Service Excellence Sri Lanka

Customer service horror stories are a bonding conversation topic. The trauma cuts across most barriers of identity and other human eccentricities. Similar to the shared ordeals of Colombo traffic. Mentioning regular encounters with consistent excellence sounds like gloating. The perception is that good service is a luxury – acquired at high costs which the recipient can then boast about.

Yet I’ve found good service is the most unglamorous places. Specifically at the small sports ground I go for my evening run. The club that owns it rents the grounds to assorted sports coaching camps. When I get there at the end of the day, the cramped parking area is ant heap of sweaty kids and their stressed out parents trying to leave. Without the lone security guard the place would be log jam of angry drivers.

He’s an old guy. Hair almost white. Hardly any teeth yet always in a crisply ironed uniform and well kept Stalin moustache that radiates quiet authority. With a few deft hand gestures he averts disasters while getting me a parking spot. I’m out of the chariot and puffing through the perfume of cut grass (the non smoking kind) in seconds.

There are no shouted commands or angry faces. Even the fussiest of the parents seem relieved (after he has tamed them) that there’s someone who knows what he’s doing. Having watched him at work I’d say he has a better sensitivity to spacial awareness than most. Not to mention the rare gift to deal cooly with fussy characters.

The 2 weeks he was on leave was chaos. The club had to hire extra staff to clear the car park – which took twice the usual time. Fender benders are avoided by a hairsbreadth. I had to alter my schedule just to save time. I’ll let you imagine the collective relief when he came back.

I make it a point to let him know that his work is very appreciated. Not with flattery – just recognising the facts (and a gift on holidays). He takes it with a shy its-another-day-at-the-office type shrug. Which he is how he responded when I told him about the chaos during his absence – though this time I think I did spot a smile before it got camouflaged by a convenient cough.


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