04 August 2010

How can I annoy you today?

Not too long ago, I used to rant and rave to all my friends about Hong Kong's impeccable customer service. Back then, I was only visiting HK for short eating and shopping summer trips, but I remember being really impressed with how insanely fast Cafe de Coral assembled orders in front of my eyes and getting my brand new glasses made in 1-2 days and delivered straight to my hotel (now that's service)!

Having lived here a while now, I've come to realize that Hong Kong is no longer a benchmark for great customer service. In fact, it should really be called customer annoyance, thanks to all the crap and stress the shop attendants these days put you through. It almost makes me wish I had grown up in Hong Kong, just so that I could also take a stab at annoying the crap out of people, instead of being brainwashed into believing that 'the customer is always right' as we did in North America. Can you imagine how fun it'd be, especially as a teen?!

From the moment the customer walks through the door, you are free to bombard them with insincere and repeated welcome messages repeated over and over in your most annoying voice (hello becomes HELLAUUUWWW, and Ohayo gozaimasu can become OHGAZMMMSSSSS)!

Next, you're paid to follow each customer tightly around the store and provide a running commentary on everything s/he touches or glances at. ("Pink shirt-White shirt-Blue shirt-White shirt-White shirt-Striped shirt-White shirt-Blue shirt-Black shirt" etc.)

You are also welcome to ridicule the customers freely based on their physical appearances, such as:
  • "You might be a little OLD for this?"
  • "Have you always been THIS big?"
  • "That style is way too cool for you."
  • "You are probably gonna need the XXXXXXXXXXXXXL size."

Still can't make a sale? Simply make the customer feel like a cheapo compared to his/her peers. Easy la!

Seriously though, despite all this 'abuse', Hong Kong people just keep on buying. Perhaps someone should implement this model in North America and see how it goes. Maybe then our poor teens can finally take a break from faking smiles for customers, when we all know that inside, they really just wanna annoy them back out of the store...

Read all the fun stuff at Miss Fong in Hong Kong.


  1. I prefer aggressive courtesy to sullen indifference. If they can't give me real hospitality at least give me some fake one, I really don't mind. But I think I know what you are talking about. One time I was in a G2000 kind of store. I couldn't find my size and the sales person was aggressively courteous and helpful and she sang song her way to ask the inventory clerk to check my size XL so the whole store can hear. Now I am not exactly ashamed of my pant size or anything (OKAY maybe a bit) but I just liked to keep it between she and me or may be even the store clerk but certainly not the entire store.

  2. During my stay in HK in nearly 3 years, I have noticed how the people has turned into not so polite and like the post mentions, a bit more annoying. You can pretend to offer a good service to the clients but always leave a "space", this will make things easier.

    Hope shops and their employees realised that they have to change their attitude to improve their image, not just for tourists, also for the citizens.

  3. Don't blame the employees, I blame the company mentality. This kind of staff training spreads across HK as the supervisor of one chain is promoted to another store when actually they should be fired. Also, the mentality of Hong Kong business is to get 'good value' for money from the staff, rather than have them standing around not doing anything, this could be perceived as 'mhm dai'. So you will often see sales staff get animated as soon as a customer walks in or face the wrath of their (incompetent) supervisor.

    The solution? Fire those supervisors, and employ people who treat people like people, not money on legs.

  4. One thing I notice about the service in restaurants and stores is that there are just way too many employees. Perhaps this helps keep the unemployment rate low, but I can't imagine that having so many servers helps keep those prices down. In stores, this leads to WAY too aggressive service, yet in restaurants those employees till just wander around not paying any attention to anyone until you shake a hand in their face. I'd prefer the exact opposite: more attention in bars/restaurants but much less in stores. (In stores, if I don't ask for help, I can probably just grab what I want on my own. This is obviously not the case in restaurants.) In the IFC mall, it's hilarious to walk by the make-up stores and watch seven employees swarm the one customer in the store.

  5. Its all to do with the level of unemployment in HK, and how businesses have cottoned onto it. Basically, there's not enough jobs, so businesses employ loads of people that are either on cheap basic wages topped up by tips/commission or normal wages but have to hit weekly/monthly targets to keep themselves in the job. Whereas around a decade ago, the customer service was very good, its morphed due to an ever increasing dog-eat-dog society into its aggressive stance today.

  6. Which ever way you look at it, it's a poor way to run a business at the end of the day.


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