Quality of Service

Selling is an opportunity to build a relationship

Dr. Usha Vasthare and I visited Featherlite showroom to buy a computer table for use at home. We chose a piece which was out of stock and would take about 5 weeks to supply. We looked around for other choices. The sales person showed us a narrower piece behind a cupboard. We had no option to sit in front of the table and feel the ergonomics. However, the sales person recommended it explaining the good points like limited space it would occupy, some storage space, immediate delivery, etc.

We proceeded to the counter to make payment for the table and a chair we had selected. As the bill was being prepared, Shiny, a person from the store, whom I knew for five years came around. Seeing the model we had chosen, she stopped the billing and told us that the table was good enough for keeping a server or a printer that would not require long hours of manual operation. The table had no leg space and would be very inconvenient for our purpose. She suggested that as we did not like any other model in the store we could either wait till the right model came in about 5 weeks or try some other stores. After such genuine concern for customer, we had no reason to go to other stores; it was acceptable to wait.

Shiny did more than selling – she strengthened a relationship.

A vegetable-and-fruits shop owner in my locality advices me not to buy certain items. Some good restaurants advice me against ordering excess food and avoid wastage. They also warn about certain spicy food. I am grateful for such advices.

When transaction occurs in trusted relationship, selling gets elevated to a nobler level.

Printers Devil

For the workshops on Art of Healthy Living, Yogakshema Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre wanted to print about 20 posters from presentation slides. We gave the slides to a desk top publisher, whom we have been giving some work regularly. An elderly person took up the job for us and even showed a sample print. We did approve the print without paying attention.

When all the posters were printed, we saw that the alphabets were jagged. The printer had taken images from the slides and expanded, rather than entering the text in the posters. The alphabets that looked good on slides looked bad on posters. The printer argued that we had approved the posters and if only we had asked him to re-enter the text to get a better quality, he would have done so. The quality of his work output was only the concern of his customers – not his. Professional pride? What does that mean?

In another instance, I needed to print a simple invitation with about 100 words. No fancy stationery and no fancy fonts. I gave complete layout with the fonts I wanted. The document I gave the printer was in MS Word, which the printer had to re-enter using Photoshop. There were numerous errors in the process of copying the text and I had to make five visits to the printer before I could get a print-ready proof. When I corrected a few errors and asked the printer to finalise the copy, he would introduce a few new errors. He gave me the copy in fonts other than what I wanted and insisted that his professional knowledge suggested him to use those fonts. When I requested to see how the copy would look using the font I suggested he argued against it for long. At the end, he told me that he did not have the font though it is simple to download the fonts. I gave him the fonts and got the prints the way I wanted.

Though the business card of the press has an email ID inserted, they do not read mails. They declare so, too. I had to personally visit the press every time for small corrections.

I told the owner that the simple task took more than twice the time he had planned and the avoidable rework had made his press inefficient. He had a series of defensive arguments justifying his position and blaming his workers and the market situation. I told him that even simple task like pasting a sheet was done in some and not done in others. His response was “that is not possible!” When I told him that I did not lie, he asked me to get all such cards to him so that he could get them pasted. It was simpler for me to do that myself than inspect all the cards, pick out the ones not pasted and follow with a few trips to the printer to get them pasted. Well, he had offered a solution at my cost and inconvenience.

Response to my feedback was

–  Defensive argument, denial of the defects or advice to accept the way it is done. I was being too picky in his view.

–  Annoyance and irritation.

–  Excuses and problems of the press – not getting DTP operators, how difficult it is to run a press, and how irresponsible the customers were by not checking the proof thoroughly and later blaming the press for errors.

The customer is responsible to ensure quality of the output, though the press won’t correct the indicated errors and would introduce new errors instead.

At the entrance of the press we are greeted with a poster that reads

Work is worship; Customer is our God.


About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
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2 Responses to Quality of Service

  1. pgbhat says:

    From: P V Maiya [mailto:pvmaiya@gmail.com]

    Patch work/ repairing is costlier than doing the job well right at the beginning. Pride is missing with lot of us, Indians. We do not own our responsibility. Listen to Airlines explaining delay: it is almost always incoming flight landed late as if the outgoing passenger is responsible. Why not simply say, we are sorry the flight is delayed?


  2. kartik Hosanagar says:

    Excellent post uncle. I don’t know the origin of this behavior or how it got so ingrained in the Indian work ethic. Very few take pride in the work they do or go the extra mile to deliver work of the highest quality. And if you are someone who demands quality, it’s hard getting it from the vendors and suppliers one interacts with.



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