeves is bad customer service and dealing with incompetent people. I usually find myself on the phone complaining to customer service providers or stores. “It’s been a week and you have not delivered my clothes from dry cleaning!” “Why did you swipe my card without checking if your product is available?” “Why on earth would you drag your huge trash bin in front of me while I am eating (currently swallowing and the stench of rotten food entered my mouth!)?” “I asked you NOT to put meat ‘cuz I’m a pescetarian, and yet you mixed my food with animal carcass,” “Girl, stop with the American accent, tagalog ka na lang ako nahihirapan sa ‘yo eh.” My brother used to work for a call center and he said, he never wants to get me as his caller. According to him, when they get callers like me all of the agents will be looking at each other and signaling, “Ayan na naman sya!”
Having been a victim of so many bad customer service experiences and being a constant irate customer on the phone, I came across Kaiz and Michelle Patel who run SatisFIND. SatisFIND is a company that provides business owners and management a truthful picture of what their customers really experience in visiting their stores through a system called Customer Experience Measurement (CEM), with focus on mystery shopping as methodology. “We do not simply focus on the bad, we want to help people identify their stars,” explains Kaiz, SatisFIND co-founder and director for International operations. “A good program is catching people doing things right; with us you have a chance to recognize good performance, and that can be the company’s motivation in improving their services,” adds Michelle, founder and managing director who, together with her husband, runs the company.
“I am a magnet for bad service, my bad luck inspired me to start SatisFIND 10 years ago. I wanted companies – both big and small – to take customer service more seriously,” says Michelle.
“When Michelle started SatisFIND, ‘customer experience’ as a concept was not yet embraced by the business community. Back then, companies in the Philippines were still trying to understand customer service and what it meant for them,” adds Kaiz. Michelle made it her lifelong mission to help improve customer service by giving customers a voice. Through SatisFIND, they use real customers and match them with the profile of a company and assign them to a project using mystery shopping as a tool to evaluate the performance of the different brands they are partnered with.
Michelle explained that Customer Experience Measurement (CEM) has been a very effective way for management and business owners to find out their current strengths and ways how to improve their customer experience. It has helped identify training opportunities and give them feedback on how well programs are executed or implemented at the store-level. CEM gives them that snapshot of how their customers really experience their brand when no one’s looking.
“Our clients cut across demographics. We have luxury brands and we have mass brands as well so we match people who are really their target market. The advocates (a.k.a. the mystery shoppers) have to give their consent. By the end of the day, it’s supposed to be fun for the advocate. They’re like a ‘spy,’ we’re not asking them to do something out of the ordinary, we never say ‘Uy, you need to scream or get angry,’ – no, but if there’s something to complain about during your experience, yes by all means, raise it to the managers,” explains Michelle. “We have clients from the travel and hospitality industry, government, banking and finance, retail, food, and distribution companies. We have been fortunate that our community of customer advocates share the word about SatisFIND and have contributed to our expansion.”
Hearing the 007-spy act made me want to log on to their site and sign up as an advocate. It sounds like an interesting activity for the mystery shoppers. I’m like, “That’s so cool! So all you have to do is go to the place and find out what’s wrong with their service?” But Kaiz explained that their business is not really looking for what’s wrong; what’s important is to look at what’s right and telling the story of the experience, good and bad. “We really want to tell the story of what happened so it can help our clients.”
Because of globalization, we are more aware of how customers are supposed to be treated; some even make “Customer is King” as their mantra. “There are so many options now, so if a customer sees a company is doing better it becomes the norm,” says Michelle. “Now other companies need to catch up.”
In the Philippines if maingay ka ikaw ang papansinin. Companies tend to treat media or online bloggers better because they know these have the power to voice out complaints or the power to highlight what’s good about a company’s product or service. But great customer service should not only cater to those who can say something, companies should think about the needs and expectations of a customer even before the customer thinks about it and asks for it. For Filipinos, our culture plays a huge role in customer service. As Kaiz mentioned, we wait ‘til someone says something and it’s only then that others would speak up as well. Inherently, we are all sensitive people; we don’t like to offend people if we want to point out something.
With the advent of social media, it became easier to speak to a brand whether to complain or otherwise. “With a click of a button, your entire network will come to know about your bad experience with a certain brand. Sadly, not many stories on good experiences are shared on social media, there is more attention given to the bad experiences. Recognition for excellent performance is important. We need to recognize role models for service. There are people out there who do care about the kind of service they offer their customers every day,” explains Michelle.
Today is the age of customer experience. Companies need to step up and up their game. “When your people fail to serve your customers it is a reflection of management. It means you’re not able to support your employees. Care to ask, and care for your people, ask how you can you help them,” says Michelle. “Build a stronger culture. Hire more people, who are the right people. If you have these people in place, who are passionate and who believe in the vision of the company, the ‘bad seed’ eventually leave the company because they feel they no longer belong there.”
The key to good “customer service” is building good and continuous relationships with your customers. Care about the company, care about the employees, and care about the people buying your products. And as for the customers, know what you paid for and always make sure you get what you deserve, because just because we live in a third world country, it doesn’t mean that the kind of services we get should also be “third world.”
If you want to register as an advocate and experience how it is to be a voice for customers, register at www.satisfind.com and find assignments that fit your profile. If you have stories about your customer experiences that you want to share with SatisFIND you may email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information contact +63 917 527 8074, follow them on Facebook at SatisFIND or email email@example.com.
For comments, suggestions and violent reactions, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For my crazy life’s adventures follow me at @tatumancheta on Instagram and Twitter.