Thursday, April 14, 2011

Customer Service FSU-style

The former Soviet Union was legendary for poor customer service.  You needed them; they didn't need you.  Restaurants closed for lunch, I have heard.  Better restaurants in hotels etc had an Amazon guarding the door and when she decided the place had enough customers, she locked the door.  I experienced that my self in 1991 in Almaty (then Alma Ata) Kazakhstan.  In Moscow according to journalists whose accounts I have read, you couldn't get into some restaurants without a reservation and you couldn't get a reservation unless you could get inside.

That is slowly changing here in Ukraine. Private industry is realizing they need the customer not the other way round and that poor service can actually chase them away to competitors, where they exist and where people have means to go to them.  The large western style stores and supermarkets provide pretty much western style service, which is to say some good, some bad, some indifferent, depending on the person or the day. I've commented before about the high quality of service in McDonald's restaurants here.  They are like I remember Canadian McDonald's from 30 years ago. 

But the old ways linger on.  The other day Tanya and I went to buy light bulbs at a new hardware and construction store "Square Meter".  It took us an hour.  Everything they sold had samples nailed, screwed, glued or cabled down.  You get a clerk to help you pick out what you need, go to the counter and pay for it, then take the slip to a back wall window where other people take the slip and fill the order.  We had a store like that in Regina 30 years ago, called Consumer Distributing.  I hated it.  We needed six 11 watt fluorescent bulbs with small bases, six 60 watt spotlight bulbs, small bases.  I had cut the sides from the boxes so there would be no mistakes.  Right. We got the fluorescent bulbs but finally gave up and went to another store for the spotlights.

Today we went to pick up three replacement flower bulbs.  In the big order Tanya got a week or so ago, three of the bulbs (roots, tubers??) were bad.  Tanya phoned the company, based in western Ukraine and they threw three replacements in the courier immediately.  Good service for a good customer! The courier "Nova Poshta" or New Post is located across the street from Devyatka (# 9) Mall and in behind another building. There is even a sign that shows you where they are located.  Except they moved since we were there last.  There was a sign on the door with their new address and a phone number.

The new address doesn't help much as there are no (very few) street signs in Zhovti Vody anyhow.  Tanya tries the phone number.  It is wrong.  There were other people there also to pick up packages. they had been there yesterday and there wasn't even a sign on the door then. A lady from the company shows up and takes the sign down.  Tanya has a discussion with her.  She gets the right number, calls the new location and finds out where it is.  But they are closed for the rest of the day.  It is 3:00 pm.

1 comment:

  1. Well now we at least know what happened to one branch of the Schidt family. Don Giva must be doing well in the Ukraine.


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