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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

They all have small feet!

How else could they get into other people’s shoes 🙂

In his article ‘Empathy Is The Key To Innovation’ Baruch Sachs assertively identifies a key ingredient for innovation:

“…Every great innovation has come from a place of empathy. This makes great sense because innovation is so often borne out of someone’s frustration with the current way or state of things. For example, Steve Jobs was frustrated that he could not carry his library of music around in his pocket. He thought others might share his frustration. His answer? The iPod.

Ride-sharing services were borne out of people’s frustration with the overall taxi experience. All of the innovations that Uber, Lyft, and others have created through their technology and services have come from a place of empathy. These are just two examples showing how empathy has driven tremendous innovations that have shaped the lives of millions of people…”

And yet “… Empathy is the single most-overlooked ingredient of innovation. This is a huge problem because empathy is a critical ingredient of ensuring successful innovation…”

Design thinking and other methodologies by themselves will not take the org far in innovation in absence of empathy.

So you know now who is the most likely to drive innovation in your org.

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Image from cio.com

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“Good service design is important for the overall user experience. Yet, it is even more important at the end of an experience (or exposure to a brand) due to the Peak-End Rule and Recency Effect. Placing the business needs before the user’s needs, breaking the user’s flow and not addressing a user’s need at the point of their need are primary culprits in designing a poor experience.”

Chris Kiess writes in his article “Service Design — How to Fail at the Checkout and Ruin Your User’s End Experience” appearing here.

While he talks about “8 ways I see retail merchants like Target, Walmart or Meijer fail in service design as it relates to the end of the customer experience and the final impression they make with consumers,” there’s an interesting snippet about a negative perception and how it could be turned around.

First about the perception:

“The biggest faux pas of superstores is having too many checkout registers and not enough cashiers. Most people would probably not be concerned during the holidays (or any other time) if they sauntered over to the checkout and there were ten cashiers at all ten registers with lines behind each. This would give the customer the illusion the store is busy and they are doing everything they can to help customers move through the checkout process. But, what generally happens instead is you walk up to the checkout area after finding everything you need and there are thirty registers with only five in service. This, I cannot understand. On the surface, it gives the impression the store could do more. After all, there are twenty-five more registers and surely they could open one or two more of them. It boggles the mind that a store would feel the need to install thirty checkout lanes and never use them all at one time.”

He suggests:

“This is largely about human perception. The simple fix is to cut the number of registers installed and use a greater percentage of them during busy times. This would give the impression (and shape perceptions) a greater effort is being employed to move people through the lines.”

A thought:

The suggestion could still leave at times a few unattended counters. So why not have counters that could be rolled in from back of the store on need basis and wheeled away when done? Just as many as needed, leaving no visibly unattended counters at any time.

Also could the stores do like the airlines doing in-line check-in with staff going around with their special devices? Of course, it needs some adaption to allow for handling the purchases in the cart.

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Image from here.

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Went to a well-known shop in Chennai this morning to buy sweets for Mumbai friends.

On the glass-door at the entrance was this message greeting customers:

Am given to twisting and turning in my mind messages leaping at me. Nice amusing game while it lasts. So it was this time too. Went up to the manager and suggested a word, just a word, may be added to the message to make it…

He thought for a moment and broke into a smile when it hit him. He said he’ll get it done which I doubt very much.

Anyway, here’s the suggestion made:

While welcoming all customers, new and old, light is now specially shone on the repeat customer – the most sought-after in any commerce. Hinting at habit forming?

Adds an engaging dash of intrigue: Why do they come again? Unique fare, good prices, courteous staff, nice ambiance…some tribal knowledge to flaunt when in company?

To think a mere adverb, usually trite and superfluous, could work a magic on the message!

The nice little game left me feeling good for a short while.

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Even If It’s Hard Work And An Unvarying Routine?

Check this out:

vide Rubi Navaratnam and Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan 

Go here if the clip doesn’t show.

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He was an efficient heads-down, nose-to-the-wheel, eyes-on-the-ball manager of the operations, executing projects on time, using resources optimally…a relentless pusher.

But then he just did not have it in him to inspire his people to perform beyond the expected, pursue worthwhile challenges….Saw the projects as something to be completed and move on. What excitement, eh?

Quite convinced about the soundness of his views and approach.

Some of the best guys were ground down to mediocrity under his heavily task oriented leadership – they were hardly aware of what was happening.

Such managers are found in plenty especially in software industry. More so at senior levels.

Instead of dismissing them managers as misfit – their task orientation is abs necessary in projects – it may be a better approach to address the paradox by strengthening the structure with additional resources to inject excitement, innovation and challenge into projects. Resulting conflicts if any are not unmanageable if the manager gets the perspective right.  

A question may arise: are we unnecessarily and unfairly complicating the poor manager’s life with unreasonable expectations on excitement, innovation and challenge?

These are no longer nice-to-have’s. They serve multiple purposes of a) delivering enhanced value to the customer, b) keeping the professionals engaged and absorbed – does enormous good for employee motivation and retention and c) building expertise, reusable production and marketing assets…

In fact every project is a great opportunity for the org to profit by the above.

You still think it’s a choice?

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If Indian Railways can pull this off…

  • An government organization, pan-India, managing a mind-boggling 67 K+ route-miles over 144 K+ bridges, with 7300+ stations and a rolling stock of 11 K+ locos, 64 K+ passenger carriages and 277 K freight cars/wagons, not mentioning workshops, repair sheds…
  • With a much maligned, grossly underpaid, not-the- upper-class staff of 1.3 million…
  • Can keep it all going every day of the year…
  • Running on a tight budget with little flexibility to hand out carrots…

Inspires the locals to achieve this,

What is your excuse?

Read here:   

“

Mithila artists transform local railway station with traditional Madhubani art

The Madhubani Railway station, in Bihar just got a makeover. One of the oldest rail stations in India near Patna is now attracting tourists after hundreds of local Mithila artists adorned the walls of the station with world-famous Madhubani paintings – scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata among other things.

The excruciating work was undertaken as a Swachh Bharat mission and has been done free of cost as ‘Shramdaan’ in an attempt to promote the traditional art form besides beautifying the station, the largest of its kind and first in Bihar. At least 7,000 sqft area at this Bihar station under the East Central Railway (ECR) has been decked up in about 20 days, railways supplying paints and brushes. (Source: DRM Samastipur/ Twitter )

The colourful Madhubani painting is quite unique with its signature geometrical patterns and motifs.

Many young artists volunteered for the project who have been learning the ancient artwork since childhood, their families in this trade for generations.

A wedding ritual.

From walls at the stations to sign boards at the platforms, this is no less than a wonderland!

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Source: Indian Express, etc.

S. Mani, a senior ex-colleague and a good friend responded with the info that the railway station at Pandavapura (Karnataka) where he resides too is embellished with beautiful paintings focusing on the tourist spots around, at the initiative of the Station Master Shri Madhu hailing from Trichy. A few of the snaps sent by SM:

Thanks, SM.

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Leaving aside the party politics for the moment, it’s still an amazing case of innovative problem solving and communication the corporate’s would do well to look at its merit.

ToiletThis is election time in India with parties engaged in a fierce fight over voters’ mind-share.

The above is a message in this tussle coming from Prime-Minister Modi’s party BJP.

On the left is a panel depicting the state-of-affairs under the rule of the Congress Party that held sway for most years since independence, dominated by the Nehru family. It shows a man relieving himself publicly under a sign-board admonishing Don’t commit nuisance here‘. On the right is a panel intended to show the transformation achieved over last 55 months of BJP’s  rule. Here the sign points the offender-to-be to Use the toilet 50 feet away from the spot!

The difference in the approaches of problem-solving and its communication is so stark and brilliant!

Of course, it’s another matter to independently check on what the ground reality is.. Though the official claim is: 1.31 crores of public facilities were constructed in the state of Tamil Nadu during those 55 months of their rule under the Swatch Bharat campaign.

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