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Posts Tagged ‘Execution Excellence’

Here’s the latest addition to the lore of what wonders could be wrought through end-point empowerment. Obviously no procedure manual would be able to cover even a small fraction of the large number of field scenarios that occur in real world of customer service. Remains largely unpredictable.

Here we go:

(Lightly edited for readability and conciseness from here – there was no way to reblog the article entirely from its source)

The IndiGo Way of Delighting Customers – A Case Study

indigo-1

“Excuse me, khane mein kya hai?” (“Excuse me, what are the meal options?”), asked the elderly gentleman seated with his wife just one row behind me. The question was directed to an airhostess of an Indigo flight to Pune from Kolkata (India) on a July 2016 evening. All the passengers who had a pre-booked meal, or wanted to purchase on-board, had already been served with their choice of food and beverage, and the cabin crew were busy with cash consolidation and preparing to clean up the deck.

Unlike the passengers around, I was not really taken aback by the loud and out-of-protocol address, as I was already afflicted with the couple’s high pitched conversations in Marathi and Hindi throughout the first hour of the flight. It seemed they were not used to flights. They had even interacted so audibly with their immediate neighbor, an old formally dressed man seating by the aisle seat that I knew they hailed from Satara, returning after spending some time with their newly born grandson at their son’s place at Gangtok (Sikkim). Their son had booked the journey tickets for them, the first leg of which was from Bagdogra to Kolkata, and here they were on their last part of the trip.

“Can I see your boarding pass, Sir?” asked the air hostess politely.

“Here it is”, said the elderly gentleman in a Marathi accented Hindi and extended a card to her.

“Sir, this is the one for the Bagdogra-Kolkata sector, can I please have the pass for this sector?”

To this the man seemed visibly unsettled, searching for the right card with continuous ramblings in Marathi. His wife joined the commotion with “Just see how heartless they are, we haven’t eaten anything since lunch.” The gentleman found the right card and handed it over to the lady in uniform.

As I was finishing my drink over a gripping novel, I paused for a moment to watch the drama happening live beside me.

“Sorry sir, you do not have a meal booked for this sector. You had one in the flight from Bagdogra. However, if you wish, you can now purchase any food or drinks”. The standard pitch.

“Yeh kaise ho sakta hai? Plane mein khana milna hai to? Pehla flight mein bhi diya tha?!” (“How come that’s possible? Planes serve meals, isn’t it? We were served food in the first flight!”), stated the gentleman with a demeanor that said won’t-pay-whatever-hell-comes-up-you-better

The lady excused herself for a quick whisper with her senior, handing over the boarding pass to her.

indigo-2

The lead lady, trained to expect the unexpected, came to the spot in quick time and was straight to the point, “Sir, what would you like to have?”

Seriously, none of the nearby passengers including me was expecting this.

“Dekha? Maine bola tha na?” (“See? I had told you!”), the man said with a smile, oblivious that he was going to receive a free meal. “What do you have in the meals?”

The no-fuss actions that followed next were heart-warming. The lead lady served them 2 sets of sandwiches and mixed fruit beverages with a smile and a wish, “Enjoy your meals, Sir!”.

The couple happily gorged themselves on the food over a high-pitched conversation in Marathi.

I returned to my novel.

Even though the sentences in the book were running in front of my eyes, my mind was absorbed in something else. I was reminded of a talk by Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree Ltd…his point was on the right mix of process along with empathy in building and running an organization. All problems of the world can’t be solved by following the right process, unless you have an empathy element to back it up. It becomes particularly important when one deals with the most important aspect of one’s job, people.

If our lead lady had adhered to the laid down process, she would have rightfully refused to oblige the old couple with food packets. That was we had expected out of her. But when she decided to exercise her acumen of empathy, it suddenly made more business sense to all of us…Probably Indigo lost INR 500 (peanuts compared to their daily transactions) as a result, but what they gained was vastly in excess. It satisfied two old people without hassles, averted a possibly ugly scene, created many appreciating passengers, and made me write this blog lauding them.

“Process is not a substitute for building an emotionally rich organization. Process without emotion can quickly bring you down to the lowest common denominator.”

Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder, MindTree Ltd

Let’s not lose sight of the key enabler here: Indigo’s empowerment of its field staff – the end-point delivering the service – that encouraged the lady to make the gesture she did.

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Source: Amit Dey, Deputy Manager, Learning & Development | HR at EXL at linkedin.com. And thanks to Anshuman Deshmukh, HR Manager at Genesys International for bringing the article to my notice.

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On a certain December day, on platform 22 in Tokyo Central Station, a work unit clad in the red uniforms of Tessei Co (formerly known as Tetsudo Seibi Co Ltd) line up with military precision. A bullet train on the Tohoku shinkansen pulls in, and the workers, at the given signal, step aboard and hastily go about their work. The time is 16:56, and in just 12 minutes, the same train, designated Yamabiko-Tsubasa No. 147, will depart. Since five minutes of the 12 must be allowed for passengers to disembark and board, the cleanup crew has just seven minutes to perform their tasks.

Normally, notes Shukan Post (Dec 21-28), two to three workers are assigned to a first-class car, as opposed to one to clean up a regular car. In addition to checking for items left behind on the overhead racks and seats, they must flip the 100 seat backs in each car to make them face the front of the train, and while doing this, they scan the aisles and floor for any refuse, a task generally performed in roughly one minute, 30 seconds.

They then proceed to wipe off the table tops in front of each seat and adjust the window blinds. If any of the white covers on seat backs appear begrimed, these are exchanged for clean ones.

At the two-minute warning, they turn their attention to emptying the waste receptacles between cars. They also team up with other staff, whose task is to tend to the lavatories and washrooms. After a final check of all assigned jobs on their list, they assemble outside on the platform and bow in unison toward the passengers awaiting boarding.

“Ideally we get seven minutes, but when the train’s crowded, it takes passengers longer to disembark, and it’s rare for us to be able to get in the entire alloted time,” says Akio Yabe, Tessei’s senior vice president. “So we try to get the job done as quickly as possible.”

…But as Yabe puts it, “There’s more to it than just cleaning the trains. If the cleanup takes too long, the shinkansen trains will be delayed. So part of our job is to keep the trains running on time.

And a big job it is. Each day from Tokyo station’s four platforms, a total of 210 trains pull in and depart, with average intervals of four minutes. Each team of 22 Tessei workers cleans an average of 120 trains per day, and at times of peak demand, it might handle as many as 168.

Currently, Tessei’s work force numbers about 800, of whom 481 are full-timers. The average age of the work force is 51; about 40% are female.

…”

An amazing orchestra-like performance day after day from a work-force not pampered in any ways! Honest, visible and verifiable in public.

Well, this has drawn world-wide attention just like our own dabbawaala’s in Mumbai.

Should be part of the induction program at least in the airlines sector.

It brings into sharp focus once again the avowed Japanese culture and ethics  and inimitable process efficiencies at work-place. Reminds me of an old film wherein a factory-shift begins at 8-00 and the work-men are in their overall’s at their station with jobs mounted and tools in position all set to go by 8-00! Of course signing the muster included.

Besides, the story is an outstanding example of brand building. Note how even a non-core process could be made the subject of a story.

Leaves you thirsting for stories such as this from nearer home.

Going to be a long wait?

End

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Source: japantoday.com

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I am on a constant prowl to collect stories on what companies do to enhance their customer’s experiences employing a variety of different strategies.

While on this subject, not entirely unrelated, I’m reminded of the question of ‘Employee Satisfaction’ in a software services company I was associated with. The attrition of professionals in the company was higher than the industry average. As customary the managers including the HR confidently diagnosed the problem as one of substantial wage disparity – salaries outside were easily 30% or more than what the company was paying. Unfortunately this coincided with downward business cycle leaving not much room for any significant revision. 

While the issue of compensation cannot be easily brushed aside with the younger lot in software industry, I’m dismayed to find it occupying all of the center-stage to the entire exclusion of what other things could be done for the employees.  Mumbai as a city and software services as a job leave very little time for anything else. A good number of professionals spend 2 to 3 hours daily just commuting to and fro in crowded trains/buses.  Many of them hail from other cities living in spacious accommodation before moving to closet-sized apartments in Mumbai. Given this background, reducing the hassle of living in Mumbai is a strategy worthy of serious consideration. But that doesn’t happen. A few token steps are kicked off without a cohesive strategy on this theme, more as an apology – such as providing assistance in paying utility bills, credit card bills, etc.

‘Managers’ don’t much buy into all those industry reports that cite a number of factors up there besides doling out hefty increases in compensation for employee retention/satisfaction. 

 Coming back to customer experiences, here is a simple story on the same theme of making life a wee bit easier.

This is from ‘Through the Eyes of the Customer.’  James Watson makes the point in his post so well I did not try paraphrasing it.  

“…

I love it when someone makes my life easy.

CVS Pharmacy did that this morning.  

I’ve been taking an daily allergy prescription for the past three years.  Once a year, my doctor has to re-approve the prescription so  that CVS can refill it.  And that once-a-year event happened to coincide with this month’s refill.

 Pharmacy

So, I expected that  I’d have to call my doctor, and request to have  the prescription renewed.  Or worse, schedule an appointment to get into my car, drive to the office, and endure a check-up. Either way, I’d be forced to break out of my normal routine of simply picking up the prescription at the CVS Drive-Thru and do some extra work…. 

… so I thought….on

But when I dialed the local CVS pharmacy, and punched the Prescription number into the keypad on my phone, that friendly recorded voice told me that my auto-refill had ended, and that my physician must approve the refill.  

“Damn,” I thought… Here goes”….

But the next automated message made my day:

“Press “1′ if you would like CVS to contact your physician on your behalf.”

Yes!!!  One less thing for me to do, because CVS would do it for me; they’ve designed their customer-facing process in a way to reduce work for the customer; they’ve made my life easier!!! I was delighted.

Now, it might only take me five minutes to call to my doctor’s office and make the arrangements myself.  And a five-minute task done once a year may not seem like much of a hassle. Over the course of that year, it’s really not – except when it is.  Like this morning.

The point is not the CVS saved me five minutes; the point is that CVS eliminated a Task from my To-Do-List.

Most people don’t keep track of time as clearly as they keep track of tasks that need to be completed.  Saving a customer “a few minutes” may not be clearly visible to that person, but if you save the customer from having to perform a task, they’ll notice it every time, and they’ll precieve it as a BIG convenience.  And it’s the customer’s perception that drives their behavior and loyalty.

…”

I recall a similar experience I had with a mobile service provider a couple of years ago. I went in to purchase a replacement SIM for my cell-phone. When I took the form with me duly filled in, at the store they pointed out I had overlooked pasting a mug-shot on the form. It meant going back home to fetch a photo. While I was ‘Oh sh##t’ing, they made me stand against a wall, got a camera out and took a shot right there in the store!   

Whether the business is of providing services or supplying products there are opportunities galore to mitigate the hassle factor for the customer in his interaction, surely  a worthwhile goal for businesses to go after.   

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Credits:  jlwatsonconsulting.typepad.com/my-blog/

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The Road to Failed Endeavors is paved all the way with Execution Screw-up’s.

Here’s someone from the most unlikely quarters that got it right.

This is a 120+ years-old 5000+ strong organization, serving 200,000 customers dispersed over a sprawling metro.

Well, what is special about them?

– For starters, six-sigma like performance with 400,000+ transactions in a day, almost on time, every time. These are end-user transactions and do not include internal en-route transhipment transactions normally prone to errors. Contrast it with the hi-tech baggage handling by the airlines industry.

– No disruptions in a city where every political party routinely organizes strikes for whatever reason.

– Education of the employees: Barely literate, some up to 8th Grade in school.

– Technology: bicycles and wooden-crates. No documentation at all. Recently introduced are booking through SMS and a web-site to inform and collect feedback.

The wonder organization is the Dabbawalas of Mumbai – a subject of study by many management schools.

A dabbawala literally meaning (“box person”), is a person in India, most commonly found in the city of Mumbai, who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs), delivering it to their respective workplaces and returning the empty boxes back to the customer’s residence by using various modes of transport.

So honest and reliable that customers are known to send home their pay-packet through the dabbas.

What works for them?

‘Their efficiency is not entirely a management marvel; it is rooted in their cultural values,’ says Ramesh Kamble, a professor of sociology at Mumbai University. The 5,000 dabbawalas come from a particular community of Maharashtrians, hailing from 30+ villages around Pune, deeply influenced by the Bhakti [devotion] movement. Denying exclusivity in hiring, Pawan Agarwal, a senior officer of the organization says:’The only recruitment criterion is a ‘guarantee’ – essentially, a verbal assurance of the candidate’s character – by an existing member. Most people tend to refer their friends or family members who belong to the same community…Our values, inclinations and psychology are similar. So there is better understanding and teamwork.’

Bino Paul GD, an associate professor at the TISS School of Management and Labor Studies observes: Their tremendous sense of social coherence with the city – they live with their families, eat home-cooked meals and lead respectable lives – further contributes to the culture and the cohesiveness of the dabbawalas.

There are other management gurus who think it is not as simple as that. How could it be so? They see a whole range of management, organization and process related factors contributing to the impeccable performance. They have not yet discarded the phenomenon as unscalable and freakish.

Whatever, an organization that works unerringly amidst the prevailing chaos. Could it be emulated elsewhere? The Wharton study tries to explain why this story is not easy to practise with the taxi drivers, for example, of Mumbai city. Reasons cited are hard and long duty hours, unrewarding business, the fuedal culture and a life of deprivation for the migrants from the north who constitute a large part of the population, etc.

Interestingly, it also means the stellar performance is now institutionalized outlasting several different leadership periods. In fact leadership is not mentioned anywhere in various write-up’s on this success story. Are there more examples of such kind?

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Sources: Grateful thanks to knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu and Wiki.

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