Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yes, it’s a thin line

There is always a thin line between:
  1. confidence and arrogance
  2. dressing smartly and overdressing
  3. pointing out the details and nitpicking
  4. loosely coupled business unit and emergence of chaos in company
  5. spending on comfort and spending on luxury
Different people will see you on different side of the line for any of your action. Judging people is highly subjective and depends primarily on evaluator’s perception. Whichever side of the line you are, you are better off there instead of moving to other side of the line just for people’s sake. So do what you feel like irrespective of what people might perceive which side of the line you are. Because, always, few people might feel you are wrong and few people might feel you are right.
An organisation should always seek feedback continuously, reassess its stance and act judiciously. But don’t give too much importance to people’s perceptions; if you feel you are doing it right just carry on. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Last week I happened to visit a hospital’s waiting room. There TV was not working. Everybody in the room was clueless whom to contact. It seems to lie outside everyone’s domain of responsibility. Nurses, housekeeping staff, electrician et al were either nonchalant or busy with their daily chores. How great it would have been if some trigger\feedback was sent to maintenance folks automatically!

Feedback is necessary and does add value. Either we act on received feedback or not but one should actively seek feedback so that we are aware of diverse opinions. We generally tend to leave it to people (either our customer or client) to give feedback. But as nearly all of us are in crunch of time not many people takes out time to give feedback. People are more inclined in finding other option than mending the existing option. We can’t depend entirely on willingness of people to get feedback. Create processes that either automate feedback capture or prods people to give feedback. When ATM machines stops working some trigger should tell maintenance folks to act on it. Historic trend (per hour or, better, every ten minutes) can be collected for every specific machine based on its usage. Once that’s historic usage trend is violated system should flag that as discrepancy and highlight this to maintenance folks. They can validate whether it’s real discrepancy or just a blip. It will lead to decreased maintenance turnaround time and will lead to increased availability of machine hence enhanced customer experience. For how long banks will depend on security guard at ATM or unhappy customer to report ATM's malfunctioning to bank?

Any machine that can capture data should be used as feedback mechanism. The machines that don’t capture data should be modified to capture data and send it to right people for their processing.

If you are dealing with people then don’t rely on people proactively giving feedback. Make processes so that process prods people to give feedback. Like don’t let your waiters to decide whether to take feedback from customers or not. They might shirk from their responsibility many a times. Make this a process that every time some customer is billed, waiter has to mandatorily collect feedback while giving the bill to customer.

Right interpretation of feedback is also very important. Sometimes if you coerce people into giving feedback they won’t tell you the right thing but they will tell you the thing that is easiest\fastest for them. So do give leeway to people whether they want to give feedback or not. Always look for dissenters\outliers while analyzing feedback. Dissenters are the folks who will give you different feedback. Whatever that may be, right or wrong, but you will get different feedback from them. In this world of ‘schedule adherers’ or ‘people blabbering niceties’ or ‘intentionally vague people’ dissenters are rare breed so they must be appreciated for their thinking.
Actively collect feedback, improve, collect feedback, improve……..

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are you ready for the big day?

We are always told that failure is fine. We can learn from mistakes, improve and carry on. But what if you fail on your BIG day, the day you are most expected to deliver? 
Many a time famous bloggers refer or point out something in their blog and add web link to something interesting. The server hosting newly recommended thing crashes because of huge number of hits that day.
This not only make you lose your probable customers but also give them a negative first impression. In case they hear about you again from some other source next time, they might not turn up.

What if one day you get 20 times more customers?
What if your company gets a big proposal today?

Plan for the big day (when it’s about to come you will know that it’s coming; gut feeling?). Get ready and deliver that very day. Because some mistakes pushes you back few years.
Someone rightly said that “it takes 20 years to become overnight success” so that night you need to deliver.
And if sudden rush flummoxed you, recover fast and deliver.
It’s all about delivering at right time. And nothing more right time than Big day.

Can you call me back, please?

Nearly entire world whines about customer support call center’s long waiting period. But not many organizations did anything substantial regarding this. Companies still have average waiting period of 10 plus minutes before they entertain customer. 
When customer wants to speak to support staff of a product or service it means either she is in need of some info or some action from support team. And most of the times it is urgent. When customer is calling you with utmost urgency and you want her to wait endlessly and force her to listen to your promos or on-hold music then it means you don’t give a damn about customer and you are making her irritated.
Automate as much responses as you can for the customer. Take care that just for the heck of automating responses you won’t let customer travel in zigzag fashion (like press 1, now press 7, now press 9, now…). When customer has chosen one particular selection where the end point is speak to customer representative give option to end user for call back service. As soon as your support staff is free they can call back customer and handle query\issue.
Call back facility will make customer feel special and will obliterate the need of irritating waiting period. You value your customer, customer will value you back.