Friday, September 12, 2014

First asked, first responded...izzit?

When first come (asked) first served (responded) has very little meaning...if at all.

A consultant sent me a list of modules for the coming months and asked if I were interested to take on any of them. If I were, then I was to reply the e-mail indicating which of those on the list I would do and when I proposed to have the sessions. They also cautioned that some of the modules were out Klang Valley.

I reviewed the list and noted that most topics to be held locally were already 'taken'; I guessed I must have been an almost last resort since the outstation ones were the ones still unassigned. To me, that wasn't an issue. The location, too was not an issue - it was at a locality pretty close to my heart. Furthermore, among the topics at that location were the ones I frequently facilitated on and were 'eyeing', anyway.

And so I replied immediately with my intent, and sought an information to help me plan the dates. The consultant acknowledged my respond, asked for the outlines and promised to revert with the information I needed. She gave me the deadline for submitting the outline and I responded with an okay that I will meet that deadline. I also asked for some insight into the target group to get me on the right track with the outline.

Late evening, I received an e-mail from her, telling me matter of factly that the only slot open to me now was a module that no one has taken up. The venue of that topic was in Kuala Lumpur. If I were interested to take on that slot, then do the needful, and she added as much information as she could to 'help' me prepare an outline. The topic, however, was not one I am familiar with at all.

I read and re-read our e-mail thread. Nope, no mistake about was clear that I had highlighted the 2 slots, and she had confirmed them to me.Am I missing something here, I thought to myself? Did I not reply to her enquiry promptly, and did she not confirmed with me the 2 topics/slots earlier on? So what happened in between?

This brought to mind a very recent incident I had with a senior sales personnel from this consultant. She had text messaged me very late one evening enquiring of my availability on a certain period that was only days away. I replied with an affirmation and I didn't get any response from her. I followed up a day later, and still did not get a response so I decided to let that be that then. Of course, it said a lot of that sales person's integrity when she did not keep me updated or even have the decency to reply to my messages.      

I have associated myself with this consultant since my early days as a free agent. The past 2 years, projects from them have been few and far between. Those that were brought my way were low profile (read: much lower than standard fees, very low trainee turn-out) yet out of respect for the long-term relationship, I honoured those all the same. Of late, I also do hear other associate friends complaining of this consultant's unprofessional attitude towards them.

I firmly believe that my rezeki is not determined by them; Allah knows best and it could be that those slots may be troublesome to me. It was the manner by which this episode was handled that irked me.

Nonetheless I will continue to du'a for the best for all parties; you see, when Allah says that rezeki is meant to be, it is meant to be. This has happened before...:D

Sunday, September 8, 2013 wow!

When my Mastercard expired in July this year, and the replacement card was lost in the mail, I decided to just not renew it. After all, I have my trusted Visa card from the same bank and the limits have been combined. So I figured, I'll just stick to the Visa. And this will hopefully expeidiate my personal plan to cut down and cut back on credit purchases.

I overlooked a few auto debit instructions made to that Mastercard, however. And I only remembered them when I started getting text messages on my mobile phone from these service providers. One being Astro! Nope, my account was not terminated nor blocked or suspended, just that they asked me to check on my billing facility.

The bank told me I have to update Astro with my new auto debit facility so I did. I called their Customer Service Hotline, pushed the few numbers following the machine instructions, was left on hold for what seemed ages, got cut-off, redialed and this continued. Was I frustrated? Surprisingly, no. 

I checked my Astro statement to see if there any other ways I could get in touch with them. And yes, there are. Via facebook and e-mail. I chose to e-mail them an enquiry. Within hours I received an automated reply, telling me they would probably take 48 hours to respond to my specific enquiry but if I still want an urgent reply to please call (oh, yeah???) or send them a message on their facebook page.

I replied that e-mail with a note that my frustration was what led me to e-mail them, then went to their facebook page and scrolled through to read of comments and feedback from other 'likers' of their page. There were a few who had similar requests to mine...changing their auto debit from their Mastercards to Visas but then, because they wanted to take advantage of Astro's current offer to Visa card holders. One caught my attention because he complained he was put on hold for 10 minutes on the Hotline and nothing happened. Hmmm...

Anyway, I decided to send a private message instead of writing my request on their wall. Lo and behold, I got a reply immediately. The response was courteous and gave me specific instructions on how to proceed with my request. As soon as I wrote to thank the person who responded to me, I received a call on my mobile from their Customer Service Support Unit who spoke very clearly, well paced and in proper English. He too, guided me on what I should do to change my auto debit provider. He was responding to my e-mail. wow! I went back to their facebook page and re-read some of the comments. Ah, there it was. The language used by some of the 'complainers'. Strong, aggressive, abusive, rude. I can empathize with the Astro Customer Service personnel for I too was in Customer Service. When you are bombarded left, right and center with such language one after another in a day, you just don't feel like offering the abuser(s) any assistance now, do you?

Yes, as consumers, as customers, we have the right to complaint and raise our grievances to the service provider for any inconveniences. But mind your language, though. Put yourself in their place...would you want to be treated that way?  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Small Fish, Big Fish...

An e-mail reply to my follow-up on a proposal I sent this client is a grave and stark reminder of why I as in Naziq Skills Training, chose to associate with other consultancies and not aggressively pursue business under Naziq's brand.

Why, you ask me? Tiresome, frustrating and pathetic.

I am tired of submitting proposals after proposals, most of them fresh initiatives while others are based on request, only to be told that they have decided to shelve the program. Or that their management has decided on another/different approach. Or that well, our proposal is beyond their budgetary expectation.

And yet there are times when we do learn that they did go ahead with the program...using a different already-decided-on provider who have in their pool of consultants, foreign names, or using an established internationally accredited provider. I mean, they are a GLC, so they should be associated with a BIG name, too! Never mind that the cost to them is almost 5 times what we offer.

If you wonder, aren't GLCs supposed to support local, home-grown SMEs and the likes? Wonder no more because what they are supposed to do does not necessarily translate itself. If they do, it would probably be for the media eyes and publication.

In this particular case, we had done some consultation and training work for their front line in the last quarter of 2012. The management of this subsidiary then asked for a proposal to train and coach their supervisory levels, along the same outline as the one for their subordinates. There was a sense of urgency in the matter, the company was going back to basics with their front-line operations.

A few follow-ups, and some positive responses follow through. Until the last reply to well, a final follow-up, maybe? It seemed their holding company decided at a recent outstation retreat to pursue a similar program on a bigger scale, and being a subsidiary, it is only proper for this company to be part of that bigger picture.

Get the picture now why we chose to not pursue businesses direct, when it comes to dealing with the big fish? In their defense, the company was not at fault. They did gave us the opportunity to serve them...and in a way, we should be proud to have triggered their top management into action and kick-start a similar program on a bigger scale.

Let's du'a, pray and hope we still get to be a part of this exercise...shall we?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year...

Soon as the clock strikes 12 midnight, the calender shifts from 31st to 1st. Nothing new there. Every month end, past midnight, dates automatically change and a new month starts. Only this time, there will be another shift. the column for 'year'.

Tonight, past mid-night, the year column shifts from 2012 to 2013.

2012 has been yet another exciting year for us, career-wise and otherwise. We started with a high and ended like-wise. Alhamdulillah, all praise to Allah swt for giving us the many beautiful opportunities and challenges, and for continuously giving us the ways out of many predicaments.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Waiting is a game of ...

We finally completed the last leg of the program for this organization. While the management calls it a Transformation Program, I see it more of a Back to basics one. And honest be told, many organizations in the hospitality industry are making a come-back to the basics where customer service are concerned.

Following our proposal to them, we are due to proceed with a few 'afters' sessions of Mystery Calls and possibly Mystery Renters to gauge how well staff who went through the program implement and put to practice what we shared.

Thing is, while these sessions are included in the proposal and packaged, we need funds to run them. Nothing comes free, and nothing comes cheap. There's the matter of getting other people to be the Mystery Callers and Renters. And there's the matter of us having to reimburse those who have had and who will be, helping us. And then there's the matter of us not getting what's due to us yet!

Under the normal circumstances, I would not be as anxious since this organization is part of a multi-national GLC, and is able to pay. But when it involves having to pay other people for their services, I do have to be jittery. I do not wish to be associated or placed in the same basket as those who seem to take the services of home-based freelance workers for granted.

For this project to happen excellently, we had focused a lot of our time on it, and in so doing have had to be very selective in accepting other job offers that fall in the same time frame. That is the main cause of concern now, with this delayed payment from the project. Short of funds to be re-directed to pay off the hands that helped us in this project.

On our part, we followed up regularly - with both our debtor and creditors. The channel of communication has to stay open. It would not do for us to keep silent to our creditors, especially since they are our friends too. Haven't we heard of relationships being severed over money? Well, this is something we hope and pray not to happen.

It is sad though that this organization once known to be a good paymaster has come to this. Have all those service mindset ways of running its business dissipate and disappear with the changing of hands when almost all of the 'old' set of manpower has left - either to retirement, or to better prospects? Couldn't those who are still around from back then, stood firm in their commitment to excellent service delivery and continue plus make things better?

But then perhaps those who stay behind have never been of that mindset before...

Meanwhile, I continue to make du'a that the cheque will be ready soon. As it so happens, my 'old' Waja is still in the docks, my new washing machine has broken down, the children's bathroom floods whenever it is being used...  

Monday, September 10, 2012

You waddle, we waddle...

A few weeks before the aidil fitri break, we were invited to send in our proposal to a company that prides itself as leading its industry in terms of Customer Service. I know the company very well, having spent the most part of my work life interacting with them. And yes, back then I know this company focused heavily on be the leader in providing excellent service to its customers.

It was refreshing to hear from the senior personnel that we met, their acknowledgement that their service delivery has now faltered somewhat. They identified the key areas they admitted needed revamping or enhancement, one being Customer focused and the other, their frontliners command of the English language. The latter had led them to fall behind in business at some of their branches.

So we were asked to hurriedly work on the proposal since the management plans to roll this out in the following month. Wow, such earnestness, such enthusiasm. I applaud them their passion to go back to basics and revitalise service as their core serving, in my opinion. Because this is what the program is all about. In the quest to lead the industry, somehow the company became High tech, Sales focused and lost their High touch!

So we worked on as detailed a proposal as we can - we can't tell all, for reasons of this project suddenly not becoming a reality where our company is concerned; but yes, the proposal we sent in was very clear in the objectives, the methodology and the measurements of success.

There were some issues of their e-mail inbox reaching its maximum capacity, hence a re-sent of our proposal was needed. Other than that technical glitch, the proposal went through. We were immediately informed by a return e-mail that they will revert to us the following week, since it was already a Friday then. Okay, great.

The following week came, but not their response. A follow-up e-mail from us did not get any reply. A phone call no answer. And neither did a sms. Hmmm...okayyy, never mind. Maybe they didn't get our follow-up e-mail so a second follow-up was sent a few days after. Still nothing. Same responses to our phone calls both to the mobile and office numbers, and to our sms. Yoik, this is something else!

This is now following the following week, and still dead silence from them. Did I read them wrong then? Were they serious about revamping their frontliners service attitude or was it just a flavor of the month because they have just gone through a patch of changes in management?

And, can I then fault their frontliners their service attitude if this is the management leading them now? I am still hopeful...but not expecting much.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Talk About Malaysian Hospitality

My flight back last night was on a new Boeng 737-800 series...smells new, feels new, looks new. You can see the look of awe that was given by most passengers, including moi! A few were seen touching the panels and lovingly rubbing them to confirm the newness.

Wide aisle, spacious leg room, very extremely comfortable seats, comes with tv for all class ~ all the things any passenger looks forward to in any air transportation.

The crew were fantastic in terms of service to ALL ~ helpful, courteous and assertive when it comes to matters of safety and security. The stewardess insisted that all big sized hand luggage be kept in the spacious overhead storage and would take the bags to put them there, firmly and politely. The steward made clear announcements (I wish he could go on & the voice) and they all SPEAK FLUENT ENGLISH!

The drawback of last night's flight was the not so smooth take-off at Kuantan Aiport, and the very rough landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Very rough that we literally were bounced off our seats when the types touched the landing strip. Thank God for safety belts! Next time, Mr. Chief Pilot should not let a junior and new pilot fly such a beauty...until he knows how to manage the vehicle!