Saturday, 20 July 2013

The story of the Valet – a true story

Ms. Kalpana is a busy Senior Manager in a large Bangalore based company.  One Saturday evening,  she drove her Swift car along with her mother, to a store in Jayanagar , Bangalore to buy some jewellery for herself .

She gave the car to the Valet for parking and went up to do her shopping.  After a few hours of jewellery shopping, ( who ever finishes jewellery shopping in a few minutes ?) she came back to collect the car at about 8.40 Pm in the night ! only to find that her car had a punctured tyre ! She was at her wits end, as to what to do ?  At this time, all puncture shops would be closed and she will have to take a taxi back home and come back the next day to get it fixed !

It was then, she was surprised to hear the Valet, that if she doesn’t mind, he would change the punctured tyre with the stepney in the boot !
She was extremely relieved and thanked the valet !

Moral :- It was the customer orientation of the team at the brand, which the valet too had heard about and made the effort to help out a customer in need of help !

Result :- She had become a loyal fan of the brand and the store, she has gone around the whole of her friend and colleagues circle sharing this incident and wows to go back to the store for all her future purchases !

Thursday, 18 July 2013

White Classroom Boards are now in showrooms !

A College Class Room!
For many of us, the last time we saw a black board was probably in our highschool or college !  Maths was probably one of the most difficult subjects and we often tried to learn maths by reading and hoping to remember how to solve problems ? Do you remember ?

Now, let us discuss how targets, incentives, schemes are being explained to us by our store managers, company managers ! We all seem to listen to them, think we understand, but when we are asked to explain what we have understood, we find it very difficult. Why is it so ? Then, at the end of the month, we dont understand why the incentives were not as per our own calculations ! Then we feel upset !

Hearing about maths and seeing and doing it are very different things.When we see the calculations on targets, incentives, discount calculations etc on a board, we understand the details better ! 
Morning Class at a Store
Hence, some smart retailers, have introduced the  “White Board” in a store for the meetings ! The notice board, typically shows the target for the store for the month, the names of the Salesmen, thei r individual targets ex. Kumar 5 lakhs, Krishna 4 lakhs etc their achievements so far (MTD ) and balance target to be achieved. This then makes each and every person in the store responsible for not only achieving his own target but also ensuring that the store achieves the full target as well.

PS: Some smart store managers, have made a modification to this model . Instead of showing the store target, the individual target etc, the language that is easily understood is the incentive. They have now displayed the amount of incentive a Salesman can achieve in that month vs the Amount Of Incentive AOI that has already been earned ! This motivates the staff, when they begin to compare their own incentives ! This will give an opportunity to the staff, to write down and understand the structure in our own way !

Call for action:- Try out this “white board” in your store and share us your experiences with us !

Remember to remove the board and keep it away from the public area after the meeting !

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Can you get Great Customer Service even at Rs. 7 ?

Just yesterday, I and a couple of entrepreneurs  from ( wanted to have Coffee. The nearest one was a “Road side Chai Shop”, that typically sells Coffee and Chai from a Thermos Flask. We ordered two Teas and a Coffee . When the coffee was poured into a plastic cup, I saw some black “floating objects” and said, what is this ? The shop keeper  immediately took it back and poured another one and then told me it is undissolved instant coffee powder. I was quite impressed with his attitude to exchange what was after all coffee .

His  Customer Centricity did not end there and when we asked how much, he said 7 each , but I took out a Rs. 20 note and was searching for a Rupee coin when he said, if we didn’t have change, it is ok . That is even better customer service  ! Making you feel loyal for his shop !

What can be the reason for good service ? Education, Experience, or just a good human being ?

Compare this with many other retailing stories that we have either experienced or heard about. Just check out or where customers have complaints on National and International Brands who have spent Crores of Rupees in marketing their wares to customers. Yet, when they have had problems, they end up not getting satisfied and go to “Consumer forums” to get what they believe is their due ! You are often left wondering why the companies don’t seem to have trained their staff in handling the customers with more care ! Infact, it costs the companies, any where between Rs. 300 to Rs. 1000 in India, to just get a customer to walkin to the store . No, we are not talking about the profit after a customer makes a purchase ! Just walkin to the store to check out the merchandise !

What can you do next time ?
So, next time you see good service, take a few minutes to inform the staff what was your experience ! He would be very happy that his work got recognized ! Often it is said, Indians don’t really appreciate enough .

But if you had a bad experience, then “share a few good instances with them with  your Gandhigiri”. May be they will learn !

Remember to share it either way with us too :-

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A Street side Hawker's innovation

Streets in India, we get see and hear, hawkers, with all kinds of things for sale. They typically, keep “shouting “ about their wares and before long, some home maker or another will come out and buy one of those things, typically vegetables, fruits etc. Most of the hawkers even have a regular route and so are their customers as well. A bit of bargaining goes on, and every one is game for it. Some hawkers dont go out into the streets, but stay in a "market place" like a mandi !

But, recently, I was out on the streets on my morning jog,  when I was  surprised to hear  a hawker’s voice louder and clearer than what I normally hear and turned around to see where was it coming from?   There was only one hawker way down the road, and it was too far for the voice to be so loud and clear !
Curiosity got the better of me and I moved to wards the sound, and surprisingly the hawkers voice became louder and clearer and it was obvious that he was not even “shouting”. Imagine, what he had very smartly done ! Look at the picture ! He was selling raw mangoes..

Instead of having to shout all day long, he had invested in one of those Chinese loud speakers, that runs on batteries and recorded his whole “sales pitch “. Now all he had to do, was to put it “on”, and let it do the shouting, while he concentrated to pushing his cart around and selling.

I asked him how to got the idea and he said, he saw this in a “city market” and thought of it, that he would be able to reach out to more people  this way, as he could not constantly keep “shouting” his wares for every one in the hear !

So, quite a jugaad ( ) of an idea. What do  you think? Do you know of any such retailing solutions.? In a country like ours, there are a number of ways to reach out and impact your customers. 

Join us to become an author of a to be released book, For Retailers, By Retailers, Of Retailers - Top 100 Ideas. or forward to any one you know..

Monday, 13 May 2013

The most important visitor on our store premises is....

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Mahatma Gandhi

These days, a customer can walkin to a large departmental store and be stopped only at the security gate  and there after go in and browse through the entire store for hours on end and no one else will even ask you how they can possibly help you !

The designation of the staff is typically " CCA" Customer Care Associate, but they hardly seem to care for the Customer ! It is not that they are purposefully avoiding you and doing something else instead.

A typical transaction and conversation goes like this...

A customer walks in to a branded area with rows of pants of a famous brand, and keeps looking, checking , feeling...

The CCA asks him " How may I help you ? "
Customer : I am just looking..
CCA .. Typically leaves the customer and goes back to what ever he is doing..

Customer keeps looking around, does not find what he wants, then he looks for the CCA who is now not available, then the customer walks off

Reason :-

It is not that the CCA does not want to sell. If any thing, he is dependent on the salary and a large percentage of the income is incentives driven and he wants to make the sale..

But the kind of training that has been provided is never adequate. Either the CCA has been around for hardly a few months, does not know English or is very shy of using the few words that he knows and has hardly been trained either by the Multi Brand store or the Brand itself, while the customer is speaking in English ( works in a software or BPO) . He feels in adequate if the customer asks any questions and cannot answer them back ! Better to " hide" behind some work of stacking and re stacking the racks .

Solution :-

Considering that the Brand spends so much on marketing to get the customers, if they spent some of the effort on training the CCA, then she would have asked a few more questions to the customer and answered his queries and made the sale !

Hello ..Brand and Sales Managers ! Are you listening to your customers ?

Why cannot you train your CCAs to give us, the Customers, a better service ?

Tell us ...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Why are National Brands lagging in the online world ?

Positive. ....

The customers are changing, and many customers do a lot of "window shopping, web browsing" even for going out for a casual dinner in their T shirts and half pants  and chappals ! They read reviews, visit websites, get feedback from their friends both online and off line.


At the other end, are Brands  working to meet the customer in the physical world with newer and bigger stores in new markets, new towns and in new malls! But that has not been enough. They are investing more and more in inventory, bigger and bigger marketing budgets and staff who hardly understand this new age educated customer...


Just check how many brands have their own "websites, mobile websites, official twitter and face book accounts" ? to reach the customers at the time of "Evaluation" . A cursory corporate website is about all that they seem to have , and that was last updated when it was launched !

Why are they lagging behind ?....
Are brands getting stuck in the old physical  world at the cost of missing out on the new age customers? Sure, the business might not be as big yet, in the online world and hence does not attract the management attention. The truth is very few "National Brands" especially Indian ,have understood the new world of mobile and web apps, social media and the world of consumer activism on the net ! 

The senior management is still cut off. Just ask how many have seen the Gangnam Video with a 1.45 billion views and you will know . Do they tweet, to they have a personal face book account, does the Brand have a popular one ?
The youngsters in the company who understand the new media, have little say in such matters to get the "VC type risk funding " that is required for large scale operations to take the risk...

Reality check...
Make a list of the top E Commerce sites and all of them are start ups by youngsters with out any link to the "established" brands. 

Wake up call ....

If Brands have to be connected with "connected" customer, then they have to be not only on the Linking Road or South Extensions of the Country but also on Web, Mobile and through FB, Twitter, Pinterest as well.

Brands, are you listening ? 

Share your views 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mobile Apps for Training

Schmidt on Mobile apps
If any business is not building a mobile application, they are not doing the right thing. People are addicted to their mobile phones. Mobile apps are going to  be a big thing and no company can ignore that. 

Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google, recently in India

Companies, big and small are forever promoting their business through newspapers, TV ads and everything else in between. With competition doing more or less the same, the companies are adding more money to their marketing budgets, more money to their inventories .

Yet, Let us come straight to the point. Customer Service is uniformly a big challenge to deliver across the country, whether it is a big hotel or a small Coffee Shop. Like a Optical Store owner told me today, the customer knows more about the product today than I can know. He not only browses the net frequently, he also compares brands, services before making a decision...

Old School of Business 
Why is customer service, such a challenge ? This is primarily because, the fundamental belief of management, is why train a person, if he is going to leave for a salary hike. At least the inventory is mine, and hopefully all the money that is spent on marketing will result in business some day.

But ask any retailer, the walk in to conversion ratios are any where between 20 to 50 % . What does it mean.. ?

A typical Consumer Durable retailer would have spent about Rs. 300 to get a customer into the store. A e-commerce retailer today spends about Rs. 800 to get a customer to click on their website. Yet, only 30 people who come to the store make a purchase at all..

If only, companies made the customer service better, chances are the customer will purchase the product for which he came, or at least a nearest alternative. Gone are the days, when customers just went window shopping for the sake of spending and seeing things. Today they have the money to buy !

Understanding the Salesman Psyche !

Today, a mobile phone is an addiction and a entertainment center combined for him. Often, an entire month's salary of Rs. 15,000 is spent on the latest mobile phone... Yet, this is a underutilised device in the hands of both the salesman and the company in improving his retailing skills and improving his lifestyle. Don't believe us, just Google retail training under Google play or the internet and you will be surprised to find hardly any content that is suitable for the Indian market.

Opportunity for you !

To preciously address this vast and under served market, we are building India's first mobile application based retail staff training module for various industries, on a pay per use model. Some thing like a prepaid currency. If the retailer  finds the content useful, he will continue to buy new currency, if not, he will just stop.

We are looking for content developers, mobile app feature plug ins etc to  build this nascent industry.

If there are veteran retailers who would like to share their immense knowledge developed over a life time of hard work, this is the place to share them and earn while doing it all from the comfort of your homes! or offices.

We are also looking for translators of content into multiple languages, both text and in future in audio as well.

Looking forward to hearing from you all about your views on customer service, and your own interest in contributing to this evolution in the mobile app ..



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