Wednesday, April 5, 2006

More differences between SL and the UK

Mahamoor has made a great post about job differences between our 2 countries. I have noticed some differences in attitude that I would like to add.

I think many of the major differences are caused by the relative labour costs. Even taking cost of living into account manual labour is far more expensive here in the UK than in Sri Lanka.

Many people who live in the UK (including myself) will be continually amazed by the sheer number of staff in SL's shops and restaurants per customer or transaction.

In Sri Lanka I have often been served by a security guard, who will take my bag as I enter the shop, another person who will take my goods out of the basket at the checkout, another one who will take my money and then yet another who will check my receipt and give the goods to me.

Here in London we are accustomed to having to search for anyone to help us in many shops. When we finally find a shop assistant they invariably treat us as if we are a unwelcome interruption to a conversation with their friend about what they are going to do at the weekend.

The attitude displayed by retail staff both in the UK and in Sri Lanka continually surprises and disappoints me. It is as if they are blissfully unaware of the small fact that it is us, the customer, who pays their wages.

I do find that Sri Lankan shop assistants and also shopkeepers, the ones who tend to run their own shop, can appear aggressive to a Westerner, but they are usually just trying to persuade you to buy something. Here we are more keen on browsing without being hassled, but then having help at hand when required.

Restaurant service in SL is much better than in the UK. Then again, my experience in SL is probably more limited to the higher end restaurants where better service would be expected.

I have come across excellent service in shops and restaurants in both countries but, across the board, it could be so much better. I just wish the staff would remember that the customer should always be number 1!

If you are reading this please, please add a comment or 2, I am very interested in finding out other people's views on Sri Lankan compared to British customer service and also on the perfect type of customer service.


Janin said...

In Sri Lanka there are too many staffs doing superfluous tasks for the customer, it robs the customer of any independence. I feel that there is non focus to our customer service often the sales staff doesn’t know when to step back and let the customer deciede. Also, the sheer number of staff in the stores can be very intimidating.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Yes, but here in the UK it often goes to the other end of the scale, where we can't get any service because the staff are "too busy".

sittingnut said...

you are right, difference in relative cost of labor would probably explain this.

as for quality of customer service i think we should not make country wide generalized judgments.

however as janin says, in sri lanka we have to make do with less personal space and privacy.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

sittingnut - I take your point about not making country wide generalized comments. However, I feel my comments about UK customer service are accurate. Part of the reason IMHO is that the British (and I include myself here) are not very good at complaining. Therefore we accept poor service more readily than others would. Of course it is only my opinion but that is why I would welcome other people's comments. Thanks for reading.

childof25 said...

I have this theory that in SL they just hire a bunch of people and throw them into a shop without any training in the hope they will get the customer’s needs serviced. If they took the time and money to actually train their employees then maybe they could do with fewer people who would actually be able to attend to the customers needs in a meaningful manner. The store could also pay more to these trained employees (instead of the minimum wage they pay the expendable stooges) hence these employees will have more expendable cash. They can then spend more, save more and contribute to the economy helping create more jobs. Voila! Customer’s needs and the economy both sorted out!