Monday, January 16, 2012

Angry Ammanis

Excuse my under-average photo editing skills please. 

I have had this urge to blog again for a few days. The problem is, I really can’t think of anything to say, maybe I’ve raised my expectation bar too high and now everything I write doesn’t sound as good to me.

Maybe it’s the daily routine that repeats itself from morning till 5 pm every day: waking up, breakfast, work, and since it’s January, rapid cooling of my 37°C blood to freezing point where I lose all feeling in my extremities until I bump my knee against the car door. Then come the traffic lights, oh God the traffic lights gathering angry-woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed Ammanis, drivers that are insulted by the fact that there are cars ahead of them, I mean can you believe how outrageous it is not to be the first in line? Wait, that’s not right, the first in line at the traffic light is actually the even angrier driver that couldn’t go through while it was still green because of the stupid scumbag that was in front of him.

Yes, angry Ammanis, they arrive to work at 08:15:10 and curse whoever set the rules to allow them to be 15 minutes late instead of 20, but never mind that, that was not my original point.

After settling in my office and drinking my please-make-my-blood-liquid-again cup of tea (yes tea, not coffee, don’t hate), I check my email and social networking accounts for the daily dose of, for lack of a better word, socializing.

Facebook for family and real life friends while Twitter for, as some say, people you wish were your real life friends. What I [used to] like about Twitter was the educated, civilized, well-mannered people that once upon a time gave me hope when my Facebook homepage consisted of quizzes and daily horoscopes. I would actually log on to Twitter to learn stuff, open a whole bunch of links in new tabs,  perform whatever tasks I had for work and then read all those open tabs (who also give birth to new tabs) until my brain is happy and active, I even had a ‘to read later’ folder.

But that’s all gone now.

The Jordanian Twittersphere post Arab spring is 99% different than what it was before. Avatars of faces, shoes, cartoon characters and football club logos have turned into flags, slogans, all-black spaces, pictures of detained activists or any other sign dissatisfaction with anything and everything.

I can even predict my entire timeline for a day before checking it:

@Person1 tweets a link from a news site with a comment on how the government is not doing what people want it to do.

@Person22 (not a typo) jumps to object defending the government like it’s being attacked by bombs not words, tags 3 or 4 people s/he knows will instantly join to defend, they jump in, people from @Person1’s side also jump in with sarcastic remarks (which is the only part I still enjoy), 22 takes things oh-so-seriously that you feel they might have broken their keyboard typing the tweet, things get ugly until someone who’s on good terms with both parties calms them down.

Until the personal attacks start, that is. Because you see, a person who criticizes the government (or any governmental entity actually) must really hate Jordan and Jordanians, why? Because if you love Jordan then you have to even love the corrupt parts about it. Because if you like apples, then you must like rotten apples as well, right?

Of course what would normally follow are lectures about loyalty, how to love Jordan, what really needs reform (they all agree that it’s Jordanians that need reform, other Jordanians mind you, never themselves.)

And there goes any inspiration to write anything, I just sit there frustrated, reply to every tweet that is not about reform or politics (except for the foursquare check-ins, I think we’ve established a long time ago that no one cares if you’re standing on the sidewalk) then close Twitter in an attempt to forget how divided we are, only to be reminded again on my drive home from work by angry had-a-bad-day-at-work Ammanis that are either too exhausted to even honk when the light turns yellow (shocker!) or too irritated that they’ll tailgate the crap out of you for not allowing them to merge.

It feels good to be back.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

10 Things to Tell Your Salespeople.

I wonder if we’re ever going to stop writing and talking about horrible customer service experiences here in Jordan, I haven’t been feeling like blogging lately but each time I go out shopping for something, anything, I get this urge to (not exactly blog, more like blow up malls all at once).

Please, if you’re the owner of a store or any business that requires direct contact with customers, please tell your salespeople and customer service employees (actually everyone) the following:

1. The customer is not your enemy, they’re here to buy and they’re the reason this business is alive so you treat them like your source of living depends on them. (It does).

2.  If the customer is on a budget, they’re on a budget. If they tell you how much they’re willing to pay for a certain thing, do not try to convince them to pay more and get something fancier, and you most certainly do not make them feel like the cheaper object is not good. Just tell them the features of both, be objective and let them decide, their money is none of your business.

3. The theft alarm can go off for reasons other than theft. If it does, apologize, sincerely. You don’t take a customer’s bag/handbag/purse and go through their stuff, make the customer feel like a thief and then act like nothing happened. This is not okay. 

4. Don’t follow customers’ every step inside the shop! It’s annoying, it makes the customer feel like they’re being followed because you suspect they’ll take something and not pay for it. And don’t just walk away and have the customer search for help either. 

5. If you look like you don’t feel like helping, the customer will not feel like buying, yes, this is how businesses fail in Jordan. 

6.When it comes to feminine stuff in general (undergarments in particular), a female will feel more at ease asking for help from a salesgirl than a salesman, don’t put them in an awkward position.

7. Female fitting rooms are for females and male fitting rooms are for males, if you’re not letting other guys inside the female rooms, why would you think it’s okay for you to go in?

8. Don’t “what’s your size” a customer when they haven’t asked you to get them their size, sometimes customers just want to look at things on display. 

9. And speaking of size, maintain a poker face after hearing a customer’s size. if she’s a size 20 and asks you for a size 10, it is none of your business. 

10. Don’t offer help if you can’t give it, especially when it comes to electronics, the customer has most likely done their homework and you’ll look like an idiot.

Shoppers, anything else? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reform What: Businesses; Production & Services.

Charles Montgomery Burns

I don’t know if this happens with you guys, but when I think of evil businesses, telecom companies are the first to come to my mind, it could be the numerous complain-about-your-ISP tweets that I read every day, maybe because I spend a lot of time on the internet (and the phone). It could also be THAT THEY WON’T STOP REMINDING ME OF THEIR UNFORTUNATE EXISTENCE IN MY LIFE, yes, spam SMS! No, I do not want to subscribe to your SMS channels, I do not want to visit your cafĂ©, I don’t want you to tghanili, nor do I want to asamm3ak, I’ll watch the discovery channel on TV thank you very much and I most certainly do not care about my horoscopes, I know; Monday will be dull and boring, how about you do what you promise, and stop ripping me off (two totally unconnected things).

Ok, forget telecom, let’s discuss quality of products and services here, I’m pretty sure people will jump and defend businesses by saying that Jordan is not an industrial country, and that we’re not developed. When you get the chance, take a look at products that were made in Jordan and exported to Europe or the US, quite impressive and at the same time frustrating, to realize that your country is in fact capable of producing high quality products and crops (from apparel to fruit and vegetables) but that ‘they’ don’t think the Jordanian market is good enough for such products.

Moving on to after sale, how many positive experiences have you had with customer service in any company? One? Two? Out of how many? And why are there even any bad experiences? Ever tried to fix an appliance that still had its warranty valid? To return something that still had the tag on? Has your internet service provider ever fixed your problem after your first call? In fact, have they ever done anything over the phone except telling you to visit their shops and that this call is recorded for quality assurance purposes? How many times have you decided not to return something faulty just so you do not go through the experience with a grumpy employee?

This is nothing. What about if the service was medical care? With the degradation of ethics that reached even the profession where ethics are most needed, hospitals and even clinics are nothing but businesses now, with money as the ultimate target; you’re sick? Here’s a bunch of expensive unnecessary tests that your insurance should pay for because they’re jerks. What? You don’t have insurance? Here’s a trial-and-error prescription, try that and if you die, come see me, but please make an appointment. The Hippocratic Oath now means nothing to a lot of doctors and malpractice is yet another issue that needs a dedicated post.

I can go on and on about this. Bottom line: business is yet another sector that is in a dire need of reform.