Are we ready?
Activists will get active. Left wing and right wing will jump up too. Some will be aghast. Others will smirk. Some will have their horror stories. Others will depend on hearsay.
But opinions will fly back and forth and all of us will have one – the quality of which would be anyone’s guess. Amongst this cacophony the realism of the starkness of our service sector will get lost. Also gone with the wind or the noise will be the real arguments and the doable solutions. If any(!??)
From my last economic input based read we as a nation head the list of countries in the world who have the youngest work force. As I read through this information, there was this swelling with pride kind of feeling. It passed as quickly as it came. For though technically correct, we suffer from a general apathy slumber-ness. The dispiritedness and lack of interest in an output which shouts ‘quality work’ has become a norm rather than an exception.
The pandemic has not helped. The sociologists and all the conscience keepers of our society and nation have a ‘cluck-cluck’ bahut-burra-hua-with-them observation but despite the ‘bahut burra hua’ (= a lot of bad had happened with one) with many of us, we haven’t sacrificed our sense of balance and integrity. There’d be many reasons for services in our country to be poor but the foremost is the intention to never deliver/turn out exemplary work. Teamed with this is the acceptance of mediocrity and the absence of the will to pursue those at fault.
And rightly so too. For today my perfect start to a day went for a six outside the stadium of peace of mind in an instant of a disrespectful phone call. An innocuous booking for deep cleaning of two ACs found my today tossed out of the window. Urban Company has had me as their client for an infinite number of years since their very inception in my city. The services were sketchy and the delivery of quality service an issue 4 out of 5 times. However, it was managed each time with a few over the phone complaints to an unknown person over their customer service calls and a bit of tightening on site of wherever I had asked for their service. My requirements were limited to their deep cleaning services, plumbing and an odd repair request here and there.
The pandemic has brought out the worst in us no doubt. Yet there were those delightful beacons of hope who held on to our faiths and allowed us to calm ourselves down with an assurance that all is well. Indeed.
Yet there remained those like the one from today who made us lose that faith with a tiny winy phone call and made me vow to look for service near our local markets and with references rather than promote companies which provide services through vendors or ‘partners’ as they prefer to call these unethical service providers.
The Urban Company’s ‘trained to speak properly’ and supposedly verified ‘partner’ had rights of privacy even after he misbehaved over a telephonic call and cut-off my conversation with him mid-sentence & literally hung-up on me while I as a customer was left to the mercy of a website in which I had to laboriously type out (or sorry, my bad )- ‘raise a complaint’.
I was willing to do that as well. But before I could say: Wow at being hung-up upon, my phone dutifully flashed an auto-generated message saying that “ Hi, Unfortunately, our service partner _________ is facing some issues and will not able to service your booking at the requested time 08:03 hrs. Our team is already working to get you an alternative service partner at the earliest available slot. We will call you within next 30 mins with a few options that may work for you. Apologies for the inconvenience.
– Urban Company Team” followed by a message through their till now unresponsive website that my service had been rescheduled to a later date. Needless to add the promised call never came.
It did not matter whether it was convenient for me or whether I’d be in town that day – the Urban Company service ‘partner’ would turn up to do a service at his own sweet will.
Services rendered through the commercial services sector (like the one delivered by Urban Company) require sensitization of staff to a very high degree of understanding.
It requires an adherence to proper time management, insistence on quality work and work balance and work ethic coupled with proper employee verification.
Being a disorganised sector till now and having a wide range of different levels of educated staff on board, is a challenge for these companies. Agreed.
Then do not bite more than you can chew. Stretch your operations only till where you can service well. Do proper service ‘partner’ verification.
I had a 23-year-old son impersonating for his father while his 26-year-old brother was doing the same nearby in the vicinity, on the same day – again masquerading to be his father. I have a hunch the father was out on a service call too, albeit playing himself. Again, the service provider UC.
The nobility of wanting to help and provide work to a ‘skilled’ workforce stays just that -a noble thought. A few days of training and inputs on behavioural changes with customers after a lifetime of poor role models and a life steeped in struggles for a daily income is too high an expectation. Moreover, there’s a draught of effective monitoring daily. Too much of a reliance on tech and the desire to make the platform available for a ‘large skilled work-force’ in a completely disorganised sector without proper checks and control is a recipe for disaster.
The thought is good.
It is also noble.
It is a thought towards nation building, no doubt.
But along with their rights is also the consumer’s right to good quality service when the price quoted for the service is being paid for.
Social experiments to empower skilled workers in their craft are successful in many new start ups I have been reading of and have interacted with but there’s a familiar and understandable thread which runs through most of them which makes an experience with them memorable – they are empowering the untapped skills pool of our country but keeping a strict quality check on the final outcome through their own highly motivated team of working professionals.
A loosely tied together service provider platform which deals with largely unknown and oft directly unverified service ‘partners’ who’s will to earn well, is in place but to deliver service with quality if often not in sync with the company they are connected with, is a social-economic experiment not successful yet.
Their time may come. But it hasn’t yet. And the result is a could-have-been-productive-day wasted in mails and calls to and fro and apologies ringing through the day from a company left red-faced with shame over pathetic unprofessionalism.
They need to check with themsleves again if their model needs a reworking. A rethink, maybe. A re-positioning, maybe. And they need to do it fast. For the lack of everything today: checks, proactiveness, work-ethics & attitude made me jump of their bandwagon. Forever.
Others may be waiting to do just that too.