Please scroll to the very bottom to observe disclaimers before proceed…
We are a spoiled society…
Many Bruneians are raised with one or more maids in their households. We are ‘trained’ to be very good managers since young. Starting at 4 years old, we have no problem in giving orders and direction to our helpers. But when it comes to service, this may be why we are lacking so much as a society. The service attitude begins at home, sadly we’ve taken it out of the equation for our children, in exchange for more money, more work and more convenience.
We are bad customers…
Ever notice how, Caucasians are usually being treated better in most part of Asia by the people in the service industry? One could argue that many of the countries (Brunei included) are still stuck in the Colonial mindset of White Supremacy.
While there is some element of truth in the above, we must also admit most Caucasians are better customers than we are. They are often more courteous, respectful and appreciative than most of our counter parts.
Ask yourself: Do you say please everytime you order for your drinks? Do you look the waitresses in the eyes when they greet you? Do you respond to how are you at shops? Do you say thank you every time you leave a restaurant? Do you compliment the chef for a scrumptious meal?
The golden rule of mankind, regardless of what religion you are, applies here: Do to others as you would have them do to you, Luke 6:31. We often forget that beneath the uniform of the attendees are people just like you and I, who want to be treated with due respect and dignity.
It is not until we understand this point and take the initiative to be respectful and nice that we will always be stuck in the third rate service culture.
We do not know how to give compliments!
Ironically, our society is not one that is good with giving compliments.
Could it be because we hold our standards too high (i,e we think it’s cool to be hard to impress)? Could it be our pride? Do we really think that by acknowledging that someone is doing a good job, we’re admitting that the person is superior to us? Do we really think that our staff’s performance will drop if we give them too much praise?
Giving a compliment requires humility, the courage to be honest and a lot of character. However, it is also something we owe to our staff, if we demand the same right to tell them off when they are doing wrong.
Nothing kills enthusiasm faster than letting a good job go un-noticed. Your enthusiasm or the lack there of, will nevertheless determine your staff’s attitude towards your customer. Give positive encouragement in your organisation a try and you’d very quickly see that building up each other is not only fun, but the energy will become contagious!
The key here is not for you to get all offended by my provocative proclamation. The issue should be for you to take a step back and evaluate whether or not we can do something about the situation. I am not prescribing any solution to this paradox, but awareness is definitely the first step. The rest is up to you.
- First, like all other countries, there are individuals / companies in Brunei who deliver fantastic customer services. In my opinion, some of them are as good as any service provider from the best places in the world. I have covered some of the great Brunei examples in my book; The Heart of Service. (email me to get a copy)
- Sadly, the cases of exceptional Customer Service providers are rare in Brunei. I stand by my view, when I say that: The Customer Service culture in Brunei, in general, Suck.
- Some people may take this as an arrogant proclamation. I can only hope that you sense my sincerity and passion transcends through the article; and take it constructively. I believe the step towards any solution is by first, admitting to the fact that the problem exists.
- You may say that my argument is Simplistic and Generalistic. To that I would say, Customer Service is never about rocket science. Why complicate stuff?
- If it sounds like I’m making some very general assumptions, chances are, I am. I wish I had the facts and figure to back up what I have to say, I don’t.
- I am no Sociologist by training however; please allow room for my sociological 2 cents on the above.
- Lastly, let me quote a great storyteller: “Never let the facts get into the way of a good story.” Tony Campolo.