Can you learn to be a good manager while you are the customer?

I thought I should write this post while the incident is still fresh in my mind. And since it took place just this morning, what better time right?

I had invested money in an insurance fund with a bank which I shall not name here. As they had managed to fudge up my instructions and mismanaged my account, I had been forced to file a complaint against the person who was their “agent” and supposedly the person incharge of handling my account.

I will not go into the details of what went wrong because that is quite irrelevant to the context of this post. What I do want to highlight are the incidents that took place in the 4 way call I had between my Relationship Manager of the bank, the Agent and the Regional Manager who took it upon himself to finally intervene and resolve the matter (a bit late in my opinion since I had already got a refund of the money invested by this time).

Well this Regional Manager – let’s call him Mr. A (sounded well spoken and speaking as a girl, well that’s always impressive 😉 ), took the details of my side of the tale in a first call along with  the Relationship Manager –  Mr. B. He then called me again with the Agent in question – Mr. C – who was the villain of my life and had mismanaged my account. And yes, will not bore you will any more details and will jump right to the point.

So these are the things that got me thinking –

1. During the course of the second call, Mr A. asked me some pointed questions directly related to the matter. Good, impressive. He then asked Mr. C to explain his end of the story. While Mr. C of course was busy in cooking up stories in an attempt to save his behind, Mr. A kind of jumped the gun and lost his patience there in my opinion. Because while on the call along with the customer – Me – he told Mr. C to go take a walk.

Well I am the customer, and I should be glad that this guy was taking my side. But I kind of cringed the moment I heard those words. I mean “go take a walk”? Are you really supposed to talk to your juniors in that manner in front of the customer? I mean sure the customer is king and all, but how do I respect you or the organisation you are representing if you don’t respect your junior even if he has made a mistake???

I think while resolving an issue, we all need to maintain a decorum and be completely professional. Mr. A and Mr. C in my eyes were representatives of the same organisation. If one of them turns against the other in a call in front of the customer, I wonder how tightly knit that organisation is …

2. The second issue – this time Mr. C is at fault. While I had been trying to contact him all along and asking him why my ECS is not taking place, he kept on telling me that the problem is at the operational end and he is not at fault.

I cringe again. Mr. C – you were the guy who sold the policy to me. I as a customer could not care less how your organisation is structured internally and who takes care of what and where slip-ups are happening. As far as I am concerned, you are my one point of contact and it is your goddamn responsibility to make sure that my account is managed well, even if you have to talk to the janitor to do so.

3. Mr. A while ending the call asked me for my suggestion of what they should do about Mr. C. He said he has already lodged a complaint against him and would like to take the strictest action (we all know what that means) but he would still like to consider my opinion. My answer at that time was simple – I have already got my money back, I am never dealing with your bank again – its been too complicated all along, I couldn’t care less how you handle this matter internally. I as a person would not like to put anyone’s job in jeopardy, especially since the matter has been resolved. But on a second thought, I really cannot help but wonder why I was asked this question at all!

These were the incidents that stood out for me. And got me thinking – If I was in the manager’s shoe, would I behave in the same manner? Or should I learn from his mistakes to be a better manager myself. Now I don’t have an MBA or any formal qualification to certify me as a manager, so opinions, suggestions and corrections are welcome from any of you to these points –

A) I will always speak to my colleagues with respect, especially in front of the customer. And that cannot be faked. So yes, I have to respect the people I am working with. And I have to represent my organisation as a cohesive unit in front of the customer.

B) I have to make the experience of working with my organisation as smooth and seamless as possible for the client. I am the expert in the field as far as the client is concerned and the clients are coming to me for solutions and  not to complicate their lives further. So it has to be my responsibility, that even though, I have to interface with ten departments (possibly) in the back-end, I should appear to be the person in-charge and fully in control of the situation in front of the client.

C) Very importantly, learn to be forgiving and not get caught up in the heat of the moment. You have to forgive and allow people to learn from their mistakes. Show them where they went wrong and tell them what not to do in the future instead of just asking them to “go take a walk”.

I hope I am able to put these points in practice. I could be completely wrong in these inferences though. Would be helpful you think otherwise and could offer your opinion in that case :-).


6 thoughts on “Can you learn to be a good manager while you are the customer?

  1. Shashi says:

    This Mr. A seems to be bitten by the hero bug. This kind of behaviour is purported to serve twin goals – a) stamp his authority on the hapless junior b) show the customer there is someone to care for her. Well, with a non-reflective customer this might have actually worked well. I know a couple of otherwise decent guys who do this because thats what longstanding customers demand. Moments after the customer walks out the junior is called into the office and his hurt feelings are assuaged over chai. Normal practice!

  2. Appreciate the way you looked at the things as earlier comment says, most of the people do not notice this and feel happy about the who created problem has been taken for task.
    First two points are very well concluded. The another point I see here is that people now a days work for themselves, not for the organization and the sense of belongingness to the organization is very low. So, the feeling of every person representing the same organization is not there.

    Overall very nice post and the flow keeps the interest of the reader to read till end.

    • sunainak says:

      Thank you Juneesh. I guess one tries to learn from every experience life sends your way. And I guess I have been very lucky so far with the organisation that I work for. The sense of belonging comes naturally. I guess I just very naively expect everyone to be the same 🙂

  3. Good Q. Whilst technically right, there are a lot of factors which may have forced Mr. A to act in a particular manner. You will find this pretty common in the service industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s