Category Archives: Good practices

આપણે કમ્પીટીશન (હરીફો) પાસેથી શું શીખી શકીએ?

કોઇ પણ ધંધામાં બે પ્રકારના હરીફો હોઈ શકે. એક, જે આપણાથી વધારે સફળ હોય. બીજા આપણા કરતાં ઓછા સફળ હોય.

આપણાથી વધારે સફળ હરીફો સાબિત કરે છે કે માર્કેટમાં જે કસ્ટમરો છે, તેમની જરુરિયાતોને તેમણે આપણાથી વધારે સારી રીતે સમજી છે, અને તેમણે એ જરુરિયાતોને સંતુષ્ટ પણ કરી છે. આ હરીફો આપણા ધંધામાં કયાં સુધારો કે ફેરફાર કરવાની જરૂર છે, એ આપણને શિખવાડી શકે છે.
બીજી બાજુ, જે હરીફો આપણી સરખામણીમાં પાછળ છે, તેમની પાસેથી આપણને એવા પગલાઓના ઉદાહરણો મળે છે, જે માર્કેટમાં નથી ચાલતા, નિષ્્ફળ જાય છે. આ હરીફો આપણે ધંધામાં શું ન કરવું જોઈએ એ આપણને શિખવાડે છે.
કમ્પીટીશનથી ડરવાને બદલે કે એના પર ગુસ્સો કરવાને બદલે દરેક હરીફ પાસેથી કશુંક શિખવાનું સલાહભર્યું છે. માર્કેટ એક ગતિશીલ જગ્યા છે. ત્યાં સતત ઘણું પરિવર્તન થતું રહે છે. આપણે સતત શીખતા રહીએ, સતત સુધારો કરતા રહીએ, તો અવિરત વિકાસના માર્ગ પર આગળ વધી શકીએ.

What can we learn from competition?

More Successful competition demonstrates to us that there is some customer need that they have identified and satisfied better than us. They teach us what to do, what to improve in our business.

The competition which is less successful than us exemplify the approaches that don’t work. They teach us what not to do, what to avoid in our business.

Don’t shun competition. Learn from it. Market is a dynamic place. We can grow if we keep learning and improving.

Airtel, if your front-end is good, the back-end will be much better

The people in our company who interact with the customers can make or break a lot of things concerning our brand and organizational image. Whatever could be our strategy, planning and projections, if the people at the front desk mismanage customer experience, it all crumbles.

So, the way your receptionist treats your visitors, the tone with which the telephone operator greets a caller on phone, the manner in which your watchman behaves when a visitor comes in, the treatment that your counter sales person gives to a customer, the manner in which the waiter handles a guest at a restaurant – these are all the critical points where a lot of problems, disappointments, grievances and heart-burns to the customers occur. Most of the customers’ problems arise when they are treated badly by the front desk or the customer service people or call centre. If this starting point of trouble is taken care of, a lot of back-end work can be avoided.

This is more crucial for a service organization. I had a recent experience where a timely, sensible action could have saved a lot of headache and hardwork from back-end team at Airtel.

As is the case with many irresponsible and tired front-end people sitting on the customer-facing desks of many powerful service brands,  the employees at Airtel Relationship Centre (ARC) at Malad-West once more mishandled one name-transfer request from us. Their carelessness cost us 10 days of a disconnected phone, which could have been done in 48-hours, as promised by them.

Finally, Mahesh Narkar, a senior at Andheri office of Airtel handling transfers and customer verifications, took charge of the case and moved the things swiftly. If Airtel is a good brand, (which, as a customer I firmly believe it is), it is because of the people with strong initiative and customer focus like Mahesh Narkar.

But, Airtel can be much better, if the callousness at ARCs is reined in. A lot of unnecessary work for people like Mahesh will be saved only if the front-desk people take care of handling customers well.  A stitch in time can save a lot many in future…!

Why do we all need regular training?

There are groups of businessmen, professionals, managers, executives, housewives and individuals who regularly go and learn many new things. They attend various courses at universities, institutes, workshops, seminars, lectures, conferences etc. On the other hand, there is a much larger group of similarly occupied people who don’t believe in getting any training. Their argument is : “Now at this age and stage what is the use of training? Our days of learning and education are over when we finished our school/college. Now we have passed that age of learning. Now is the time of working, working, working. No learning.”

Should people in business, profession or job go and try to learn something new? Is training while working useful Does it add any value to a person’s abilities or performance?

Based on my own personal experiences and those of many others, I firmly believe it does. Regular training shapes and reshapes a person’s individuality like nothing else can. On-going learning process brushes us up and enhances our knowledge, skills and attitude, preparing us to take on bigger responsibilities and challenges.

Here is my argument why we all should keep learning. Always.

A typical year in a school or college has around 200 days of education. Let us assume that a graduate spends 15 years in school and college. This results in about 3,000 days of education and training. These are the formative years of our life and they build the foundation of our future. But, for most of us, real, hard, practical life does not start until we complete our studies, as we are safe inside protective shell provided by a family that takes care of all our needs.

Once the education gets over, a person enters the phase of work life. Along with the freedom to make own decisions, the responsibility to take charge of one’s own life also arrives. Real challenges of dealing with people of different types, circumstances, emotions, deadlines, stress start at this stage. In addition to the work life, a person also gets married in next few years, which brings its own demands on time, adjustment and adaptation due to changed roles and increased responsibilities. Eventually, their family expands and challenges multiply even more.

But during this expectable and natural process of changing life stages, a person generally does not have any formal or structured training to guide him/her. Whether it is a challenge at work, a problem about self-esteem or confidence, handling failures or issues in relationships, there is no obvious source where one can approach for help, forcing them to fend for themselves. Due to all this, one makes a few mistakes along the way. And hence, a lot of problems, frustrations, disappointments and confusions happen, deteriorating quality of life and mental peace. It may also result in sometimes irreversible physical health problems.

Of course, we do learn from these mistakes also, but learning from only our own mistakes limits our pace of learning to a great extent. Moreover, this limitation was earlier posed because of limitation of exposure and interaction. Now, the world has become a smaller place and there is a lot of sharing possible among people of the world. Training lets us learn from others’ mistakes also. That is a faster and smarter way of doing things in the new world order.

So, what is the solution? There are no fixed, ready made solutions to all the problems that our personal or work life poses. But, in order to equip ourselves for handling these problems, we must learn new things on a regular basis. In today’s time of rapid technology changes and fast moving trends, there is no alternative to equipping ourselves of relevant knowledge and skills. Also, the routine of life and its peculiarities, may take a toll on one’s attitude, motivation and enthusiasm also. To overcome this drain, we all must get involved with others and attend various training programmes to improve our knowledge, skills and attitude.

If we are ignorant, we may bask in the feeling of bliss, but we will have to depend on others for knowledge and skills to solve all our own problems. Outsourcing is a good management practice, but there is always a context. Nothing can be applied blindly without understanding the context. And for making sense of context, we need to go and learn. It makes a small but very important difference.

What your office cleanliness speaks about your business?

At first, it may sound funny or may appear insignificant, but the level of cleanliness in work place reflects a lot of important things about the organization.

A lot of work goes in keeping all parts of an office neat and clean during the busy day. In spite of that, some offices meticulously maintain the cleanliness. There is somebody who is assigned the responsibility to regularly wipe the place clean. This reflects the owner’s attitude of tidiness and cleanliness. The attention given to ensure good upkeep of the office tells about their overall healthy approach towards the business.

I was surprised at a gentleman’s insistence to visit toilet of every office that he visited. He told me that he checks the toilets to check the owners’ attitude. The condition of the toilet told him a lot about the owners and the future of the business. Only if the toilets are well maintained and clean, he will think positively about the business, he said. If the toilets are stinking, so is the business, he opined. Why else the owner would choose to ignore the stink and not do anything about it?

In a city like Mumbai, businesses sometimes do not have a choice to have separate toilets, when they have the premises within a co-operative society or an industrial estate. But still, within that shared facility, some action can be jointly taken by heralding support from other occupants.

In a seminar conducted by Radhakrishnan Pillai about application of Chanakya’s principles in business, he pointed out that Chanakya always strongly recommended good maintenance of the fort of the state, which corresponds to the office in business. One must give extra attention, make special arrangement and investment to ensure that the office is always kept clean.

Employees love to work in a clean work place. Their productivity and enthusiasm surely improve. Visitors also like to visit such places. The image of the organization gets a boost. Overall, a clean work place is a highly essential and profitable proposition for long term growth of the organization.

Check out the dirt, garbage, litter and stink around your work place. Before your employees, vendors, customers get repulsed by it, take steps to get it cleaned up. Make sure that the toilets in the work place do not stink and are maintained clean. Some visitor, very important for your business, may be noticing that, too…!

Remember, finally it is our work place. And as they say, work should be done like worship. A place of worship must be kept clean. Otherwise, the Gods will get angry…!

Here is why HDFC Bank is doing better

Because they serve their customers very well. In contrast to that, the service at Nationalized banks is nothing to be proud of.

Last Monday, I had first hand experience of the indifferent and non-cooperative attitude of Bank Of India, a nationalized bank, and caring and helpful approach of HDFC Bank employees.

We had reached at Vidyanagari Branch (Pune)  of Bank Of India at 2.29 to make fees payment. The shutter was being closed and the person doing that violently told us to go away. On request, he had to say “Time is till 2.30. All have already left for lunch. Go to Swargate branch if you want to make the payment.”

The Swargate branch, two kilometers away, had lunch time from 2.30 to 3.00 pm. When reopened, they refused to accept DD, as they did not know how to process the DD payment of fees. Finally, after a lot of convincing, they relented. But, immediately, the lady at the counter discovered that my DD (issued by HDFC Bank, Malad-East branch) had no signature…! This could be happening in one of the million cases, but then it did happen with us…! She sent me back, rudely saying “Pehle DD pe sign lekar aao… Our bank closes at 4 pm”.

Shocked, I called up Mr Ronak Parekh, my relationship manager at HDFC Bank. He was also shocked to know that the DD had no sign. He assured me that it will be sorted out soon, and told me to go to any nearby HDFC Bank branch saying they will authorize and sign it. I reached HDFC Bank’s Sahkar Nagar branch at 3.35 pm and informed them about the DD without sign. The person told me to wait for 10 minutes till he gets e-mail confirmation from my RM. I told him I did not have that much time. He promptly got up and went to his manager, Mr Sunil Bagade. The manager called up the RM, took his employee number, instructed him to send the email and signed the cheque. I was out in 3 minutes, flat…! I could reach Bank Of India well before the closing time of 4 pm.

It was only due to the prompt service of the branch manager Mr Sunil Bagade, that saved one full day for us. As long as people like him are there, HDFC will keep its customers happy in spite of some human error of unsigned DDs slipping out of the system. Such positive gestures can turn the errors into an opportunity to delight the customers. This is why private banks are scoring over public ones.

We all should try to ensure that all our employees are empowered and motivated enough  to give such caring and prompt service to our customers.