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Showing posts from 2013

Are You Being Served - Customer Mis-Experiences

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I hadn’t dealt in stocks for the last few years, and I was surprised when I received a bill from my stock broker for services which I had not availed of. I was willing to give the benefit of doubt to the broker and called their customer care.
Given the fact that I was a bonafide customer, I expected the call to be received well and my questions answered satisfactorily. The call was answered promptly by an IVR which directed me through a maze of options. After careful negotiation I was told that I was customer no. 17. I thought I would be attended to sooner than later. 5 minutes passed, then 10, then 15, 16, 17 and it reached 20. Imagine, I was on hold for 20 minutes and I did not get a representative to speak to me. So much for customer service!
During the length of the hold, I was treated to a series of marketing pitches. Since I was on hold for a long time, I went through with them twice. I could not help but think how they could serve me more when they could not serve me better wi…

If You Cannot Beat Them then Adopt Them - Extending Your Business Model

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Book-music-movie retailing in India has hit hard times with almost all the major chains shutting down. The online ‘menace’ of the free availability of movies and music; increasing popularity of digital books/ e-readers and discounting by online retailers has resulted in such a situation.

Take the case of Music World (MW) – part of the RPG Group. MW was the leader in the distribution of music, movies through CDs etc. The online phenomena literally killed the concept. Music was freely available on the net and that closed the largest revenue stream possible. Movies were available for downloads through torrents and that closed another huge revenue making opportunity.

Landmark, Odyssey and other chains which built their businesses on the retailing of books, tried to expand its scope to include music, movies, entertainment devices but the onslaught of the online business put paid to its business. There is a Flipkart or a Homeshop18 which is willing to offer home delivery with a wider variet…

There is a Hole in the Ship! - Missteps in Strategic Directions

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We had flight to catch at Delhi. And we were running late. We took solace in the fact that we had a real fast MUV and could rush to the airport in double quick time. But that was before we had factored a difficult clutch. While our initial thinking was correct we were slowed down by a faulty clutch which made the distance seem longer than usual.



There is an interesting anecdote about Dr. Gil Amelio (that’s how he liked to be called), the erstwhile CEO of Apple. In the late ‘90s, in a conversation with a journalist he said that Apple was a ship loaded with treasures, but it had a hole at the bottom, leaking water. And ‘my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction’. It gives a good laugh and Steve Jobs used it as a joke with many people including Larry Ellison, who needless to say could not control himself.

Many companies draw up grand plans giving it euphemisms like XXX 3.0 and so on. Strategy is a sexy word in the business world. How many CEOs would like to known as a good…

Back to the Future - The Comeback of the Old Boss

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Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, Charles Schwab, A.G. Lafley, Narayana Murthy, Micheal Dell, Kenneth Lay, Jerry Yang & Paul Allaire - The Comeback Bosses
And to spice it up - Jose Mourinho, Nawaz Sharif & Indira Gandhi

Back to the Future it is, in the corporate world. In the recent days both Procter & Gamble & J.C. Penney replaced their sitting CEOs with his predecessor. It is strange that this back-to-the-future approach had to happen. Whilst the boards may speak of it as a step in the right direction and make nothing out of this brouhaha, this kind of succession isn't common. Closer home, Narayana Murthy is back at the helm at Infosys albeit in an exalted manner as Executive Chairman.

No matter what the board opines it suggests a few issues –
a) Poor evaluation of the present CEO
b) Poor succession planning
c) Desperation
d) Lack of time to look for a new CEO

 On the flip side what the board gets is
a) A known person with successes to boot
b) Understanding of his skil…

Showing That You Care - How Empathy Helps at Work

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3 years back, the UK business magazine “Management Today”, along with the Institute of Leadership and Management, carried out a survey of approximately 2500 managers and non-managers each to determine how much trust employees have in the CEOs who run their organizations. 47% of those surveyed felt that leaders had done a good to very good job managing their companies through the recession.

Where things get interesting, though, is when they compared the trust levels attained by male and female CEOs. For the second year in a row, female CEOs rated higher trust levels than male CEOs. Interestingly male employees have a greater level of trust in female CEOs than those who work for male CEOs.

So what’s behind this growing divergence in trust levels employees have for female CEOs over male CEOs?

After careful analysis, the answer lay in - 'Empathy'
“Empathy means demonstrating concern and listening to reach an understanding of others ideas and feelings.”

Do not confuse empathy with s…

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish- Short Term Success, Long Term Failure

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I love the game of tennis. The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) releases tour rankings of its players at regular planned intervals. There is formula which is used to calculate the rankings of the players. To keep it simple, the rankings are based on the quality of tournaments played and quite obviously on the quality of players.
The emphasis in ATP rankings are based on tenacity, longevity and consistency. Very clearly, the rankings are not based on the score sheet of each match i.e. the difference in points between players in a match. Interestingly rankings in all the sports are based on similar parameters. The key in giving rankings to such people/ teams are those who give a sustained performance (over a defined time period). Blemishes like losses are evened out as the scoring is based on a certain time period.By that extension, players and teams, if they are to maintain or climb the rankings have to consistently perform and cannot afford to be short term winners or a flash …

Keeping the Customer Relationship Going - Key Learnings from My Marital Life

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This note was a very personal one when we completed a milestone of completing 20 years of our married life together.

7300 days ago, we had a traditional Malayali wedding in Trichur, Kerala. My grandmother (bless her), till her death insisted till that it was only because of her that we got married – (she got her thrills from it) – after all I was a favourite grandson (did I say only too?) and Latha was her only grand-daughter in law.


Latha is the scheming sort. Pretty soon she warmed her way into the hearts of my relatives. Infact she knew more of them than I did. They would rather talk to her than me. Forget relatives, she managed to swing my father her way. He actually thought that he had a great daughter in law much better than his own son! Poor me!



We are very different persons. I am the impatient one and Latha is just the opposite. My idea of a great time is to relax and chill, her idea of a great time is some action. She loves to party and I love to be at home and only party wit…