This morning i stopped at a small shop near by house to pick up some stationery items. As the shopkeeper was getting everything together, he pulled out his electricity bill, and asked me to help him with it.
As his English is pretty weak, he had opted to receive his bill in Hindi. It is fantastic that customers have that option. The bill was clearly laid out, and he knew how much he had to pay.
The problem was that a second bill had been stapled to the back. This one was discussing his security deposit. For some reason a small amount had been deducted from it, so he had to pay an additional Rs.160. Despite knowing that this customer receives their monthly bill in Hindi, this letter had been prepared completely in English.
The shopkeeper couldn’t understand if this was an extra charge, or a credit. Was he supposed to attach one cheque for both the bills, or was it separate?
The work that the company (Reliance) had put into making their bills accessible, was undone by the other letter. As a standard format letter, this could easily have been printed in Hindi to match the customer preferences that they already had on file. Since they would often be sending out this letter with the bill, they could also have included instructions on how to pay – together or separately.
Companies mess this up all the time. They put lots of effort into some new endeavour, such a retraining their call centre, or developing a great new website, but they don’t go the full distance and apply that effort to each other place where they touch their customers.
The main reason for this is that the individual projects are the property of an enterprising manager, who has a great idea for their part of the company. Expanding this to other bits of the company means more work for everyone, and other divisions are bound to resist both change and more work.
Solution? The whole top management needs to be on board, with a clear message of “this is how we are now going to do business”.