Thursday, March 17, 2011

Be Open to feedback

Today I had my skip level and it was indeed a glimpse of the 'master class' to come going forward.

As mentioned during the previous postings, I very much wanted to walk my talk in terms feedback in an industry and in an role where I am a complete beginner. My survival would depend on as to how much I would factor in the feedback I receive.

First few months were bit disastrous as I virtually did no sales. Then two of my colleagues did provide me with feedback which was a reality check.

While I have not done any wonders since then, I certainly have made decent progress ever since.

Given we are 15 days in to the last quarter of the financial year there is so much to do during the next 2 1/2 months.

Today's skip level feedback session was indeed very useful in that regard.

Let see what progress I make after this.

Come first June I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All the facilities in the world cannot make up for service deficiencies

We were shopping at a newly renovated and expanded supermarket recently. The place looks excellent, it carries the almost the full range we want. We certainly did our weekly shopping at the place but it was obvious that something was not right about the place.

It all came together at the point of checking out. It was indeed the service. There were newly recruited cashiers at the checkout counters. The manner in which they punched your bill you lose faith of the accuracy of the bill.

Supervisory staff and other staff at the checkout and elsewhere in the store did not have any kind of orientation towards customer service. It was as if that the supermarket chain was doing us a favor by selling goods! The manner in which they look at you, the urgency within which they attend to things such as weighing and finding goods for you and above all the feeling that they show that we the customers are a bother was just extraordinary.

Let us draw parallels with another outlet of belonging to the same chain which is smaller in size, carries less range. I've always realized that my basket size is 20% less there but we have no issues in shopping at that place. It is the complete opposite when it comes to service. There is much greater sense of sincerity at every point of customer contact right from the security.

Here's the thing. We decided that we would not return to the newly expanded outlet again but will stick to our known location.

However in the process the chain of supermarkets will loose 20% of our weekly basket value which will go else where. Given the special counters that they had at the newly renovated outlet such as bakery etc they definitely lost out an opportunity to up sell to our family and increasing the share of our wallet at least by another 5%.

Point is that might be smaller absolute amount to have lost out from ours as an individual customer.

Just work out the lifetime value that they loose from us. We as a family would continue to shop for at least another 20 years minimum and basket values will continue to grow.

Just to work out the math.

20years * 52 weeks = 1040 times of weekly shopping!

Now multiply that by the amount!

I only wish the staff on the ground realize this.

Like us I'm sure there were others who would have walked out from the place thinking never to return.

Now it's obvious that they have a serious problem.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lessons learned from a Juvenile Correction Centre

Recently I was in the Maldives and I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to a close by island which houses a JCC or Juvinile Correction Centre. They've started operations less than a year ago.

Children brought to this island (yes it is an island surrounded by the Indian ocean, with depths of 100-600ft deep sea) are ranging from 12 - 18 years. They are the most notorious with criminal background. Largely they do not posses basic literacy.

It was heartening to see the skills acquired by these kids in areas such as art and craftsmanship. Some of the oil paintings are of the highest order. Thats after 10 months of training. I was also encouraged to hear that two such inmates have successfully launched a commercial painting career.

Here is a successful model that has been puttogether by Police personnel based on a decision taken overnight.

It is interesting to see the level of softskills that could be imparted to the future batches going forward. Arme with such skills the inmates would be in a better position to take on different challenges in the real world.

Hats off to the police officer in charge of this center for a job well done.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Management blindness and loosing customers

Traders at the Maldives do have customer feedback forms just like any other hotel. But what's the point if you do not act on the feedback. How tolerating the customers would be and for how long before walking away.

Not too least only until a proper alternative arrives.

Traders at Male in the Maldives offer complimentary speed boat service from Male international airport to the capital Male which is roughly a 5 minute ride.

Now imagine this. You make a booking and specifically communicate with the reservations department regarding your flight times and request for a prompt pick up.

Situation becomes even more critical when your flight lands in Male at midnight, 00.30 to be exact.

Ok, they are not there waiting for you although far away resort islands have sent their boats for pick up. So you call them and remind them that you are there!

1.00Am local time they are still not there and you remind them again. You call them again at 1.15Am they still don't make it. What is an hour in the Maldives one might argue. Not if you are on a business trip with morning meetings the next day morning and not of you are the only tourist in the airport!

Fair enough, but how did they try to win back me as a customer?

Obviously I was mad but the guy who came to pick me up was arguing that I should have come in a earlier flight. The lobby manager and his staff (who were there on 2nd morning) acted so so dumb and clueless and simply said sorry.

No recovery plan at all.

On my account I have asked the manager who appears to be a career hotelier to speak to me tomorrow morning. Let's see in his capacity as to how is he going to handle my situation.