Came across this interesting post by Seth Godin on his experience in applying for a VISA at the Indian Consulate. Totally agree with Godin that little touches like this make a world of difference to the way people perceive a country before they travel there for whatever purposes. I guess this is why in branding and marketing, every single customer touchpoint matter, right from the start (warm welcome) of the experience till the end (fond farewell).
“..Many of the chairs are broken, leaving sharp steel platforms on which to crouch. And there aren’t enough chairs, broken or not. The signs are confusing, the two clerks are protected by a sheet of glass a full inch thick (which is twice the thickness of a typical bank’s) and the little machine that dispenses deli-style tickets is broken.
Fixing the consulate would be easy. I’d start by putting in phone lines to a call center in India and making it easy for anyone waiting to get questions answered by a helpful person with plenty of time to invest in the conversation. I’d buy some comfortable chairs. I’d invite airlines and hotels to have brochures or even better, a booking agent right there in the waiting area. I’d hire seven more clerks. And I’d definitely lose the glass.
The more important issue is this: this is a business. They take in more than $20,000 a day in fees, but even more important, the way they market themselves has a direct and important impact on travel decisions. No visa, no trip. Big hassle, no trip. Given that every single person traveling to this vast country must deal with the consulate first, think of the leverage… Just a small influence on the quantity or quality of travel to India would be huge.”