Bangalore is a place where anything can happen and often does. But is it what you wanted to happen? The Vine tackles customer service. Or lack thereof.
TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY
In a country where McDonald’s can be classified as slow food, your western notions of time are just too worldly. Here in Bangalore, time is an abstract concept, a notion, a feeling, particularly to service providers who are the most spiritual in this aspect. Here are some translations:
I’m at your apartment = I’m just leaving now. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m actually still in bed.
Yes, yes, it will be ready tomorrow madam = I’m going out of town for my wife’s brother’s cousin’s wedding, so maybe three weeks? Call me every day and I’ll make it two.
This is little complicated, ma’am = The year is 2152. There is world peace, the stars have aligned. And your order is ready.
JUST SAY NO. OR DON’T
Bangaloreans are friendly, open and tolerant. And embedded in the culture is a reluctance to say no for fear of being impolite. Of course, you may wonder if it’s any more polite to lie to your face or send you something you don’t need four days late, but this is the culture you’re operating in.
Ever ordered an Ola, then had a friendly chat with the driver about where you’re going, only to have him cancel on you seconds later? Technology has made it easier for him to avoid saying no and still manage to skip the trip to VR Mall.
THE VINE TIP: Never answer phone calls from Ola drivers
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER INDIA OF INVENTION
The can-do attitude of Bangaloreans is a breath of fresh air coming from Europe. There’s none of the ‘computer says no’ attitude here (that would be an impolite computer, see above); there will be creative ways to solve your problem. Think that table is too tall? Let’s just chop off the legs! Ask a shop owner for pasta and he doesn’t have any? No problem! Have this rice instead – it’s all the same, isn’t it? The only way to deal with this is to get creative or get mad, depending on the seriousness of the situation.
THE VINE TIP, based on experience: Never let the service manager check for gas leaks with a lighter
Sometimes it can feel like there are a million languages in India – and English ain’t one of them. To most Anglo Saxons, the fact that Bangalorean speak Kannada, Hindi and often Telugu, Urdu, and/or Tamil is a wonder. But it can sometimes be difficult to communicate in English and the opportunities for amusing customer service stories is endless, such as being given Fevicol instead of baby corn for your stir-fry or cosmetic nails to hang up your pictures. Make sure you get one of these stories to take home – no stay in India is complete without one!
SO MANY SERVERS, SO LITTLE… SERVICE?
An interesting phenomenon in India: there are often more people to serve you than there is space for customers. This doesn’t mean you’ll get service. There is a pecking order that is unbeknownst to us outside the culture and to actually get to speak to a customer is reserved for only the owner. So: feel special, they’ve reserved the best person for you. On second thoughts, after your encounters with Indian customer service as above: feel suicidal. They’ve reserved the best person for you.