In the last few weeks/months there were some pleasant experiences with people/companies I would like to recount:
Blue Star Infotech:
This happened some months ago. One fine morning, I received a mail from Sunil Bhatia, currently the CEO and MD of Blue Star Infotech that left me without words. I was informed of a tree being planted in my ‘honor’ at the periphery of Khumbalgarh Sanctuary near Udaipur (through an NGO, Grow-Trees). Retired from active service a few years ago and with no ongoing interaction whatsoever with my ex-employer, I was completely overwhelmed by this unsolicited gesture towards an ex-employee. What gladdened me even more was to see the enduring values established by the founders and ingrained in us over the years by successive bosses expressed thus in today’s times when such examples are rare to come by. More than the recognition for the individual, a gesture of this kind towards out-of-sight ex-employees elevates the organization to a new high in everyone’s perception.
Thank you, Sunil, for your kind sentiments – it meant a lot to me personally.
What did I do to earn this honor? Well, besides the long association with the organization, I worked like it was my own organization, a feeling that persists even today, wrought by the magic of empowerment and leadership, an example set by many a senior in the organization..
I learnt subsequently this was part of a ‘Grow-Tree’ social initiative of planting over 2,000 trees.
Grow-Trees is an NGO that helps individuals and corporates to plant trees serving dual purposes of conferring recognition on individuals or entities and at the same time building the much needed green cover on our land. From their site: ‘Tree planting creates low-skill jobs, and trees provide benefit to current and future generations, have a direct impact on carbon reduction, restoring forests, improving wildlife habitats, and upgrading water catchment areas, and offer flowers, fruit fodder and fuel for local communities and all living creatures.’
Coming back to Blue Star Infotech, how supportive they were in the final years of my career with the organization when my health failed me is a subject for another day.
The reason I’m sharing this episode is to highlight in today’s atmosphere of prevailing distrust, (good) organizations’ concern for their employees is not a myth – they go several extra miles to do what they can. It is well worth giving off your best while you’re at it.
Some years ago I became a holder of Citibank credit card and for some reason I cannot recall, a second card too though I was never a heavy user of credit cards. May be when I was not very alert I said ‘yes’ to one of those pushy telemarketers.
With two printed monthly statements coming by post I did not scrupulously track how much I owed on which card and when was the payment due. To add to my woes, the drop-box to deposit the check was way off my usual route for running errands or for evening walks. So payment defaults were not very uncommon attracting stiff penalties. If I remember right, the penalty was hiked to Rs 500.
In sheer disgust with myself, I guess I paid a lump sum of Rs 5,000 so that there was always a credit balance on my cards. Over the following months and years I shied away from those cards fearing payment issues and finally they were marked as inactive. And it was all forgotten.
Some months ago, out of the blue, I got a communication from Citibank informing me of a credit balance of Rs 5,000 on one of my cards. As needed by them, I posted a written application for refund supported by identity proof. In matter of 2-3 days, the check was couriered to me. No telephone calls, no follow up – just like that. That was impressive.
Of course I was too happy to receive the principal amount to quibble about the interest for the period.
Thank you, Citibank.
Unit Trust Of India:
I remember Unit Trust Of India doing the same for me some years ago. Again one fine day a UTI manager called up to inform me about a portfolio that I had lost track of. She helped me compile the necessary documents and redeem the holdings. It’s unfortunate that I did not think of writing an appreciation note to UTI on that occasion.
On to another recent incident where the fault once again was mine:
I had booked tickets for the family by a Jet Airways flight leaving for Chennai at 2-35. On the appointed day we reached well in time – I’m a cancerian. To my horror, I learnt it was an early morning flight that I had tickets to. The counter clerk regretfully told me it was a ‘no show’ and I would have to buy a fresh set of tickets (This part however is not ‘cancerian’). And there wasn’t much anyone could do much about it – she knew this very well because there have been other similar cases. When I pleaded with her it meant a big loss to me as a senior citizen, the girl was moved to making some attempts to mitigate the disaster. She had figured out some solution and went after it. With no sign of irritation or impatience she was at it for much more than an hour. Getting to speak over the phone to her back-office to confirmed the fresh bookings was not easy for her! The back-office was too busy to take her calls. She kept pressing on.
Luckily there were not many customers demanding her attention at the same time. The effort she took was amazing regardless of the eventual outcome which was quite uncertain till the end. She finally did it in a way that significantly cut my losses. As I said I would have been no less thankful to her if she had not succeeded in her individual initiative when the rules were clearly not on my side. I would gladly give out her name if I’m sure she’ll not get hurt.
Thank you, S….. and Jet Airways for empowering your staff.
Recently my doctor prescribed for me a new insulin injection supplied by Sanofi.
He gave me a sales contact who quickly arranged for a dealer to supply me the cartridges at a discounted price. The sales person also offered to fix up a house visit by their staff to show me how to use the new pen. I tried gently to dissuade him since I was quite familiar with the pens. He reiterated it would be useful to meet up with them and it wasn’t going to cost me anything. Finally I relented.
On the following day a young man and a lady turned up at my place. I was convinced it was going to be a waste of time. I received them with perfunctory interest.
In about ten minutes into the session, it was a complete turnabout for me. They showed me how I was doing it wrong for years and the right way to do it. And they had reasons for saying whatever they said. Finally they spent more than an hour going over the details for me. There was no skimping, no corners cut…
I asked the lady how could they make these calls at no charge. She said Sanofi had a field team just for this initiative and they don’t intend making it a chargeable service. And there was even going to be a follow-up visit in six months to see how am I faring!
Well, I was/am quite impressed. It’s a model other companies in pharma and other sectors too could follow and strengthen their linkages with their customers.
Thank you, Amit, Vaishali and, of course, Sanofi.