I attended a media conference in Japan as a journalist. Since I had some free time before the event, I went to the Akihabara shopping district, colloquially known as the “electronics and gadgets town”.

When I found a store, I went in and checked out MP3 portable players. I found one that suited my taste, and asked the salesman for assistance. However, he did not speak any English, and motioned me to wait a while, while he called up his colleague from a few streets away, and I waited. The younger, English-speaking salesman appeared after a while. I wanted to test the product, and both men patiently and gladly agreed. They said that they needed to install some songs into it and test its functionality, and if I could walk around and come back an hour later. I said all right.

When I returned, the younger salesman told me that they did some testing, and it was incompatible with my technical requirements. I ended up buying nothing, but both men went out of their paths to make sure I did not buy a dud. And yes, both men remained very friendly when I left.

Actions: Find the right people to face customers

Training can only yield so much, and it depends on the integrity, passion, knowledge and personality of your front liners to ensure a smooth service delivery every time.

Have you got the right people to face your precious paying customers? Are you treating your front liners as well as you are treating your managers? Have you checked if your managers are giving hell to your front liners behind your back?

The best quality comes with a price tag, the price tag of a competent and genuinely friendly person. The best products and services can easily be ruined beyond repair with people who aren’t committed and passionate about what they do. Often, many corporations neglect people development in the holistic manner, opting for short-term fixes such as motivational talks and training programs.

These are some writings we did in 2003 (published as “DotZen”, a paperback book that was widely publicized), and we extracted some which are still relevant today, in the areas of branding, marketing, sales, publicity, and business improvement. If we find some time outside that of helping our clients grow and taking a rest, we will try to write some more.

Copyright©2003 Seamus Phan & Ter Hui Peng. All rights reserved.