Wake Up, Philippines!

‘Maling akala’ makes customers unhappy

Posted in Consumer by Erineus on February 11, 2009

I REMEMBER a copy boy in a former job who kept saying “maling akala” can get you killed. Indeed, assumptions and presumptions should be made with great care or they can cause a lot of trouble, if not exactly kill you.

Officials of my barangay in Manila realized the truth of this, much to their grief, over the weekend when our water service was interrupted starting Friday evening. The disruption caught most of the residents by surprise. Those who read newspapers regularly did not see any announcement about it.

The barangay council reportedly posted a notice at the barangay hall that our neighborhood would have no water until 12 noon Sunday. Considering that the hall is on an alley used by only about a fourth of the residents and was not in most people’s daily route, the notice was almost useless. A neighbor said the officials did not go out of their way to inform the rest of the barangay residents because they “assumed” people would have learned about the water service interruption on television.

As it turned out, most of the affected households did not see the TV announcement and were completely unprepared for the lack of water, which extended until Monday morning.

I’m sure those officials are now thinking of ways to make amends for the major booboo if they do not want the residents to pay them back come election time.

Information source

Leading food chain Jollibee also got a lesson recently about assumptions and presumptions.

Arnel de Leon went to a Jollibee branch for merienda and asked about the Jollitown Musical Show that his son wanted to see. The service crew member said a P150 food purchase entitled a parent/guardian to one ticket that would allow him/her to bring a child to the show. De Leon said he made sure he understood correctly that he and his son only needed one ticket and he did not have to make another purchase worth P150 to get a second ticket.

But when they tried to use his one ticket to the show, they were told only one of them could go in. For them to watch the show together, he had to walk some 300 meters to a booth to get another ticket by buying Jollibee products. When he told the people at the gate about the information provided him at the Jollibee store, he was informed he needed only one ticket if the child was a toddler still in a carrier, and not a 5-year-and-a-half boy like his.

De Leon said he found several parents making the same complaint at the booth. They apparently got the same information he did. De Leon said he had to buy the additional ticket since they were there already.

Arline Adeva, public relations manager of Jollibee Foods Corp., apologized to De Leon after getting his e-mail and checking with the branch in question. “We humbly acknowledge that the confusion was brought about by the wrong information given by one of our crew on the promo mechanics,” she said.

Adeva mentioned they spent a lot of time, effort and resources to convey the right message to their customers. “As we have clearly stated in all our print ads, collaterals and print announcements, every purchase of a Jollibee Kids Club Christmas meal worth P150 entitles the JKC member to one ticket to the show (which is good for one person). For more tickets (intended for parents or guardians), additional JKC Christmas meals must be purchased,” she said.

Hopefully, Jollibee has learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Other establishments can learn from it, too. They usually assume and presume that because they have invested on media placements and points of sale promotional materials, their customers are fully informed about whatever it is they want them to know. But, as the Jollibee case shows, all the effort may be undone by a service crew member who gives the wrong information.

For one thing, not everybody has access to the information sources they use. There will always be those who fall through the cracks. But more importantly, despite the many information sources available to people, they still consider a real person, who talks to them face to face, the most credible.

As I said, assumptions and presumptions have to be made with great care. Just because an establishment has provided the information through all media available does not mean its target audience is getting the story and getting it right. A clueless staff member, as the Jollibee experience showed, could leave a customer or several customers extremely unhappy.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido@inquirer.com.ph.

By Linda Bolido
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:09:00 02/10/2009

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