I’ ve been doing a lot of social media stuff with the help of a firm that specialises in the field. I can afford to do this because of European funding aimed at increasing my presence as a business, known here is “el kit digital”. This allows me to receive social media support for one year. So don’t be surprised if you see me on the Net a bit more promoting my services.

This means I have a new working relationship with a Spanish firm based in Valencia. I provide them with ideas for posts and they advise me about which would make the best ones, before designing the posts themselves and sending them to me to edit and give my final approval on.

The first issue arose with a low-quality video they uploaded for me. Here’s the transcript translated from Spanish (SP here stands for Service Provider):

Me (upon receiving the post for approval): Has the quality of the video changed? It looks blurry.

SP: It loses quality on WhatsApp, but I’ll make it good quality on my computer.

Me (after seeing the final post online): It seems that in the end the quality is the same as on WhatsApp... it’s not very clear.

SP: Because you sent it to me via WhatsApp. I made it the best quality possible. It doesn’t matter how I export it, if you send it to me here, it stays like this.

Me: Why didn’t you ask me to send it by another means then? Is it worth deleting it and replacing it?

SP: I already mentioned the issue of quality.

Me: Yes, but I understood that it was because I was watching it on WhatsApp and that the final version would be good quality, not because I sent it to you on WhatsApp.

SP: Well, you misunderstood me.

Me: I don’t understand why you’ve uploaded it with this quality and you didn’t ask for it by another means, when I already told you about the quality. It obviously didn’t seem right to me. I think it’s worth deleting and replacing it, right?

SP: I’m not going to argue, if you want me to delete it, I’ll delete it and do it again. I can’t do anything if you don’t understand me.

My point here is the cultural implications of the sentence “I can’t do anything if you don’t understand me”. Now you might say this is a typical reaction in any culture, and you may be right, but we can’t forget here that I am this firm’s client… this is not a personal conversation. And there’s the point, that a service provider would talk to a client as they would someone in a personal relationship. Not to mention no sign of an apology: it was my problem for not understanding.

Second situation: my contact at the company, with whom I regularly exchange messages, went on a week’s holiday without telling me. No one from the company contacted me, and eventually when I pushed them someone answered via the contact’s WhatsApp and ended up doing one post on the Wednesday, but nothing else all week. Here’s our exchange when my contact returned:

Me: Hello xxx. I was surprised no none told me about your holiday… and they only did one post last week.

SP: My colleagues have been very busy, they did what they could. This week I’ll do two for you, no problem.

In other words, not my/our/their fault, and no offer of making up for the missing post, only reassurance that things were back to normal.

Is it me? Am I wrong to point out this being a cultural reflection of work practices in Spain? To me, the client here is owed an apology and an offer to make it up to them, not an excuse and an attempt to protect colleagues. Although the impulse to protect colleagues may seem honourable to many, it doesn’t help the reputation of the business in question.

We all know the consequences of doing business in this way: poor customer service = poor image = fewer customers, etc. But the interesting thing I find about all of this is that I think the behaviour of the SP, who I would say displayed a lack of professionalism and poor communication, would be deemed completely acceptable in Spanish terms, rather than detrimental to the company’s success.


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