Know your customer, learning from India

The client experience is key to loyalty; Airlines and retailers in India have some old lessons to offer American counterparts

Know your customer, learning from India

As someone who travels back and forth between California and India, I feel like I go through a time warp on many dimensions each time, I emerge on the ground in either country. The direction of the warp used to favor the United States when I first arrived as a young graduate student.  It’s not always the case anymore

Service offered on domestic airlines is one example where all customers in US are treated (even in first or business class) are treated more shabbily than their counterparts in India. While Indian airports still leave a lot to be desired, the worst service offered in India’s private sector airlines probably exceeds the best you might receive here in the US.  This is after you’ve been nickeled and dimed about fees for baggage, preferred seating, food and then some. I don’t know about you, but I will gladly pay a bit more to get a smiling, courteous staff member. To be fair, I do see a few hardworking, polite people on Alaska Airlines and on Southwest.  If you travel to India, try Jet Airways or Kingfisher when you travel in country; you won’t see a surly scowl that is now standard on United, Delta, and American.

Another sector where you will see the difference is in retail. I had heard about Toyota’s USA’s legendary efforts to support its dealers and require them to provide good service.  When I bought a Toyota  Lexus 4xx series car for my wife, she was thrilled with the car. But I was certainly disappointed with the dealer staff. They did not reveal the way they accounted for payments from my credit union, they charged me for extended warranty but did not file the paperwork with the manufacturer. In each case I had to fight for my rights to get refunds of inappropriate interest charges, and “unusable warranty” fees.  Contrast that with the  way a small retailer of bangles in India treats their customer. Read the story on American Express open network site about personalization, about making the customer feel welcome and about meeting their specific needs, visit .


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