Via: Skip Prichard’s (a coach, a trainer, a consultant…) blog here. Text in italics is added.
Posted in Customer Service, Excellence, Problem Solving, Quality, Uncategorized, tagged Amit Dey, Anshuman, Empowerment, Excellence, Execution Excellence, Indigo, Initiative, Service on January 16, 2017| 11 Comments »
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
“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.
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.
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.
Posted in Customer Service, Excellence, Innovation, Organization, Selling, Uncategorized, Value Enhancers, tagged Art Petty, Best Practices, Calls, Customer Service, Interactions, Problem Solving, Service, Service Provider, User Experience, Value, Value Enhancers, Vendor on September 14, 2016| Leave a Comment »
Every interaction with a customer including complaints is an opportunity to build or strengthen our bridges with our customers. Very often we find our customer-facing staff blowing away this opportunity that lands on our lap for free. To better understand this gift recall what we go through when we go out to engage a customer unsolicited.
And how do we blow it away? Usually by keeping our interaction down to a crisp and a minimal response demanded by the context. Technically flawless, business-wise not so wise. Of course at the other extreme, we might have a loquacious rep overdoing it pushing the customer to annoyance.
What then do we do with this opportunity? Well, there are several avenues to be explored: we could gain useful insights into his decision making process (why or how did he settle on our product?), his experience with competitors, his post-purchase impressions, what else would he like to see as features, does he see enough of our brand publicity… If it is a complaint, information about events leading to the failure could be collected. Did he have other issues/signals before the failure occurred? Does he have thoughts on how this failure could have been possibly averted? Of course what would work depends on the temperature of the call.
All of these cannot happen without orienting our customer-facing staff adequately, constructing different possible scenarios and outlining avenues for enriching the interaction.
Note outsourced call-centers are optimized to enhance calls handled in a day rather than quality engagement with the caller, at once totally eliminating this opportunity.
Incidentally all of the above apply to our interactions with prospects too.
Here’s a short well-written piece from Art Petty on this same theme exhorting us to have transformational interaction instead of transactional. A personal experience included. So why settle for less when its potential benefits could be dramatic?
Posted in Customer Service, Excellence, Job, Man Management, Quality, Uncategorized, tagged Best Practices, Customer Service, Inspiration, Job, Quality, Self-driven, Service, Teacher, Work Ethics on August 21, 2016| Leave a Comment »
Outside a hospital:
This security guard’s duty is to instruct people to remove their shoes.
Why he was arranging shoes in the rack?
“Sir, this seat is my office and I want to sit in neat office.”
He also greets worried visitors with a reassuring ‘Everything will be fine, your patients will soon go home with you.’
In all likelihood he would not have had the benefit of any level of schooling.
Source: Adopted from facebook.com/groups/101024580247213/ posted by Gautham Iyengar (here)
Posted in Decision, Excellence, HR, Humor, Innovation, Job, Leadership, Man Management, Problem Solving, Uncategorized, tagged Comfort Zone, HR, Humor, Leadership, Management, Problem Solving, Service on July 27, 2016| Leave a Comment »
At least to me, it’s new. Never thought the joke could be on us, not about someone from south-of-boondocks as I had imagined.
A policeman sees a drunk staring at the ground beneath a streetlight. “What are you doing?” the cop asks.
“Looking for my keys.” says the drunk. “I dropped them in the dark alley over there.”
“Then why are you over here?” asks the policeman, confused.
“Because the light’s so much better over here.”
The streetlights are our controlled environments where we look for answers —labs, classrooms, fixed timetables, and clear metrics. But things are more fluid in the real world. For that we need to rely more on tacit knowledge from our experience…
Source: conversationagent.com/2016/07/striving-for-conciseness-and-clarity.html while talking about ‘Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making’, a book by research psychologist Gary Klein, a pioneer in naturalistic decision making.
Posted in Customer Service, Leadership, Marketing, Problem Solving, Sales, Selling, Uncategorized, tagged Account Management, Customer Service, IT, Problem Solving, Service on June 2, 2016| Leave a Comment »
The anecdotes and impressions continue:[See the earlier post here].
There was this prospect, a prestigious name in the Finance/Investments space stacked with graduates from Ivy schools. Where, a study in recent past showed an attrition rate of 25%+ for new entrants in the first 18 months.
The assignment under negotiation was for L1 support.
The account sales executive found it difficult to get ahead with them. Like they all do, he shouted for help from his upper echelons. His VP threw himself weight in and was properly given a third degree. He returned from the meeting with his ego badly bruised. All done not in any crude manner – more pinpricks than slash and burn. The VP was reduced to wondering if he had learnt anything at all in these years.
VP’s (and others with him) mistake: He responded in areas clearly outside his professional as well as his personal competence. Knowing the list of local wines or why the British pound rises and falls certainly greases the wheels of commerce. Only if you know them right. If you don’t they are veritable conversation quick-sands, swift and lethal as the VP found to his ruin.
Our protagonist was brought in as a last resort with no real hopes. Standing before an audience with an intimidating presence and expertise and quickly realizing there was nothing much to lose, he steadfastly refused to be drawn into any extraneous exchanges and steered the proceedings with a crowbar of tact, back to the assignment on hand. He had no compunction professing his ignorance outright on anything outside while not yielding any quarters in his area of expertise. It was established the L1 support could be arranged with less-than-an-army-of-Ivy grads much more cost effectively. His straight-shooting approach paid off immediately with the contract being awarded to his organization.
He is quick to add: these anecdotes are more to present a flavor of situations the field throws up and different approaches used by him in tackling the same. With no claims as sure-fire prescriptions for all cases.
As we talked about this and that, he had this to say about his managers at remote (read nearshore/offshore). While these appear damning and were made in specific context, I’ve seen them happen elsewhere too that I decided to capture them for some of you to check if…
– The bosses in many cases are largely spreadsheet managers without a feel for what happens out in the field. Reminds me of Liam Neeson’s words in the movie ‘Taken’: “You lost the ability to tell whether the gun is loaded; too much time spent doing the desk job”.
– ‘Do these numbers. And if you’re asking me ‘how?’ I don’t need you’ is often the unsaid refrain.
– The online discussions are such a waste – the remote guys have all the time and resources to indulge in these till the cows come home.
– When these dignitaries visit the field, they insist on being taken to my customers. When I do, they’ve little value to add. Their talk is inane, irrelevant and sometimes even self-promoting, eliciting hardly anything useful from the customer.
– They’re more apt to tell my customer how best to run his business more than hearing him out and taking it from there.
I hear many of you say ‘hey. that’s not us’. Nevertheless, it pays to be on guard.