Customer Service: The Cultural & Geographical Differences b/w India & Western World


This post isn’t meant to criticize our culture or our organizations. Neither is it meant to be a rant which is the outcome of frustration while dealing with a service provider! It is a reflection of an observation which explains the behavioral patterns of organizations in India when coordinating with their customers!

Perhaps this isn’t for the first time that we’re talking about the soft issue of “Customer Service”. The bottom line is that bulk of Indian companies continue to struggle on the sticky support wicket despite a tremendous opportunity due to the growth of Social Media channels.

Our recent experience with a leading provider of web-hosting is a classic case-study of the wide gap that still exists b/w India & parts of the Western World when compared on the “Customer Support” front.

In my opinion, our key learning from this experience is the existence of mind-set difference. While we consider consider customer support just like any other job and a department in the organization, for companies in States it is something that ties in with overall experience.

Our organization had recently switched over to a VPS hosting package with the idea of improving response time of hosted apps & web-pages as well as cutting down typical problems which arise with shared hosting packages! The underlying goal was to serve our customers better than ever before. During the selection process, we did our bit by researching for preferred vendors in this space across India & United States.

While the services being provided by all vendors were quite similar, we were particularly looking at someone who was strong with Services Support & was carrying a trusted name in the industry. The other problem was limited options that we had in India. Being customers of companies like BigRock and ZNet India we have had mixed experiences with them and weren’t quite keen to experiment with an unknown hosting company as it would have put the reputation of our customers’ at stake.

It was then that we learnt about a popular American hosting company that had recently started its operations in India. Since we were well aware of their unit which is among the most popular companies up in the U.S. we thought it might be a safe bet to go with their Indian arm. We freezed the option, went ahead with our order and the next step was migration of our current online assests to the new server.

That’s where it all began:

  1. To begin with, we faced severe migration problems and our company website www.iffort.com was down for ’2′ days being in no man’s land.
  2. We faced long delays with email delivery and major down-time resulting in switch to our personal emails for the interim period.
  3. Lastly, a couple of our customer portals went down.

Amidst all these, we were using all possible means to connect with their India team to understand the crux of the problem. Be it Online Chat, Email, Twitter, Facebook or Phone, we used all of them. Honestly, we had strong doubts whether the team actually understood our problem.

Perhaps they were new, perhaps they were taking time to setup in an structured manner but whatever the reason was, we knew that our organization was suffering due to all this. After constant cross-talk, Sunny did manage to hook-up with the team’s India Director. Alas we had to threaten them of dire consequences and send numerous emails. Finally, we received a reply from their India director that he was in-charge of key issues and was himself traveling out of India.

But I think one of our emails served as a trigger in their mind and what followed then was a rescue operation led by their India Director & everything was restored to normal overnight.

What caused this action?

Like I mentioned, it was one of those emails. That one email where we had marked the group’s global CEO who was based out of United States.

So finally the problem was solved, things were restored but that didn’t stop us from exploring our options because all the love had already been lost. Damage had been in the form of what we’d experienced over the course of “2″ weeks.

All in all we had lost faith to do business with the company! We wanted to switch to a different provider and deal with a new set people all-together. After a lot of introspection, we moved to a new company!

But here was the catch: We were will sticking with the same brand & were just moving over to their team in United States which was legally a different company! It was ironical that our experience with their US team was absolutely contrasting and diametrically opposite to the local team.

Here is what the group’s CEO had to say in an email:

I agree, they’re very new and with it being staffed just by Indian support there is going to be a learning curve. Eventually we’ll need to figure out a better system so that US support has access and can help when they are messing up. I’m very sorry for this.

What’s your take on this? Do you think India still has a long way to go when it comes to actually understanding the whole meaning and implications of Customer Service! What is your experience like!

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4 Comments

Filed under Customer, customer service, Web 2.0

4 responses to “Customer Service: The Cultural & Geographical Differences b/w India & Western World

  1. At SukritInfotech, we make sure that your objectives of web presence are completely addressed through our full-cycle services.

  2. Many thanks for the important information on this article, and i look forward to returning to understand even more.

  3. Good post; I think that customer service really just depends on the company and their missions.

  4. Having lived in USA as well as in India, I can say without doubt: customer service is the same in both the places. For eg: compare AT&T with Airtel. Very similar customer service. Small issues will be solved quickly. A new issue will take days or weeks. Anything that is not there in the customer support handbook will be a pain to get resolved. Unless you threaten to cancel and move to a competitor.

    Funny thing is: I’ve had Americans tell me how Indian hospitality is so much more better. And Indians tell me how Americans are so much more better at service.

    Both are about the same.

    What is more likely the case is that this hosting company you’ve had an experience with – they have not setup proper systems in India yet. Its a systems problem. Or a hiring problem. That’s what they need to solve.

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