Google+ Consumer Psyche: Service?


Tuesday, September 30, 2008


At Shoppers Stop, a young man approached and asked if he could help. I told him I needed a cotton kurta; he brought me silk. Really, he wasn’t helping so much as hanging around. But thinking of my task, I remained calm and began chatting.

He earns Rs5,000 monthly; my total bill alone that day would top that.

“So do you like working here?”
He shrugged. “It’s only my first week.”

That explained it. I looked around and saw dozens more clerks, stacking clothing or standing guard. Most customers were being left on their own.

Bad customer service? No, actually.

That, says Mall, is the way it should be. While he agrees that better and more intense training is needed, maybe the answer lies with the consumer also understanding his role in the new formula. Empowerment of workers is great, he continued, but the best part of the retail boom is the chance for the consumer to be empowered.

“For the Indian customers, they are still shifting from general to modern trade, from service stores to self-service,” he said, adding that the transition will take some time.

He used the example of a woman buying sanitary napkins from mostly male shopkeepers, possibly even someone known to her and her family. Isn’t it better now that she can go pick up her own pack? Once upon a time, Mall reminded, Indians couldn’t sit or lie on mattresses or beds for purchase. The advent of the department store and home furnishings showrooms has changed all that. He added, “Maybe the biggest service we can provide is to keep the customer service person out of the transaction.”

Perhaps the entrance of Westerners’ brands might bring their do-it-yourself attitude, too. That’s one way to conquer the divide.

Read more what S. Mitra Kalita has to say.

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