Emotional Intelligence | Stevehein
Good Customer Service in Holland...even for non-Customers!
Today I am in Amsterdam, in a pub called the London Bridge. I came in originally just to download the pictures from my camera because it was full. I asked the bartender if I it would be okay and she said "Of course," with a bit of a suprised look, as if to say there wouldn't have been any need to even ask. But I have found it is better to ask because when I go into a place like this to download my pictures into my laptop, the employees often wonder what I am doing, or they ask me if I want a drink. Asking if I can download my pictures is a bit of an unusual request apparently, judging by the looks I sometimes get! Sometimes waitresses or waiters are very friendly and some times they seem a little annoyed.
In any case, here I am now for over one hour. I like the atmosphere here and now I have a bit of a story to tell. But I will try to keep it limited to just the customer service aspect and the story of the owner.
Okay, so after the bartender was so friendly about letting me use a table, I started looking for an outlet to plug in my laptop charger. I didn't see one so I asked her if I might be lucky enough for there to be an outlet. She quickly found me one and she even unplugged something else that was plugged in. As it turns out, this was the heater. I looked under the bench just now to find out! Enquiring minds need to know these things, and I am very inquisitive. (I just took a picture to show you the heater! I like people to know I don't make up these stories!)
Because I had a good feeling here, I decided to write a little in my journal before I downloaded the pictures. There was something I wanted to write about before I forgot. It was about my little chat with a prostitute sitting in one of the windows in the famous red light district. Since you might feel curious about that, there is a link below to that short story.
The girl just came and asked "You want to drink something meanwhile?" I said "No, I'm okay thanks." She smiled and said "Alright.". I'd like to interview her. She seems pretty happy or at least content. She didn't to be asking me to be helpful, not to pressure me to order something.
Maybe I will ask her when she has a free minute.
I feel a little guilty because I told her I just wanted to download my pics, but now I am here typing. She helped me find a place to plug in the laptop. In fact she unplugged something else so I could... and she had never seen me before. That is what I would call good customer service and I am not even a customer. So I will take a pic of the place and give them just a little free advertising!
I just asked her if I could take a picture of the bar. She said ok. I asked if she wanted to be in it. She said "Not today". ha ha. Then I asked if the owner is from England. She said he is from India.
Later I took pics outside. And I saw the Indian restaurant next door. I am guessing they are the same owner or family. And I think I took pictures of this place the first day I got here.
So now I just asked if he is a good boss. She said yes he is really good. She said "You can always come to him if you have problems. He's really nice." That touched me. I thoght how odd it was for me ...to hear that a guy who owns a bar is really nice. IŽd like to meet him and interview him, too. I wonder what he really thinks of British culture and society. This is definitely a British style bar. It has four tv screens, all with soccer games on and it has Sky Sports, something I saw all over in London.
Later the owner came by and I started to talk to him. I found out his name is Amber. I liked his personality and I asked if I could take his picture and write a little bit about him and the pub. Then I asked if the bartender, whose name is Jessie, would like to be in the photo and she agreed. Later I talked more to Amber and I wrote a little about him here.
It is refreshing to meet two people like Jessie and Amber in a busy city full of so many unhealthy temptations!
October 22, 2007
Here is the website for the pub
Amber and Jessie
One of the four TV's
This picture tells me a lot about Amber's management style. He lets his employees feel free to feel comfortable. They are not afraid of him. If I were to ask her how much she feels afraid of Amber she would probably say 0. And if I say how much does she feel respected by him, she will probably say 10. I will try it now.
I just asked her and she answered exactly as I expected her to. Then I asked her and Amber to come to the screen to see what I had written to show them what I had predicted. Then I asked Amber if he would let me record a few words from him and also if he would confirm that I was not making any of this up. He agreed and here are the two audio files
Amber 1, Amber 2
My laptop and backpack.
Amber, 35, has a very interesting history. He is from India and came to Amsterdam when he was 20. He had just finished a Masters degree in History at a university in India. He came to Amsterdam because his sister was here and she was lonely and wanted him to come. He lived with her and her husband for several years while he worked two jobs. One was in a supermarket as a salesman during the day and then at night he worked as a waiter. He was working 70 or 80 hours per week. Later he opened up a small Indian food restaurant. Then he sold that one and started another. Then he sold that and started another, but it didn't do well because he put it in a location where there weren't enough tourists and the Dutch didn't eat as much Indian food. He lost a lot of money but his parents helped him out. They sold a house which he had had bought for them in India four years earlier. Because real estate prices in India have been going up a lot, they were able to get some money to invest in a new business. His parents are now renting their house in India and Amber plans to buy them another house in the future. They had confidence in him as an entrepreneur so they took the risk in selling the house they were living in to help him. He bought this business about two years ago and says it is doing well.
But he told me about the unbelievable tax system in Holland. He said if he puts advertising on his storefront window, he has to pay a tax, if he has chairs on the street he has to pay a tax. He even pays an extra tax for having music in the pub!
Amber told me he recently got married, in February of this year. His parents arranged the marriage! I found this hard to believe, but he would have no reason to lie and I have heard of this before. He told his parents he hadn't found a girlfriend he really wanted to marry here in Holland and they started looking for a wife for him in India. They found someone, he met her, they got along well and ten days later they were married! He says it is going very well up to now. He also said that he wants to raise his own kids back in India. He said in Europe the children don't respect their parents. He said he still listens to his parents and even to his older sister who is one year older.
He has never studied business or customer service, but I liked his management style. He said he tells him employees if anyone comes in off the street to use the toilet, always let them in. His cousin, by the way is the owner of the Indian restaurant next door.
By the way, just in case you are skeptical, I am not getting paid anything to write this. If I were, I would let you know. I am writing it because it is interesting for me and I appreciate him letting me stay here and use his table to write and edit my pictures. His father, by the way was a police officer and a lawyer. He now has two family members who are lawyers, if I am not mistaken.
He has actually never lived in London. In fact he said he didn't really like the culture there. He bought this pub from a previous owner. He does like Amsterdam though and plans to stay here until he is ready to go back to India and start his own family.