I was quite desperate. My stock of sticker bindis was running out and I couldn’t replenish it. It may appear ridiculous, but sometimes in the scheme of life, even issues of lesser significance assume importance. This was one such case. I wanted only this brand, had tried every shop — big and small — but had drawn a blank. It was only a matter of `140, 20 flaps in a box. How can I get them? I turned over the almost-empty packet and looked at it closely. There was a customer care number printed on one side.
Now customer care was a term I had got indoctrinated in from my MNC days. We had a set of quality standards prescribed and the most important was that a customer should not be kept waiting at a service point for more than 3 minutes and any query should be answered within five working days. There were even specific instructions on how one should be polite, sweet and firm all at the same time and how even negative things had to be couched in sweet words and expressions. The customer is the most important visitor on our premises, they would quote the Father of the Nation for more effect. My own experience with others had been anything but ideal. A branded, expensive, ornamental fan I had purchased was impressive to look at but its performance was not. When the issue was taken up with the firm, it was quite sweet with me and sympathetic at my plight. But it didn’t get me an exchange. I am still stuck with the beauty and had to shell out extra on a wall-mounted one from the same company. When my brand new 3-in-one broke down, I had to finally threaten them with consumer laws before I could get a replacement. Can I expect anything better from a bindi company when even MNCs have let me down?
I decided to try my luck. A woman answered and directed me to a section. I was given another number, probably that of their regional dealer, somewhere in Tamil Nadu. The gruff male voice at the other end did not offer any sweet “May I help you?” He asked for the details. “OK. Gopi bindi. Maroon. Size G1. Right?” “Yes”. “Now it’s almost 4. You will get it by 10.30 tomorrow morning. Can you give me your address?” No “please”, either. Within 10 minutes I received another call. It was from his local representative to confirm my requirements and the exact location of my house. Next day at 10 am, I was holding a packet load of my favourite bindis, with wonder and gratitude. “How much should I pay you?” “No, ma’am. It’s on the house. Complimentary. Should you require more, please approach Greens. The shop is quite nearby. I am leaving some with them.” He smiled.
For customers, MNCs don’t matter. Attitude does. Justly so.