World Class Customer Service in the Philippines

I was having breakfast with a trainer one day and she kept on complaining about how bad the service in the Philippines was, in general. She kept on harping about examples of world class service of great American companies and compared them to the service that she gets in the Philippines.

I then asked her which state she visited in the United States and she revealed to me that she hasn’t actually traveled there. But based on the business books that she has read, they have superb service.

Having just come from a US trip, I quickly shared to her my experience in the hotels that I stayed in. Except for a few quality hotels like the Hilton, most of the hotels I stayed in did not have great service. Most of their guest relations officers were not really that friendly. Some were bordering on indifferent and rude. Interestingly, the most helpful service crew that they had were in fact, Filipinos.

I then told her, don’t believe the foreign hype. Never think that our people are not world-class. Contrary to what you think, Filipinos are much more helpful and polite in general.

In our country, even three-star hotels have friendly staff ready and eager to assist and carry your baggage which was sorely missing in most of the US hotels that I stayed in. I was actually surprised that I had to drag my luggage there. In the Philippines, we have many bellhops who will approach you as soon as you go in the hotel to help.

Here, you go to a gas station and a gas boy is there ready to greet you, fill up your tank, clean your windows, pump air into your tires and give road directions. In the US, it’s do-it-yourself.

Grocery shoppers in our country even get extra help from bag boys who will bring your shopping cart to your car upon request. They are even willing to carry everything themselves if they can’t use the cart. The help that they provide makes shopping so convenient.

They don’t normally have that in America. In their country, you are left to fend for yourself. It’s all do-it-yourself because labor is expensive in their country.

So, you see. The Philippines’ brand of customer service isn’t so bad. In fact, I think it is at par with some of the world’s best. What makes it special is that most of the service is given with willingness and sincerity because Filipinos are naturally friendly and helpful. In terms of attitude, most Filipinos have it right.

Of course, there will always be room for improvement. Philippine customer service can be world-class if business establishments look into these areas…

Product Knowledge
Even if the customer service representative is friendly, if he cannot help because he doesn’t know the products fully or is unaware of promos, pricing and process, it will be impossible for him to give superb service. Good customer service is not just about smiling. It is about being able to help customers and answer their questions.

Business Etiquette
Not a lot of people are aware of proper etiquette. Usually, people who are rough around the edges do not mean to be impolite. They just need a little polishing and education of business and social etiquette. Good manners will greatly improve the company’s image to their customers, so it is wise for companies to invest in training their people.

Communication Skills
Most Filipinos are eager to help, but they may have problems with communications skills such as listening, comprehension and articulating what they want to say. There are also times where, faced with a foreigner, they may get tongue-tied. This can easily be improved through practice, exposure and learning.

Customer Service System
Often overlooked, this is a critical part of great customer service. World-class business establishments invest in gadgets and tools that will help their people provide the best service to all their customers. They have customer tracking systems, spiels, operation manuals for customer service and even a customer complaint reporting system.

Customer Solutions
Customers who encounter problems are the most in need of good customer service. World-class business establishments track and anticipate the most common problems encountered by their customers. They then equip their people with Customer Solutions Protocols that will guide them in solving their customer’s problems. Hence problem-solving is systematized.

The Philippines have what it takes to provide Great Customer Service. With a few improvements here and there, we can be at par with the world’s best. Filipinos are world-class, we just have to believe and appreciate our own people. In terms of service, we’ve got it good in our country! Don’t let other people tell you otherwise.

Check out Businessmaker Academy’s Customer Service Excellence & Customer Conflict Handling Seminars.

Note:  This article was originally published at Manila Bulletin Newspaper.

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and HR Club Philippines.  Her organization offers public seminars and in-house training on Human Resource Management and Business Skills Development.   You may email your comments and questions to: