Monthly Archives: March 2011

My Experiments with Customer Service ….. Part VI

From the Crucibles of JPS Customer Value Academy

                              Just Plain & Simple                               

                              ….. Helping Create Customer Value

The Indian Optician, November-December 2010 Issue

In the last issue I had written about how Right People and Right People Processes are The Key Success Factors for Indian Health Care. I received a lot of comments on the same; people expressing their agreement with the concept ….. selection, development, retention and growth of The Right People. While it is important for most organisations and industries, I strongly believe that it is The Single Most Important Success Factor for Indian Health Care and allied domains, with the stage of evolution that they are in at the end of the first decade of this millennium.

With the fifth part of ‘ My Experiments with Customer Service ’ in this publication, I had thought that I would conclude the series. However, as I dwelt more on the subject of selection, development, retention and growth of Right People, I experienced and observed issues all around, where the two pillars, that is ‘ Customer Service ’ and ‘Right People’ processes are directly correlated and have a direct impact on the success of organisations ….. assuming that, primarily ‘customer value creation’ is the raison d’etre and will cause the creation of wealth for the owners.

What is important, however, is that the following two types of concerns be adequately addressed and their solutions internalised before any meaningful outcome can be expected  :

– “Once I train my people, they will get picked up by someone else. My entire investment will go waste. Then why should I train them ?” 

– “Yes”, there is total agreement, “it is very important to have the Right People.” But probe a little deeper and one finds that an understanding of the characteristics of ‘Right People’ is missing.

While the latter, in itself is a full fledged subject of research and it may not be possible to touch on it here, what surprises me most is the former ….. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you. 

In any case, for whatever time that an untrained person (whether new or old, senior or junior) stays in an organisation, he underperforms and that itself is an opportunity cost which one does not realise. An untrained person will remain a sub-optimal contributor for a much longer period (assuming that he will learn on the job) than it would take to bring him up to speed through developmental inputs.

So, development and growth of employees yields returns in terms of both financial investment and effective time spent on the job; motivation, additional commitment, retention and subsequent efficiencies are icing on the cake !!

The other thing is the kind of impact that lack of well trained people can have on customer experience …..

We, as a family, enrolled as ‘privilege’ members (obviously at a fee) of a well known group of health care clinics. The ambience, equipment and doctors are really very good. Rates are high and the usual greed of excessive ‘tests’ is there as with any healthcare service provider these days. While it was our conscious decision to enroll with the clinic and I am not blaming anyone or complaining about this, one does expect a ‘little’ special treatment, or say, atleast an acknowledgement that they do have members in the ‘privilege’ group. However, far from ‘acknowledging’ one as ‘privilege’ members, most of the staff is not even aware of the existence of such membership, forget benefits associated with it.

On one occasion, when a staff member showed complete ignorance about benefits of the membership, I asked to be allowed to speak to the duty manager. The duty manager’s response was “Sir, he is new” ….. “So”, was my immediate response, “you don’t train/educate your new staff on all the processes ?” It is surprising that new staff was not made aware of the programme directed towards a supposedly loyal/high value group of privilege members. I am sure the formation of this group must have been a part of a core marketing strategy somewhere on the upper floors of their head office in Ivory Towers.

But this was not the only time such a thing happened. I continuously sensed lack of education and developmental inputs at the staff level. So while a lot of investment would have gone in in building the ultra modern clinics, staff interaction makes me keep longing for my neighbourhood doctor’s personal touch and at much lower costs ….. If only the high end clinic could ‘clone’ (not proposing propagation of the same in technical terms) the neighbourhood doctors’ personal behaviour or explain the relevance of the strategy behind introducing privilege membership to its staff, my frame of mind would have been so different today.

And then there was this young employee of an airline which promises to be on time always and also lives up to its promise !! This was a stray incident when, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the Hyderabad-Delhi flight was delayed by several hours. There were angry outbursts by aggressive Punjabi passengers, but the poor employee, obviously had no training at handling such situations. That one incident would have put some doubt (rightly or wrongly) in so many of the airline’s (well earned) passengers’ minds.

Employee Development, then, for those who say “They will get picked up by someone else. Why should I develop them ?”, is nothing but creating your own ‘clones’ or explaining the relevance of your strategy to your employees, so that when a customer walks in, you can be assured that he/she will get the same treatment as you would have given, had you been able to be present at all locations, all the time, for all customers ….. Just Plain & Simple !!


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JPS Customer Value Academy

Just Plain & Simple                               

….. Helping Create Customer Value

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