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Posts Tagged ‘Service’

 

Outside a hospital:

600400_10207514006700929_5639004389195404671_n

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.

End

 

Source: Adopted from facebook.com/groups/101024580247213/ posted by Gautham Iyengar (here)

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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

End

 

 

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.

 

 

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bowl-of-steaming-soup-01-300px

Patron: Waiter!

Waiter: Hi, my name is Bill, and I’ll be your Support. What seems to be the problem?

Patron: There’s a fly in my soup!

Waiter: Try again, maybe the fly won’t be there this time.

Patron: No, it’s still there.

Waiter: Maybe it’s the way you’re using the soup. Try eating it with a fork instead.

Patron: Even when I use the fork, the fly is still there.

Waiter: Maybe the soup is incompatible with the bowl. What kind of bowl are you using?

Patron: A SOUP bowl!

Waiter: Hmmm, that should work. Maybe it’s a configuration problem. How was the bowl set up?

Patron: You brought it to me on a saucer. What has that to do with the fly in my soup?!

Waiter: Can you remember everything you did before you noticed the fly in your soup?

Patron: I sat down and ordered the Soup of the Day!

Waiter: Have you considered upgrading to the latest Soup of the Day?

Patron: You have more than one Soup of the Day each day??

Waiter: Yes, the Soup of the Day is changed every hour.

Patron: Well, what is the Soup of the Day now?

Waiter: The current Soup of the Day is tomato.

Patron: Fine. Bring me the tomato soup, and the check. I’m running late now.

[waiter leaves and returns with another bowl of soup and the check]

Waiter: Here you are, Sir. The soup and your check.

Patron: This is potato soup.

Waiter: Yes, the tomato soup wasn’t ready yet.

Patron: Well, I’m so hungry now, I’ll eat anything.

[waiter leaves]

Patron: Waiter! There’s a gnat in my soup!

Waiter: It was quality-checked in the kitchen. You must be attracting them, Sir.

[waiter moves to another table]

 

The check read:

--------
$5.00 Soup of the Day
$2.50 Upgrade to newer Soup of the Day
$1.00 Access to support
$8.50 Total
Thank you and have a nice day
-------- 

 

End

 

Source: arcamax.com and openclipart.org [eady]

I just couldn’t get the tab to work, so the amounts appear in the front in the bill:-)

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As English is not our mother tongue, we do not always worry too much about what we say or write. That’s how we promise our prospects/customers solutions that are the cheapest, fastest, most easy-to-use…If for a moment we translate all that we say into our native tongue I’m sure we would never be so generous with the superlatives, hurting our credibility in the eyes of our audience.

Along these lines is also the abuse of clichés. In recent times I came across two such instances bordering on the ridiculous.

value-added1 pmtips.net

In Udaipur, a restaurant chain claiming to hold Guinness record for making largest dosa’s, proudly talked about value-addition in its mission statement prominently printed on the menu cards. I thought they’re in the business of delivering value to their customers in the first place which is far from being convincingly established. As for the ‘additions’ to the arguable value, of course there is no hint to where these may be found.

Value-addition rears its head once again at a least likely place – a IES school on the Jogeshwari link road near Seepz. A large billboard outside the school main-gate claims value-addition through education. Here again, I thought, schools are meant to create values in the first place in their students that become deep rooted over repeated reinforcement.

Of course, I may have completely missed the points they were making. If so, my apologies are due to them.

End

Source: Image from pmtips.net

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If you stay with me for a minute or two, you’ll know this is not the usual rant of an irate customer. Rather it’s an outside-in perspective of an interaction with your organization from some one who has been in the service industry for 30+ years. I’ve also taken the liberty of including some possible actionables (in italics).

Residing in Mumbai, I am an owner of Panasonic split A/C unit for a little less than a year now, recommended by the dealer. Happy to say it has been a trouble-free experience.

panasaonic

During this time I’ve had three interactions with the your company personnel (or those from your authorized service-center): during a no-fuss installation, the first service call within a month of installation (My friend, this call could have been avoided if they had shown me during installation when and how to clean the filters) and the third – the subject of this post – was a no-charge in-warranty preventive maintenance call offered by you.

As instructed, I called up the 800 help-line and registered a ticket. This was again hassle-free: a) every time, I was able to reach with the first try itself – may be you had equipped it with enough lines or there weren’t too many complaints flowing in:-) and b) unlike most interactive voice response systems that drive one crazy with a zillion buttons to be punched I was able to reach the person immediately after language selection. A great start to a user experience – all credit to you for a smooth process.

The youngster at the other end right away recognized the caller and was courteous in registering my request. I was told a technician would get in touch with me in 24 hours.

2-3 days passed, there was no call. I called up the help-line again to inquire. He – this was another guy, but mercifully there was no loss of continuity – assured me he was sending reminders to the service-center.

A few more days passed before I made another call. I was informed a fresh ticket was being generated now. The earlier one showed its status as closed for lack of complete information! I did not pursue with my line of sure-to-be-infructuous inquiry on what information was lacking and if so why did they not call me up to find out,

The next few days saw one more iteration of my calling up and being assured of reminders being sent. This time I expressed my wish to escalate the matter to someone senior in your organization – these friendly reminders were obviously not jogging memories in the field. The youngster was obviously not equipped to handle a request for escalation – my friend, please note. He repeated himself on those reminders and the 24-hour-call-back. When I pushed him, the poor fellow tried to be helpful by giving me the contact numbers of the local service-center for me to check directly.

So over the next few days my calls went to the local service-center. In the first call a senior lady at the other end sounded like being upset over my intrusion into the comfort of her daily routine. I dreaded at the prospect of running into her in every one of my subsequent calls. My friend, could you please ensure these customer-facing people are basically service minded (We all know not every one is) and trained for the job? Luckily for me it was not to be.

VOIP-Desk-Phone

And every time I was assured by the call-dispatcher I spoke to: the technician in the field has been informed and he would contact me. Apparently checking at the end of the day whether the technician had attended to the request or it was still pending for the following day was not part of the dispatcher’s job. She would know the job wasn’t done yet only when I followed up with her next day.  My friend, do they have systems in place to assist them in dispatching calls and track pending ones?

Coming back to my story, by now, I was in a fit enough to climb a tree. Before going to town with my story, I decided to give it one last resort try. I went to the dealer who sold me your product. To him, I painted your service-center in the blackest of inks suspecting sinister designs in those missed deadlines. He called them up and gave them a piece of his mind. A comic relief: in the same call the lady at the other end wanted to know my address from me. Why would she need it? She already had it as part of the registered ticket. Some address verification process in play? Well, it turned out quite unexpectedly: she did not have it with her presently to give the technician as her system was down!

The dealer’s call did what I couldn’t over the last week or two. Two lads turned up within a couple of hours taking address and directions from me after finding the dispatcher’s information to be incorrect.

I asked them if the management has changed hands at the service-center – why was my third interaction so difficult for me when it was not so on earlier occasions? I was told there was a severe shortage of field staff, this being summer vacation, hence the delays in attending to customers. In fact this duo was pulled from a different geography to attend my request. I promptly thanked them and the dispatcher in my mind for the initiative and explained: My request was for preventive maintenance – it was not a breakdown call requiring urgent attention. I was willing to wait for their service. If I were given a date and time even five days later, it would have been okay. My nervousness and the overreaction perhaps emanated from the steady stream of promises made and not kept. Was I being forgotten or worse, ignored for a reason unknown to me? My friend, please train the staff to ascertain the urgency for service and negotiate acceptable response times thereby relieving the pressure on the field resources. And most importantly to make good promises made and follow up until the request is closed. You’ll find many customers quite reasonable with their demands if the cards are put on the table.

Once they finished their job, I waited for them to write out a service/call report for me to sign off. Their response made me realize how much out-of-step I was with the times: ‘Service Report? What Service Report? We go back and close the ticket, that’s it.’ Brilliant!. An utterly wasteful step cut out! We all know no one at the service-centers or even with the manufacturers ever reads these reports.

Well, I’m sure many similar stories go around all the time especially concerning white-goods. What I hear is: Most equipment manufacturers outsource field support to third-party service-centers. And there is not enough money on the table for these guys to be motivated to operate efficiently and render good quality services. The manufacturers know it and are hesitant to push these guys hard lest they lose them altogether (significant turnover of these third-parties is very common). Rarely their systems, processes and people are tested, for example, with dummy customers. My friend, I don’t know how it is with you. It may be worth your while to take a hard look and make the business viable for these service -centers.   

To draw the curtains down on this story, all concerned know the A/C unit is close to end of warranty. No one is lining up at my door for the annual service contract. Not much in it for any of them, my friend?

Thank you for hearing me out patiently Panasonic. And pardon me if you consider it impudent of me to make those suggestions.

Yes, I forgot to mention: I sent a ‘Thank You’ message to the dispatcher after the technicians’ visit.

 

End  

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Credits: image from openclipart.com ()

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An earlier post (https://tskraghu.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/the-secret-saucein-action/) presented a few examples of how customer satisfaction/delight results when the end-point of service-delivery is empowered to act in response to a situation outside of the rule-book.

Here is a recent example where a misguided adherence to a rule-book resulted in a death that was perhaps avoidable. Please read this sad account appearing in Times Of India (17th Feb 15) of an accident to understand how screwed up our systems and procedures, followed by a short take on what/how end-point empowerment could have saved a life in this instance:

Hit by stone, railway commuter falls victim to cop’s apathy in Mumbai

CR Train
Pradeep Gupta, TNN | Feb 17, 2015, 02.35AM IST

MUMBAI: A woman aged 29 lost her life because she was hit by a stone while she was on a train, returning home. She fell onto the tracks, unconscious, and though help reached her within 30 minutes, she could not be saved because of the alleged obstinacy of a GRP constable.

The incident occurred on February 9. Badlapur resident Darshana Pawar (29), a receptionist at the Navi Mumbai office of an MNC, boarded a local at Thane. Around 7.45 pm, a stone hit her on the head, making her fall off the train ahead of Ambernath station; she was standing near the door of her compartment. Her fellow passengers pulled the chain, but the train stopped at Badlapur station. The station master was informed and he took the next CST-bound local to reach the spot.

By 8.10 pm, the station master, with the help of a good Samaritan, Madhu Birmole (was on her way to CST to take a train to Vadodara), took Pawar to Ambernath station. There, Birmole took over, and at 8.18 pm, with the help of two porters, brought Pawar to the nearby civic-run Chaya Hospital, where a constable from the Kalyan GRP also reached. Within minutes, Chaya doctors recommended shifting Pawar to the government-run Central Hospital in Ulhasnagar. At this, Birmole requested the constable to give her possession of Pawar so that she could be taken to a private hospital, but the constable denied, saying it was against the rule-book. “I told him her condition was critical. He told me I wasn’t her blood relative and so had no right to interfere,” Birmole said.

At Central, after administering first aid to Pawar, the doctors told the constable to shift Pawar to a better-equipped hospital. By then, it was 10.27 pm. Birmole again sought possession of Pawar, but the constable refused. Helpless in the face of the GRP cop’s attitude, Birmole left. The constable, whose name hasn’t yet been made public, left for KEM Hospital, Parel, taking Pawar in a civic-run ambulance.
KEM denied admission to Pawar on the grounds that there were no vacant beds, forcing the constable to go to J J Hospital. It was 12.30 am. Pawar was admitted 15 minutes later, but the medical aid had come too late. At 4.45 am, the woman succumbed to her injuries.

The GRP allegedly also did not visit the accident spot for panchanama. When the Pawar family visited the spot, they found the victim’s bag, with her cash and cellphone missing.

On the entire matter, GRP commissioner Ravindra Singhal said, “I am ordering an inquiry.”

Why did the constable insist on going by the rule-book?

May be he was trained to believe the rule-book specified everything that had to be. Or, it could be that he was hounded in the past for acting outside of the rule-book on some occasions. Or, he did not read the book right in this instance. etc. etc.

In today’s world, more often than not, it is impossible to anticipate every possible situation at the final point of service-delivery. It is very necessary to empower the agent (employee) at the end point to act in the best interest of the customer and his own organization. This empowerment and its scope must get enshrined in the rule-book, training and recognition processes and instilled/reinforced in the staff.

When does the agent exercise his empowerment? That’s easy to answer – to handle all those situations not specified by the rule-book. And that would be quite a handful!

Empowerment does not imply the agent is left to draw solely on his intelligence and imagination to handle a contingency in the field. For example, in this instance, the GRP constable could be equipped with a map showing pre-approved hospitals and which of these are suitable and closest to an accident site – this simplifies enormously the decision process for him and cuts out the crucial delay in rushing the victim for immediate medical attention.

[Of course the use of a map could be extended in many ways. For starters, a history of accidents in the past easily identifies accident-prone spots and resources to provide immediate medical relief could be strengthened near these spots. If the map is online and accessible to the cop, it could tell him about the availability of beds as well]

In practice it is quite possible on some occasions decisions taken at the end-points are not entirely optimal. Hounding the erring agents is generally counter-productive. Abstracting and propagating the lessons learnt from both good and bad decisions strengthens empowerment.

In summary, it is no exaggeration to say empowering the end-points of service-deliveries makes all the difference between the winners and the rest.

End

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Project-Management premium.wpmudev.org

There was a news item recently in the press about Tata Consultancy Organization (TCS) planning to lay off 30,000 professionals accompanied by words on the ‘big corporate for-profit exploiter’ from some of those impacted or to-be guys for the human element in the story. The guys, it seems, are largely managers with 8 to 10 plus years of experience.

The company has denied it saying the annual weeding out exercise would be only to the extent of 2% to 3% of total strength as it has done in preceding years.

Let us assume for a moment the company is true to its word and there are no compelling reasons of business downturn warranting a bigger-than-usual axing.

While the development is certainly unfortunate especially for the affected, it is hardly surprising. And I’m sure it is neither sudden.

Why does this happen?

When it comes to weeding out, the organization looks at the value an employee brings to the operations in a series of assessments. This is even more significant at senior levels as these guys are pricier and hence most vulnerable.

The avenues available to a senior (a project lead or a manager) to enhance his contribution are essentially in two directions: a) He contributes to the project he is managing/involved or b) He contributes to some corporate objectives not linked to his project. In many organizations seniors are mandated to wear both the hats to get more out of their strengths and maturity.

As far as direct contribution to the project goes, opportunities are many:

1. Of direct and high impact for the organization of curse is to mine the project/account to increase the billing incrementally/strategically. Or, to wow the customer on scope,cost, time, performance or quality parameters of the project.

There are a number of other ways to step up the value (not in any order):

2. Reduce income leakage by handling the lost hours.

3. Increase productivity by using tools, cutting waste, streamlining processes, etc.

4. Flatten the cost pyramid by substituting more junior resources in place of seniors

5. Get the customer to sponsor an incentive plan and other recognition schemes for the team. While the costs incurred in these schemes are low the returns are manifold.

6. Develop it as a reference account/project by putting together, solution stories, application/technical notes, and other marketing/sales assets.

7. Get the customer to agree to site visits by prospects.

8. Get the customer to speak in the organization’s promotional events.

9. Generate newer views of the project by formulating imaginatively metrics to address his pain areas. For example, mapping the change-requests to physical pieces of code would be useful in pointing out which modules are hit by poor articulation of requirements, lack of coding skills or sheer business volatility.

10. Reduce the hassles of dealing with the team in some perceptible manner. For example, cut back on the communication load.

11. Alter some service parameter to customer’s advantage like coverage/turnaround times.

12. Engage the customer to gain a business perspective and his plans, to support mining efforts.

13. Harvest reusable/training assets.

14. Validate and refine quality assurance/productivity/staffing/estimation/methodology models/norms.

15. Groom junior resources in technical and soft skills. In one project, juniors took turns to be present when the lead reviews with the customer to improve their reviewing, communicating and objection handling skills.

16. Stand by him by going beyond the letter during his crisis time.

I’m sure you have a few other ideas too. The opportunities are many limited only by imagination.

So what is holding you back, friend?

If the project is a dead-end kind offering no scope for any initiative at all over an extended period of time, it’s time to move on to another project or even organization.

End

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About eight weeks ago I subscribed to Direct-To-Home services from a leading provider solely for reliable service free of annoying breakdowns that were plaguing my cable service provider.

It was sold to me by a couple of trainees out campaigning door-to-door offering special deals. The facile answers from these guys to my queries about Tamil channels for my Mom’s viewing didn’t alert me on a day I was not at my best. Not knowing Tamil from Telugu or from Kannada or Malayalam, they were no way going to be right in their clarifications just as I found out later. I’m also going to forget the contradictory information given out by two Help-Line operators when I tried to add an option that was said to be included in the ordered package.

Fast forward to the present.

Over the last 2 to 3 weeks, we saw this problem recurring often – the picture would suddenly freeze on the TV and at other times we would lose the sound completely. When this happened the recovery was painful – we had to switch off and on and set the channel again. The ‘Remote’ was ineffective. Sometimes the MTBI (Mean time Between Incidents) was as low as 15 minutes. When this happened often on a rain-free day like today – we were cautioned right at the outset to expect short-lived disturbances during rains – I decided to ask for service.

Promptly I went to the site, did a month’s recharge that was becoming due and now looked for telephone numbers. There was no tab/link for Customer Service- obviously the thinking was their services would be flawless. After much panning and scrolling I clicked only tab that hinted to be of some use – the ‘Help-Desk’. I was offered a simple generic form that carried ‘Unable to View Services’ as the last option of a long alphabetically ordered drop-down list of subject types. And, closest to describe what I had on my hands. Didn’t look very encouraging. There were some documents available on the site for download – perhaps they contained DIY tips on how to fix? But I was not inclined to read docs. It was then I chanced on a Help-Line number helpfully included somewhere there.

Now to the next stage of the saga.

Help_Desk gsagri04

After encountering several ‘All Lines Are Busy On This Route, Please Try Later’ on the MTNL network, finally I managed to reach the service provider. Their IVR (Interactive Voice Response) kicked in. Subject to intense questioning by the IVR and wearing out the keys on the phone, I was thrilled to be informed of the option ‘Unable to View Services’. I seized it with great alacrity of a treasure-hunter finding gold and was told my call would be transferred to an associate. Only seconds away from success I gloated like a climber within a step of cresting a peak. My keen ears waited for the promotional message to end and a human voice to be heard. Well, I continued to wait and wait. The message just repeated endlessly. One more attempt starting from the beginning. Same results. Didn’t feel like trying any more.

The associate obviously had not recovered yet from the strain of his duties during the Ganesh Festival. He had not bothered to leave an appropriate response to the caller.

Went back to the web-site to see if the Help-Line had any time/day qualifiers – there were none. Sundays were not excluded.

So I wait for Monday to dawn hoping the associate had a restful weekend.

This is one service provider who never minded their customers saying ‘tata’ to them! If you get what I mean!

End
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Credits: openclipart (Help_Desk gsagri04)

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In my treasure hunt for stories on customer service/experience, I reached out to who else than Rajanga Sivakumar, a revered Guru on Hewlett-Packard’s vast range of testing and measuring instruments/solutions, and now practicing as a Business Excellence Advisor.

In this guest post he pulls this story out of his jumbo bag of anecdotes – my first success in getting him to tip over his bag 

[This is a real incident, the names of players, organizations, car models etc. not specified]

This was year 1998. Prem was delighted when the company informed he had become eligible for a pricier company transport. He could now get for himself the car he fancied – the newly introduced model Z of a well known international manufacturer (Brand A), to be made locally in India. In the pre-liberalization times, cars were available from the three local manufactures, their models at least a decade old. Even better the company was allocating Prem from the first lot of model Z assembled from imported kits (SKD) with no locally sourced parts. Model Z living up to its reputation, Prem and his family were happy with their choice. .

The car came with a prized accessory for Prem and his family – an audio tape player. Though disc players were also available then, the family preferred the audio tape player to avail of the large collection of audio tapes of Carnatic music they had assiduously accumulated over years. They loved to hear the music especially when travelling long distance.

After functioning quite well in the first six months, the audio tape player began acting up. In the space of about year and half it had to be repaired over five times at the retail service centre of the well known auto agency from where the car was bought.

Help_Desk gsagri04

Prem was very much irked with the frequent failures of the device and the inordinately long times taken to set it right. Now he asked the agency to replace the under-warranty unit for its erratic performance. And he wanted it done in time for his upcoming travel.

After many rounds of discussions and referring the matter to the principal’s (Brand A) HQ in Delhi – Prem himself participated in the talks with the principal – the agency came up with a solution: they would replace it with a new unit with the customer bearing 50% of its price. This was not acceptable to Prem and the matter ended there.

Argument

In about 3 months Prem retired from his current employment and joined a newly formed software company as a consultant. His new employer offered him the facility of a new car. He promptly replaced his model Z with model U of Brand B.

Also, Prem was consulted by the company on the different brands and models available for many of the executives joining then. Needless to add he struck Brand A off the list, the latter immediately losing out on sale of two large and two small cars conservatively estimated to be about a whopping Rs 19 lacs+.. And of course, it didn’t end there.

Against this loss what did the agency and its principal save to their (dis)credit? Rs 4,250 they had asked their customer to fork out.

A clear case of an easy opportunity squandered away, to forge loyalty in a favorably disposed customer at so little cost, through inept handling that was neither prompt nor gracious. Altogether a forgettable experience he did not forget.

And more importantly not seeing a customer as more than a customer. Someone out there had not been astute enough to assess the potential of Prem – for future purchases for himself and more significantly as an influencer in his circles.

While on the subject, I recall:

“Diamonds are forever
They are all I need to please me
They can stimulate and tease me
They won’t leave in the night, I’ve no fear that they might desert me…”

That was Shirley Bassey in the eponymous James Bond’s movie of 1971.

Well, customers too could be forever – if their experiences are right+ and sustained.

Thanks, Rajanga for the elucidating story.

End .
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PS: Rajanga may be contacted at: rajangasivakumar@gmail.com. The image is from openclipart (gsagri04).

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