Monthly Archives: March 2010

Why don’t they teach you this in all schools ??

 Just Plain & Simple 
….. Helping Realise Potential 


 “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School” became a hit and continues to be a hot favourite till date. I guess its success is due to the fact that there are areas where one’s formal education needs supplementing to enable development of a well rounded personality. Sports definitely play such a role. Various other extra curricular activities add to the development process. In the past few months, like every year, one saw inter college fests being celebrated all over. I strongly believe that these have their own place in the educational system.  


Also, the earlier in life that a positive (or negative) trait is built into one’s personality, the longer one gets to ‘benefit’ from it and stronger is the impact and intensity. Family influences and early childhood experiences have remained topics of research for many scholars.


The reason I am taking this book as an example is not because it is the only and complete source of non formal education, but because it highlights the strong need for ‘surrounding’ and building on the formal education imparted in our technical and management institutes.


A lot of the content and methodology in these educational programmes remains ‘left brain’ oriented. Hence, strategy, logic and analysis dominate the courses. Behavioural and social sciences are looked down upon by many students in technical and management institutes. Even out of those who opt for these, attendance is generally low. How can I be seen attending these classes !? These are for ‘softies’!!


The fact is that for almost a decade after I started working, operational and people related activities continued to dominate my work. My discussions with many professionals reveal similar experiences by most. Strategic content actually increases much later. While the operational component may go down, people related skills always stay important. That is where a ‘right brain’ led input becomes extremely important.


Many extremists, observed someone, have a technical background. Left brain led, logic and rational driven thinking is more prone to radicalism. ‘Softer’, right brain balancing can definitely help in channelising the thought flow much better. As one notices in some cases today, is cut throat competitive spirit a manifestation of gang wars ? And back stabbing and ruthless politics ? ‘Influence & Inspiration’ become euphemistic expressions for politics, fear and hurting others’ self esteem !! Few are organisations that truly believe in and practice collaboration and a WIN-WIN approach for all stakeholders across the value chain ….. suppliers, employees, customers, shareholders ….. and competition and for society at large, rather than a ‘Zero Sum, Win-Lose’ belief system.


This approach to working together also needs to be developed early enough in life and unfortunately, our formal education curriculum does not cover this important aspect. On passing out from the institute, one enters a set up with people from different cultures and institutes. One has to deal with multiple stake holders and face competition in its many forms. Job changes take one through different organisational cultures again. It is in these circumstances that the social/behavioural sciences dimensions of education and exposure to arts and humanities in technical courses can be of great help. Ideally, such courses should be given due importance in our educational institutes and early enough. However, needless to say, at an informal level, sports and other activities as mentioned above, definitely fulfill this important need very well.


Inter college meets and festivals play the same role at a bigger and broader level, by exposing students to cultures prevalent in different colleges (each institute develops its own specific culture and expressions over a period of time). These allow students to develop operational/organisation and people interaction/management skills at one level and to experience arts in the form of dance, music, dramatics etc. at another. But more than that, they expose students to different cultures, teaching them tolerance, understanding and collaborative working in the process. After all, over years, the success and popularity of an Inter College Fest, is not based on who wins, but on ‘The Spirit of Participation, Inclusiveness and Collaboration’ that is demonstrated there !!


Again, these may not be the only and complete answers to the issue, but definitely incremental steps in the desired direction. All these are also critical to one’s smooth and efficient entry, adjustment and success in future careers, through right brain mediated secondary emotions that control the primary instincts of the mid brain amygdala. Absence of such a balance leads to social maladjustments with disguised politics and goondaism masquerading as Leadership, even in the ‘so polished’  corporate world….. fear, politics, power games, lack of respect for others and hypocrisy are seen so commonly.  A lot of wrong and useless stuff gets passed off as Leadership Development. Truly ‘Inspirational Leadership through Influence’ is the casualty then ….. and India needs a lot of it now ….. and going forward !!



JPS Consulting                                       

Just Plain & Simple                               
….. Helping Realise Potential
JPS Customer Value Academy  
Phone : +919810170678
Just Plain & Simple                               
….. Helping Create Customer Value




1,234 total views, no views today

My Experiments with Customer Service Part II

The Indian Optician, January-February, 2010 Issue

(contd. from the last issue Part I) ….. There was another chemist near our new residence. A much better laid out shop ….. much better stocked with a much wider range of products. This seemed like a great alternative !! We also became members of the ‘frequent buyer’ group and got a ‘loyalty’ card that allowed us accumulation of points which could be redeemed on subsequent purchases. They announced ‘24X7 service’ and ‘free home delivery’ on signages in and outside the shop, on the loyalty card, invoice copies, carry bags et al. This was ‘The Promised Land’, I thought to myself, very happy with my decision to have tied up with them !!

I started visiting the shop, shifting our required chemist related purchases there. One day, due to some pressing engagements, I decided to order for home delivery on the phone. After what seemed like eternity, my call was answered by a voice at the other end, telling me to hold on and that they would take my order in a short while. This was even before I could lose my cool and ask the voice at the other end, why it took them so long to pick up the phone. So I held on to my end of the line ….. 

To share how I felt then and how things shaped up subsequently, let me request you to hold on to your end of the line till the next issue and to try to figure out my feelings at that moment. Needless to say, you may curse me for my arrogant sounding closure to this article ….. and I must say that that is quite close to how I felt on being told to hold on to my end of the telephone line by ‘The Land of Promises’. 

Part II

Sure enough, the feeling was of anger, helplessness, despair. Many of you wrote back to me saying that you have been through similar situations and understand and empathise with me. Some even wrote saying that you were waiting for the continuation and wanted to see what happened next. Not that what I shared was something new or had great insight, but I guess it did strike a chord with some of you. We all are aware of the several ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of Customer Service. The idea here is not to ‘list’ down the same and preach in a didactic manner. No, not at all. Infact that is quite easy and simple. There are several ‘Commandment type texts’ on this topic. But that is not the objective really. That is, I don’t want to be and sound like a preacher. I just thought that through this medium, I could share some of the situations that I went through, some examples of good and bad customer service from our daily lives. Hence, the format is more ‘experience sharing and conversational’. I hope in the subsequent issues I am able to share more such ‘live’ cases with you. So let me continue from where I left in the last issue …..

I kept holding the line, waiting for someone to get back to me. No one did. The line got disconnected on its own after some time. I dialled once more. Again, after many rings, the call was answered. Some improvement this time though. The voice at the other end said politely ‘Good Evening !! XYZ Pharmacy, how can I help you ?’.

‘I want to place an order for home delivery ?’ I said. I was told that the person who takes orders was not at the counter and I should call again after some time !! I put the phone down and counted 10 (I was told by someone, that that is the best way to calm one’s nerves). The sequence of dialling and holding the line and listening to the recorded message (this was something to the effect that my call was very important to them) at the other end continued. Finally someone came on the line and I repeated my request for placing an order. ‘Sir, we do not have delivery boys right now. Your order cannot be delivered today. Can we deliver tomorrow morning by 11.30 AM ?’ the voice suggested. ‘But you promise home delivery and 24X7 service’.

‘Sir the delivery boys leave at 6.00 PM. It is already 5.30 PM. We cannot deliver your order today.’

‘Do you realise it is a medicine order. How can it wait till tomorrow ? The first dose has to be taken now.’

‘Sorry Sir, we cannot deliver it now. There is no one to deliver’.

‘But I am a loyalty card holder, you talk of 24X7 service, you promise home delivery. How can a big name like yours not live up to its commitments ?’

‘Sorry Sir, there is no one to deliver right now.’

‘But …..’ I started and stopped, realising that this was not going to go anywhere.

Why ? Why at all would anyone use Big Slogans and Lofty Promises if they do not wish to live by them, I wondered. The only reason I could think of is to mislead customers to walk in, even if it meant creating a false perception of what they stand for. But this is so short lived. The customer will walk in once, but if the ‘seller’ doesn’t ‘Walk The Talk’, repeat visits will not take place. Not only that, it spreads a negative word of mouth. Positives travel much less than negatives. In so many of my interactions with people, whenever there have been discussions related to customer service levels, always, descriptions of negative experiences have come first and have been more numerous than those of positive experiences. In a highly competitive environment, where positive referrals depend so much on service levels, they are also more difficult to elicit. The task becomes even tougher then !!

My mother had a knee problem last year and had great difficulty walking. The doctor advised knee braces of a certain type. I went to the same pharmacy again, sticking to the same store, thanks to the loyalty card and also because, as I had mentioned earlier, the store was well stocked with a wide range of product offerings. It was the first time that I realised how many variants are there in knee braces as well. One would have thought that it is a simple contraption, something that one pulls up upto the knees. They did not have the recommended ‘size’ in stock though. However, the counter person was kind enough to check with their central warehouse and promised to arrange for it after ‘two’ days. I called after two days to check if it was there. No luck. Another day and then yet another passed and I finally picked it up after 5 days.

To our surprise, the brace would not slide up to her knee level. Fortunately, the pack did not have a sealed wrap and she had tried only one brace, which also did not move beyond the calf area. I promptly packed it again and rushed back requesting for an exchange of size. Maybe I was removed from reality and had misplaced expectations. ‘No Sir, we cannot exchange it please’, was the straight answer from the same counter boy who had so ‘kindly’ arranged for the size in the first place. The pair had cost Rs.4000/- !! No amount of reasoning helped.

Stuck that I was, with no other option and the fact that I had to get the correct size for my mother, I went to another shop. ‘Sir, try this other brand ….. same quality, same design, same purpose and better price too’, the counter person said. I told him that I would buy it, but asked if I could I take it home, get my mother to try it and if at all it was required, exchange for a different size ? ‘No problem Sir, if it does not fit, take another size’, he smiled and said. I took it home and my mother tried the new pair of braces. The size was perfect, the fit was extremely comfortable. I never used the ‘loyalty card’ from the previous shop again ….. I never needed to.

More …..


JPS Customer Value Academy
Just Plain & Simple                               
….. Helping Create Customer Value

1,463 total views, no views today