How a business loses its customers?

Till about a year back, I subscribed to Hindustan Times and its sister publication Mint. But, I discontinued them and switched to Times Of India and Economic Times.

Why?

Because HT/Mint failed to help me to continue. They were disinterested. Generally, one would expect the newspaper office to be aware well in advance when any subscription is due for renewal. HT/Mint did not care that my subscription was expiring. They let it lapse. Till about two months, nobody from their office realized that they had lost a customer. (Typically, this happens when you are losing hundreds or thousands of customers and don’t really understand whom to track.)

Times came in on time. They were prompt, true to their leadership position. Last month, they followed up and collected my second year renewal. About one month in advance…!

And, on the other hand, since about an year, the ill-informed executives of HT/Mint send me a lot of SMSs, calls and individual follow-ups to remind me for renewal, blissfully ignorant that my subscription had ended one year back…! Either HT/Mint don’t have a CRM in place or it sucks…

When you are too busy to track your sales and customers, you ignore your ready and loyal customers, you lose business. Customer apathy is a sin, which leads to a heavy punishment.

No wonder, Times leads. In every area of business of publication, be it editorial, content, innovation, pricing or sales.

Hindustan Times & Mint need to learn a few lessons from the leader whom they may hate to follow.

Three Success Lessons From A Successful Indian CEO

At a recent speaking assignment at a company’s annual day, I got a chance to listen to the inspiring speech of Ghanshyam Dholakia, the managing director (MD) of the Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd.

Mr Dholakia shared an advice with his employees to succeed in life. “To succeed in any job, profession, business or in life, you need to ask yourself the following three questions,” he said.

1) Do you do your job without being reminded?

If you need reminders and follow-ups to complete a task, you will find it difficult to achieve something really worthwhile in your life. Taking responsibility of a task is a characteristic of dependable people. If you need reminders to do something, you reduce the speed of the team of which you are part of. A team or an organisation can grow only if all the members take up their share of responsibilities, and perform the tasks on their own.

Being able to complete tasks on your own requires constant self-motivation. And this self-motivation is an asset, which can take you ahead of the others in life.

2) Do you do exactly what you said you will do?

Successful people keep their word. They do whatever they said they will do. They don’t cut corners. They always deliver satisfactory performance. On the contrary, losers speak more, and do less. They make a lot of promises, but don’t keep them. Their performance is less than satisfactory.

If you cut corners, if you always leave a task before its completion, if you over-promise and under-deliver, you are reducing your chances of success. Talking is easy. Doing is difficult. But, it is action alone which will produce results and that only will determine your trajectory.

3) Do you do it when you said you will do it?

Your relationship with keeping your time reveals a lot about you. When someone meets you for the first time, they believe your words completely. They presume you will do all that you said you will do. This belief remains till you perform your first task with them. If you fail to arrive on time or get late on your first promised action, the credibility of your words crashes down. Your punctuality about keeping your time will determine your dependability. People form opinions about you based on your performance on time front. If you are late in fulfilling your various commitments, your word starts losing its impact.

Your trait about punctuality starts when you arrive at your office everyday. For instance, if the time to reach your office is at 9 am with 15 minutes’ grace time, there will be three types of people in the company:

a) Those who always arrive at work before 9 am
b) Those who arrive after 9 but before 9:15 am
c) Those who always arrive late after 9:15 am

Everyday these later-comers give some or the other excuse for being late. These lame excuses are meaningless, except that those who fall under this category prove only one thing that they are not dependable. They can’t keep their word. These people will not get any responsible assignments, if there is alternative. Their chances of success will always remain limited. Also, it is not only at work that the credibility of these late-comers is weak. Such people fail miserably in keeping up to their commitments in all areas of life, at work, at home or in the society. Arriving late or not doing anything on time is their common trait.

So, ask the above three question to yourself. If answers to all these questions are ‘yes’, you are on the path to success. If not, you have some work to do.

This is a really useful and ‘workable’ advice from a man heading an organization of more than 8,000 motivated employees.

How to handle exam failure?

This is a season of school and college results. Like every examination result, this year, too, there will be many joys and some disappointments.

Handling exam result setbacks is difficult, but not impossible. I have passed through such frustrating experiences.

On the day when I got news of my result much below my expectation, I was shattered. The world seemed to end that day. It was too bad to handle. I felt terribly sense of shame and clueless.

But thankfully, I survived. And no, the world did not end. Neither did it stop.

I did not get good marks as per the expectations of myself and others. But, I got some important learning.

The learnings are :
1) The result is only the reflection of my performance on a particular day. It is definitely not the reflection of my abilities.

2) I learnt that time is the best healer.
With time, I forgot everything, including the painful disappointment that overwhelmed me on that day. I learnt that “This, too, will pass.”

3) The best thing happened was that now I had an experience to deal with a personal setback and survive it. It sort of prepared me to deal with life’s circumstances with renewed resilience.

So, if you are not happy with your exam result, don’t worry. Learn from the failure. Move on.

Remember,  few marks more don’t make you a Hero and few less don’t convert you into Zero.

Life is much more than a mark sheet.

Handle with care…

Akhil’s father was Dwarkadas’ close friend. During Akhil’s childhood at the village, their two families lived next to each other and lived like one joint family. Dwarkadas was an LIC agent. Akhil used to call him “uncle”.

Later on, Akhil moved to Mumbai. After some initial struggle, he got help from his cousins to get into their business and flourished. Recently, even Dwarkadas moved to Mumbai and wanted to expand his LIC work in Mumbai.

He got in touch with Akhil, who welcomed him warmly and also gave him some insurance work from his office. Dwarkadas was happy that his interaction restarted with Akhil. He used to visit Akhil’s office once in few weeks. Each time he went there, he would try to meet and say ‘hello’ to Akhil. He would also chat with him for few minutes asking him about everybody in the family.

Very soon, whenever Dwarkadas  would try to meet him, Akhil would convey through his secretary that “he is in meeting”. Initially, Dwarkadas took this as a genuine reason. But, soon he found out that Akhil was avoiding meeting him. After 3-4 such repeated incidents, he asked the secretary “Can I speak to him on intercom at least?”. The secretary flatly refused, saying “Uncle, Akhil Sir has told me not to let you in when he is sitting with some other people. He dislikes you talking to him about home and family in office. He also does not like you calling him by his first name. Everybody here calls him Akhil Sir. Aap unko Akhil kehke bulaate hein aur time pass karte hain woh unhe achchha nahin lagta.”

Dwarkadas learnt his lesson of the professional world. The rules of personal relationships should not be applied in work place. Keep work and home relationships separate. Do not try to make the twines meet. Don’t bring home to office and vice versa. It may harm both the ends…!

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.