Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Consumer rant #2: Mind your language

Beats me, some of the ‘customer friendly’ things companies do.
My bank, for instance, has a language option on its customer care telephone helpline in Kerala. You can choose to speak to the bank’s customer care team in English or Malayalam. A useful option, I’d say.
So I call the bank a few weeks ago and choose the ‘English’ option. I’m connected to a male voice that greets me in Malayalam. Thinking I’ve chosen the wrong option, I ask if it’s the number that connects me to an English speaker. “Yes,” he tells me, and continues to ask how he can help me — all in Malayalam. “Shouldn’t you be speaking to me in English,” I ask and am met with a moment of silence, before he goes on again — in Malayalam — about how he can help me. I give up and continue the conversation in Malayalam.
A few days later I call the bank and go through the same bizarre exercise again. Except this time, it’s a female voice at the other end.
Now I have nothing against Malayalam or any other language. But when you offer the customer the option of speaking to someone in a particular language, shouldn’t you deliver on that, every time?
So why is it that my bank couldn’t get this seemingly simple ‘customer friendly’ measure right? And if it can’t get it right, why doesn’t it scrap it altogether? All possible explanations are welcome.

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