Customer Service in New Zealand

 

coffeeWe had the wonderful opportunity to visit Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua New Zealand over two days. Aside from the occasional palm tree and the thermal geysers and bubbling mud-ponds, New Zealand shares a lot in common with Canada. Clean, lots of open space, beautiful and four seasons. The similarity ends, however, when one begins to look at the service level in New Zealand.
I wouldn’t say it was ‘poor’, per se, but there was a consistent lack of warmth wherever we visited. I was really hoping to take a picture of one of the signs in a store that I though summed it up nicely, but was afraid I might be breaking a rule. Not sure I can remember it verbatim, but it went something like this:

If you buy something and change your mind, we don’t have to give you a refund.
If the product is defective, we will comply with the law governing refund of products, but no more.
So make sure when you buy anything that it is actually something that you want.

The sign had some official-looking government logo on the bottom.
Wow. I think we’re missing the ‘have a nice day’ part… or something. I suspect, though, that many New Zealanders may not intuitively see what it is about this message that needs to be improved. The concept of making customers comfortable, or being proactive to let customers know you care about them wasn’t readily apparent in the people we met. Others whom we spoke with felt the same thing. The two dozen or so New Zealanders I met reminded me a lot of Canadian Newfoundlanders – very nice, salt-of-the-earth type people, but not hesitant to speak their minds, no matter what others might think. Basically, they will be nice to customers if the customers are nice to them, but beyond that, I sensed no obligation beyond basic civility.
The absence of warmth I feltwas somewhat compounded by whatappeared to bea very thin veneer of tolerance for Chinese and some other minorities (including the indigenous Māori). To be honest, I was a little surprised by the whole two days… Customer service is all about putting the needs of customers first, whenever possible. I didn’t see a lot of that here.

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