In this article and video, I’m excited explore the intriguing dynamics of service expectations in Ecuador. As both a customer and a service provider, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this multifaceted landscape from different angles. Cuenca beckons expats with its charm, but understanding its service culture is a vital part of your adventure.
“Expats often face a series of challenges adjusting to the service levels provided in Ecuador. From delayed responses to the use of different communication methods and the subtle intricacies of local culture, there’s a lot to navigate as a newcomer.“
Let’s begin with the customer’s perspective, where expats often find themselves grappling with unique challenges. It’s a journey of acclimatizing to the service levels provided in this enchanting city. Picture delayed responses, distinct communication methods, and the subtle nuances of local culture. My aim is to shed light on these challenges and help you make sense of the intricate service landscape.
Service Challenges from a Customer’s Lens
“Let me share a personal experience. It should have been a simple purchase, right? Jump on Amazon, and they arrive a few hours later. Nope. Firstly, there is no Amazon here, and bulky purchases like this can be expensive to ship from the US.”
Now, allow me to take you into the shoes of an expat customer navigating the intricacies of service expectations in Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s a journey rife with challenges, where the familiar can take on a whole new meaning.
The story begins with a seemingly simple task – the purchase of office chairs for our new studio. In the digital age, you’d expect to click a few buttons on Amazon, and voilà, they’d arrive at your doorstep within hours. But here in Cuenca, that expectation couldn’t be farther from reality. Amazon’s convenience doesn’t extend to this country, and bulky purchases from the US can incur hefty shipping costs, a reality expats quickly realize.
I found office chairs advertised locally on Facebook, each priced at an enticing $25. It seemed like a steal, and my expectations were set. However, my journey took an unexpected turn when I visited the shop to make the purchase. What I encountered was a classic example of the twists and turns that come with adapting to a new service culture. The promotional price was not honored, and I learned that only the display model was available to purchase – they were reluctant to order any others in.
What might seem straightforward elsewhere can take unexpected routes in this vibrant city. But, with a little resiliance and a lot of patience, this store did end up ordering me numerous more chairs at their advertised price of $25. This roadblock was turned into an opportunity to practice my Spanish negotiation skills and for that I am grateful.
Setting Realistic Service Expectations
“The foundation of a successful transition is setting realistic service expectations. It’s not about lowering your standards, but about aligning them with the local norms and practices.”
Now, let’s dive into the fundamental aspect of your journey as an expat in Cuenca – setting realistic service expectations. It’s a cornerstone of success, and it’s not about compromising your standards but about embracing the local norms and practices that shape this unique service landscape.
One pivotal lesson I’ve learned along the way is the need to align expectations with the local culture. It’s not about lowering your standards but understanding that what may be standard practice in your home country can be different in Ecuador. This harmonization with local norms is vital to ensuring smoother interactions with businesses and service providers.
A prime example of this alignment is the dominance of WhatsApp as the primary communication tool in Ecuador. While you may be accustomed to email as the go-to mode of communication, in Cuenca, WhatsApp reigns supreme. It’s the key to connecting with businesses, and if you’re not already using it, I strongly recommend setting it up on your phone. This small adjustment can significantly enhance your ability to communicate and access services.
Setting realistic service expectations, in essence, allows you to embrace the local way of doing things while maintaining your standards. It’s a delicate balance that expats must strike to fully immerse themselves in the Ecuadorian experience.
Adapting to Ecuador’s Turnaround Times
“I’ve had to adapt to local turnaround times. For example, if I send an email to a business in the US, I would have a general expectation that it will be addressed in 24 hours. Here I’m lucky if I get a response within four or five days.”
One of the prominent areas where expats need to adapt is in dealing with local turnaround times. In many parts of the world, sending an email to a business might come with a general expectation of a response within 24 hours. However, in Cuenca, the rhythm of service can be a little different. Here, you’ll often find yourself waiting for a reply for four or even five days, which can be quite an adjustment.
This change in pace emphasizes the need for patience and persistence in your expat journey. When seeking resolutions or responses, you may need to send multiple follow-ups, and it’s tempting to become frustrated or impatient. This is where the gentle art of adapting comes into play. It’s not just about embracing the slower response times but also about exploring alternative communication methods. Here, WhatsApp emerges as a lifeline, offering expats a direct and faster means of reaching businesses and service providers.
Embracing these differences, rather than resisting them, will lead to a more harmonious expat experience in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador.
Challenges from a Service Provider’s Perspective
“Indeed, one of the main reasons we operate a real estate business is because we found many of the existing agents simply did not provide a good service.”
Now, let’s switch perspectives and delve into the world of service provision from the viewpoint of YapaTree Properties.
Our journey into Cuenca real estate began with a simple realization – many of the existing agents were falling short when it came to providing a good service. The bar was set rather low, and we recognized an opportunity to offer something better. Hence, YapaTree Properties was born.
At the heart of our approach is the use of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) to manage the entire customer lifetime journey. This tool ensures that we not only respond in a timely manner but also centralize and organize our communication efficiently. We’ve set a standard for ourselves – responding to customer queries within 24 hours, often even quicker. It’s a commitment we take seriously because we understand the importance of timely and organized communication, especially for expats making significant decisions.
However, it’s not without its challenges. We encounter customers who hold expectations that exceed local norms, and this can sometimes lead to complications. While the majority of our customers are fantastic to work with, there’s a small portion that presents difficulties. Some are, unfortunately, rude and, in some cases, may even have mental health issues, making these relationships challenging to navigate.
It’s in our nature to try and resolve as many issues as possible for our clients. However, we maintain a clear stance – treat us, or our staff, with disrespect, and we won’t work with you. This decision isn’t made lightly, but it’s a testament to our commitment to providing a positive and respectful working environment for our team.
Overcoming Service Challenges with Positivity
“When it comes to confronting service challenges in Ecuador, there’s one tool that stands out as the most potent in your arsenal – the power of positivity.”
Challenges, whether in the realm of service or in life, are opportunities in disguise. It’s a mindset that can turn adversities into stepping stones, and it’s particularly relevant in the context of expat life in Ecuador. The ability to accept challenges as opportunities for growth is a valuable trait that expats can cultivate.
In my own journey, I’ve found that stepping back and asking myself, “Does this really matter?” often helps when faced with service challenges. It’s a reminder that not every issue is worth the frustration it might cause. It’s a lesson in discerning what truly matters and what can be let go. For instance, does it truly matter if office chairs weren’t individually packed into boxes? In the grand scheme of things, perhaps not.
Accepting these challenges as opportunities to practice adaptability, resilience, and creativity can make all the difference in your expat journey. It’s about pushing yourself in ways you might not have in your home country, learning from each encounter, and emerging stronger on the other side. This constructive outlook can be a guiding light, helping you navigate the multifaceted service landscape in Ecuador.
Patience and persistence are two more allies in your arsenal when confronting service challenges. The journey might require multiple follow-ups, and it’s tempting to become frustrated. However, embracing the local service environment also means recognizing you might need to stay on top of your service provider with a little more patience then you otherwise might.
“Remember that whenever you face a service challenge, it’s not a roadblock but an opportunity for growth.”
Every interaction, every hurdle, is a part of your adventure. It’s a tapestry woven with unique experiences that contribute to your personal and cultural growth. The challenges you face in the realm of service are not barriers but stepping stones, guiding you toward a deeper understanding of the local culture and its intricacies.
As you continue your journey in Cuenca, remember that YapaTree is here to support you. We’re dedicated to providing you with valuable insights and knowledge to enhance your experience as an expat. Whether it’s real estate, cultural nuances, or service expectations, we’re here to be your trusted companion on this remarkable adventure.
Additionally, if you’re in the market for a property in Cuenca, explore our current listings or share your preferences with us, and we’ll assist you in finding your ideal home in this charming city.
Your trust and support mean the world to us, and we’re excited to continue being a part of your Ecuadorian adventure. Until our next rendezvous, take good care, savor every Yapa (extra) that life in Cuenca has to offer, and cherish every moment of this extraordinary journey. Ciao!
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View full video transcript
Service Levels in Ecuador: Expectations vs Reality [Transcript]
Hola, Jason from YapaTree here. Today we delve into an important topic for anyone making the transition to Ecuador: Navigating service expectations. I’m going to address it from 2 perspectives. As a customer and as a service provider. Let’s go.
Experts often face a series of challenges adjusting to the service levels provided in Ecuador. From delayed responses to the use of different communication methods and the subtle intricacies of local culture, there’s a lot to navigate as a newcomer. To help you grasp these challenges, allow me to share a couple of personal anecdotes. Firstly, these office chairs in our new studio sidebar. Do you like it? It’s almost ready. And back to the chairs – should have been a simple purchase, right? Jump on Amazon and they arrive a few hours later nope. Firstly, there is no Amazon here and bulky purchases like this can be expensive to ship from the US. Even if we wanted to go down that path, we purchased them locally. I found them on Facebook with a promotional price of $25 each. Great, that’s a really nice price. So I went into the shop to buy them only to find out that they would not honor the promotional price.
Apparently marketing had messed up and they only had the display model in stock and they wouldn’t be able to order any others at that price. Now in Australia and the US I know that we’re used to consumer legislation that makes it difficult for businesses to do this. I’m actually not sure what the legislation is on these matters here, but I figured there was a strong enough gray area to put forward a case to push on with my purchase.
And after 30 minutes of back and forth I did end up getting the chairs for the office at the advertised price and they ordered several more for me at this price. Little victory here, fantastic. I received an email about a week later that I could pick up the chairs, so I went in right away and I was told to wait at the entrance whilst the staff picked up the chairs. They turned up around 45 minutes later with what appeared to be a whole bunch of chair parts in various bags, so I naturally asked the dude, “There’s no instructions or inventory list. How am I supposed to know that I have all the parts?” And his response was a simple shrug at the shoulders, and at this point I had to either accept the random assortment of chair parts or push for a refund. I was tired and I wanted the chairs, so I just took the bags and made a tiny leap of faith that all the parts were included. Clearly I did manage to IKEA my way through setting up these chairs and all ended well in this instance. Now I’ve lived in Ecuador for over five years and whilst I’m certainly no stranger to these types of scenarios, I do still find myself a little bit frustrated when they occur.
Especially if I’ve had like two or three similar interactions during the same day. I do tend to need to remind myself just to take a step back and breathe, maybe have some coffee. I tell myself that this is one of the reasons that I love Cuenca and Ecuador so much – it’s because of the relaxed attitude towards daily living. And so maybe I just can’t have it both ways.
The foundation of a successful transition is setting realistic service expectations. It’s not about lowering your standards, but about aligning them with the local norms and practices. For example, one pivotal aspect of adapting is recognizing the dominance of WhatsApp as the primary communication tool in Ecuador. It’s the key to communicating with all businesses here. Email really isn’t used much locally – I wish it was used more as that is my preference. But I also realize that WhatsApp is probably not used a lot in the US or or wherever you’re from, and so I do strongly recommend spending a few minutes to download it, it is free, and setting it up on your phone.
Now let’s talk about turn around times. I’ve definitely had to adapt to local turnaround times. For example, if I send an email to a business in the US, I would have a general expectation that it will be addressed in 24 hours. Here I’m lucky if I get a response within four or five days. The most likely scenario is that I need to email them again or find a different contact method – either calling them or sending a WhatsApp message. And that is as a customer. If I’m asking a business to actually do something, for example, maybe they’ve expressed an interest in advertising with YapaTree and I’ve sent them a proposal. I generally need to follow up with this business at least five times.
It is what it is, and I cannot change that. Whenever I get frustrated, I do find myself going back to the words of Martin, the owner of Golden Prague Pub and Restaurant, when he said, “You have to accept that the people will not do it the way you want.” I am slowly accepting this and that gives me a little bit of peace.
But you also need to be very careful about expressing your frustration openly. Ecuadorian defamation laws are very different to what you’re used to, and you can quickly find yourself in hot water if you start bad mouthing a business here. Even comments on social media can be grounds for a business commencing legal action against you. I hate this, especially as a content producer. There is just so much that I cannot say and it further frustrates me as a consumer. But this is Ecuador and I’ve had to adapt and I suggest you do too.
So here are some tips for adapting when it comes to confronting service challenges in Ecuador, there’s really one tool that stands out as the most potent in your arsenal and that is the power of positivity. It can transform difficulties into stepping stones and adversities into opportunities. Taking a step back and asking myself, does this really matter often helps me as well. Do I really care that my office chairs weren’t individually packed into boxes? Ultimately, no. I would have cared if the pieces weren’t all there, and I would have had to endure more wasted time if they were not. But spending more time going back and forth with the cashier at the time of purchase was not going to help the situation.
Accepting this challenge as an opportunity to practice my Spanish negotiation skills proved to be very helpful. I also suggest trying to be as patient as you can when you’re sending multiple follow-ups. You’ll likely need to send numerous nudges to get your desired result, and it’s tempting to be snarky and confrontational when doing so. But if you start adding language barrier issues into this, you can quickly end up with a spiraling situation with you as the main loser.
So don’t be afraid to test your adaptability, resilience and creativity. Push yourself in ways that you’ve never pushed yourself in the US or wherever you’re coming from. Learn, grow, and come out stronger on the other side. It’s this constructive outlook that can make all the difference in your expat journey.
But let’s jump to the other side of the fence as a service provider, YapaTree Properties. Now indeed, one of the main reasons we operate a real estate business is because we found many of the existing agents simply did not provide a good service.
The bar was set rather low, so I knew that we could quite comfortably out compete other agents on service. And of course we do. To my knowledge, we’re the only real estate agency in Cuenca that uses a CRM to manage the full customer lifetime journey. This allows us to ensure we’re not just responding in a timely manner, but importantly, it also allows us to keep all of our communication centralized and in order. And ultimately this allows us to set customer response times to within 24 hours. Often it is a lot quicker. But, even so, we still come across some customers that have much higher expectations than this. And if this is you, I do suggest you spend some time adapting to local expectations and if not, you’ll likely find yourself frustrated on a daily basis. And I don’t think that’s a great way to live your life.
Now let me be clear, 99% of our customers are amazing and we’re extremely grateful that you trust us for your real estate needs. It’s only a very small portion of customers that we’ve ever had issues with. And a quick rant, there are just some plain rude customers out there and some likely have mental health issues too, which can make it very challenging to navigate these relationships. It is in our nature to try and resolve as many issues as possible for our clients, but treat me, or even worse my staff rudely and we will not work with you, period. I will not put our staff in a situation where I would not want to be in myself and I do not like working with impartial, self absorbed individuals. And yes, this is probably a little bit harsh, but I think you catch my drift. Treat us right and we’ll bend over backwards to help you.
Now, a heartfelt thank you for joining us today. Remember that whenever you face a service challenge, it’s not a roadblock but an opportunity for growth. Every interaction, every hurdle, a part of your adventure. And as you continue your journey, we invite you to stay tuned for upcoming videos on real estate and all aspects of life in Ecuador.
And if you haven’t subscribed yet, please feel free to do so as it does really help our message reach more people. Of course, if you’re in the market for a property to buy or rent in Cuenca, do feel free to check out our current listings or submit your preferences and we’ll find it for you. Links are in the description below.Thank you very much for watching and I’ll catch you in the next video. Ciao.