Ask. Do not assume for your customers

It was a restful evening.  My wife, little boy and I, while waiting for our girl, decided to drop by at D***** for a hot tea.

I approached the counter lady, and asked specifically for two hot tea ‘black’ – meaning tea without sugar, in our Singapore context.  Well, the order came and it wasn’t quite right.  The lady actually fixed me a coffee black… Nevertheless, I reiterated I wanted two hot tea ‘black’.  “Okay’ was the mere response…. as a guy took over to fix the tea.

Then came the next crunch… the bill was presented to me, and it was $3.30 per cup, not 3.10 as I expected.  What happened was this – on display were two types of tea – either the hot tea (at 3.10 per cup) and the flavoured tea (at 3.30 per cup).  All I asked were two hot tea to be served ‘black’.  I did not specify which tea I wanted.  What the guy did was simply assumed or perhaps unconsciously believe that I wanted the flavoured tea (I would not want to think, though, that he wanted to make me pay more – it’s just an extra forty cents, anyways…).

It may seem trivial.  But it simply goes to show that the concept or the right attitude of ‘customer first’ has been second-placed.  Do not assume or ‘believe’ on your customer’s behalf that he would want this, or he would definitely want that.  Ask, and it won’t hurt you to check with the customers.  In fact, the customer will be pleased to know that he is given attention.

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