Monday August 13, 2012
A question of customer service in Germany
SAMBAL ON THE SIDE BY BRENDA BENEDICT
Here’s a simple quiz for readers to test their knowledge of customer service in Germany.
I DIDN’T want to rant this time lest I be dismissed as a grouchy old goat. So as I sat there contemplating the blinking cursor, I chose to change tack.
I’ve fashioned a simple (non-ground breaking) quiz to let readers test their knowledge of customer service in my host country.
While composing the answer options, I also realised that I could, in fact, relay subtle messages to family and friends of my recent odyssey in a “communications wilderness”.
I hear you saying, “Eh?”
Well, we had to wait for an inordinate amount of time after our move to have a decently working landline and Internet connection. This despite being told from the get-go that “everything can be done very quickly online and all we require is your new address and the telephone number of the previous tenant.”
Furthermore, living in a country whose name often comes up during discussions on “saving the Eurozone”, one should be forgiven for expecting its technology – and most importantly, its customer service – to be far superior to that of some sleepy backwater.
But let’s return to my quiz which focuses very simply on one aspect, namely the palaver you could possibly endure in securing a landline and Internet connection. Here goes:
1) How far back prior to your moving date must you secure an appointment to have a technician drop by and set up your landline and Internet connection?
a) 1.5 months
b) 1 month
c) It all depends on the hearing abilities of the call centre personnel because sometimes they can and do get information (like house numbers) wrong and thus set your appointment date back a couple of days.
2) What is the average wait time to have your call attended to by the call centre personnel?
a) 5 mins
b) 10 mins
c) More than 10 mins
3) What is the possible time frame given for you to expect the technician to arrive at your home on the agreed date?
a) Anytime between 8am and 10am
b) Anytime between 8am and 12 noon
c) Why bother when they sometimes do not show up and offer no satisfactory explanation.
4) How many of such appointments could one expect to make before said technician actually turns up?
c) More than 3 appointments
5) Given a time frame of 8am -12 noon, what time could one expect the technician to show up?
a) At 8am. Aren’t they known to be punctual?
b) At 9.37am. Frankfurt traffic can be unpredictable, especially when it rains.
c) At 11.49am, when you’ve chewed off half your hair in agitation.
6) Can one expect an unequivocal apology for no-shows or delays?
b) Yes “but I’m not to blame”
c) What’s an “apology”?
7) So finally, how long could it take for one to get a decent landline and Internet connection?
a) 2 days
b) 7 days
c) 27 days
If you chose mostly As: You are an optimist. This should serve you well if say, you are nursing a bad case of laryngitis and are forced to nevertheless wait at home although your throat feels like it’s being sliced with a serrated knife.
You even forsake toilet breaks for fear that the almighty technician might ring the doorbell once and take off, without giving you enough time to run out of the toilet and buzz him in.
Best to make that doctor’s appointment and remain optimistic that you will be able to see him that very day, give or take two hours in the waiting room.
If you chose mostly Bs: You are a realist. You accept and are forgiving of people who sometimes err. You try to remain polite and patient with the sometimes “bodoh sombong” staff on the other end of the line while doodling nooses on your notepad. You know that being assertive could have you struck off the waiting list as punishment. Beware of becoming passive-aggressive.
If you chose mostly Cs: You are on your way to becoming a cynic. You are probably already plotting on where else you’d rather retire. You are also most likely to say, “I’m sure this guy is not going to turn up today” and there’s a three out of four chance that he won’t.
You are advised to engage others – such as mothers-in-law with time on their hands – to persistently call the service centre to finally nail down an appointment and ensure the man shows up. Beware of stomach ulcers.
■ Brenda Benedict is a Malaysian living in Germany. She is currently formulating a lengthy letter of complaint to the local Consumer Rights Association.