Beleiver or arrogant?

Do you care enough to believe in things that seem somewhat unreasonable?

Do you believe in…

your people,

your project,

your endeavor so deeply that others find your belief arrogant now and then?

If your standard is to never be called arrogant, you’ve probably walked away from your calling.

Ideas and projects keep on mushrooming under the rain of beleifs!


Reality and pride

Sometimes people tell you that you are damn good. A good salesman or a good orator. You can engage people longer than many others. Or you might be such a bore! Not good enough.

Here is the challenge. Some people keep going at it until they are good enough.Others either give up or change course. For those who keep on changing the course more often have a great opportunity to discover something one day what they might have never imagined in the first place. Excited by the rays on the horizon they keep going at it more verve and passion. And they finally succeed.

Mind you, the most logical of the career paths that you read of successful people were in fact a series of trial and error as well as some forced choices.

So the key to success is to convert adversity to advantage?

If it were so simple then why is everybody not as successful as one would be? The reason behind that is some people refuse to accept the reality under false pride. If pride were to feed your stomach well, go ahead and go hungry!

It is better to be proud of achievement and eat the fruits of diligent efforts rather than go sit on an olive branch waiting for some hunter to bait you for food and then kill you.

I am in no way asking you to stoop too low by swallowing your self respect. But what I am actually advising is to keep pecking into your bark like a woodpecker.

How do you make people realize what they want ?

“What have you got?”

The wrong answer to this question is often, “what do you need?”

Invariably when someone asks what you have to offer, when they ask for a menu or a price list or some indication of what they can choose from, it’s tempting to ask what they want, because maybe, just maybe, you’ll figure out how to make that for them.

There’s always a shortcut available, a way to be a little more cynical, cheaper, more instantly understandable. There’s the chance to play into our desire to be entertained and distracted, regardless of the cost. Most of all, there’s the temptation to encourage people to be selfish, afraid and angry.

When you act like a short-order cook at a dhaba or roadside cart people rarely ask you for something interesting. Instead of trying to figure out what will get us picked, we might figure out if there’s a way we can sell people on dreaming about what we have instead. Have you ever been to a Udipi ? Take the risk of asking the waiter what is available. I promise you that you will be flabbergasted at the array of items he rattles off at pin point precision. And I also bet you end up ordering a conventional dish you have eaten before.

So I imagine that to give the people what they want, is nearly as powerful as teaching people what they need.Maybe you can dig in, take your time and invest in a process that helps people see what they truly need. When we change our culture in this direction, we’re doing work worth sharing. 

But it’s slow going. If it were easy, it would have happened already.

It’s easy to start a wave and get people crazy.Difficult to create a story that keeps people from crazy.

Don’t say, “I wish people wanted this.” Sure, it’s great if the market already wants what you make… Instead, imagine what would happen if you could teach them why they should want it, buy it, repeatedly!

The probability syndrome

“I’m sure it’s probably going to happen”

This two-part sentence tells us a lot about bureaucracy and the challenge of being in the middle management. I heard it many times  from hard-working but underpowered people in organizations that should know better.
In case you have started introspection and a rewind, there is no need to be upset at all. I have heard many Vice Presidents and CFO spoke like this. Now what does this convey?

The first half, “I’m sure,” is a statement of power. The speaker is trying to establish trust and authority with the customer by owning what is about to be said, speaking for the organization.

And the second half, “probably” is the waffle, the denial of the responsibility just claimed. Don’t blame me!

Obviously, the symbolic logic here doesn’t hold up. It’s nonsensical to say sure and probably in the sentence. But it’s a symptom of the impossible situation so many large companies put their front line in.

Either let them own it (not just the saying, but the doing) or teach them and empower them to hand the interaction to someone who does. You build customer loyalty and connection not by answering fast, but by engaging with respect and transparency.

But to be emphatic in professional interaction, you require lots of guts and no job insecurity!

Challange or Choice?

Surprised by unimagined actions in the most obvious situation. In a final over of a one day match a captain takes unorthodox decision to give the bowl a non regular bowler.

The agenda we invent and act upon defines our organizations, our work, and the people we choose to become.

When you sometimes hear in boardrooms, press conference or club table talk like –
“I had no choice,” actually means, “I had only one path that was easy in the moment.”

This is the world of high speed internet and split second decision. Just think about your recent browsing session on the net. Try to recollect just how many seconds you waited for slow opeining or redirected page to open. How many fractions of a second do you allow to a search engine? Dont you jump to an alternative? So how the hell do you expect your target audience or your customer to be patient with you if you are slower than your competitor.

Even when you maintain your composure to the automated voice message ” we appreciate your patience………..” can you really be patient ? Unless it is inevitable as if you dont have choice ! And if you had a choice ?!?

The choices we make when it doesn’t even seem like we have a choice–all of the options taken together, define who we are and the impact we make.

Last word: Respond before you have to react.

Elements of Customer Experience – Is it your Company Policy?

“Sir, it is not in our company policy”

How many times as a customer have you heard this sentence in your life?

I bet on an average at least 10 times a year. What does that signify ? that you are a very demanding customer ? NO.

Every successful organisation a set of rules and business policies. But if you were the head of an organization and an employee varied from the organizations policy to amaze and delight the customer, would he be praised or punished? Sorry only 2 options.

Of course, situations and services must be handled in a completely legal, ethical and responsible manner. But if the policy was violated  with a view to enhance the customer’s experience with your product or service what should be the first concern ?

Customer or Violation? Sorry again only 2 options.

I had mentioned in one of the previous update about Starbucks and their customer obsession.Here are a few questions for your self assessment.

# Does your organization think customer ?

Let me explain what I mean by this question –

  1. Does the Vice President/ Chief Marketing Officer possess a Superior Information about his customers? By superior information I mean you should know which client has what preference. You know their names and you know why they feel the way they do.

At a mentoring program of World’s leading agricultural services provider company for their LRP exercise the Head of the Marketing introduced to me his best salesman. I asked that guy you are the best salesman of this company who is your best customer. He immediately came up with the name of the customer. Then I asked him to speak for just 2 minutes about the customer. He could barely go beyond the name address and some of the activities of the firm.

That was in January 2103 and that guy has left the organisation in January 2015 ( the reasons and analysis in some later update) 

2.Do you practise Systematic Empathy. Systematic Empathy is the ability to identify the course of wind and quickly    understand the other persons feeling (or difficulty).

# Does your customer feel he is served better than expected ?

#  Does your company create a perception of value received (do you make your customer feel good?)

Bottom line

# Treat your customer as if you were going to see him everyday for the rest of your life !

The truth about sunken costs

It’s one of the most profound and difficult lessons every MBA student is taught in a business school in Financial Management : Ignore sunk costs.

Money and effort you spent yesterday should have nothing to do with decisions you make tomorrow, because each decision is a new one.

Simple example: You’ve paid a 10,000 deposit on a machine that makes shampoo sachets at a cost of a just one dollar or one rupees each. And you’ve waited a year to get off the waiting list. Just before it’s delivered, a new machine comes in the market, from the supplier’s competitor, this one that’s able to make the same sachet for just a nickel or ten paise each. The new machine will pay for itself in just a few weeks… but if you switch to the new machine, you lose every penny of the deposit you have put down. What should you do?

It’s pretty clear that defending the money you already spent is going to cost you a fortune. What if your competitor was smart enough to wait and will now buy the new machine? Ignore the deposit, make a new decision.

Which makes perfect sense until it gets personal. And the work we do, the art we make, it’s all personal.

Supoose you are Anurag Kashyap and you produce a movie. The final scene is your favorite, the hardest to write, the one that you sweated to create and film. But in all the screenings you’ve done, the audience hates this scene, and when you show the movie without the scene in place, the response is fabulous.

Now, you’re not just walking away from a deposit or some training–you’re walking away from your best work, from your dreams, from you.

Part of what it means to be a creative artist is to dive willingly into work that might not work. And the other part, the part that’s just as important, is to openly admit when you’ve gone the wrong direction, and eagerly walk away, even (especially) when it’s personal.

Yes, we have to have faith in our ability. Faith lets us do our best work. But successful artists survive and remain on top by knowing that abandoning our darlings is part of the deal. It’s the Price perhaps,  for success.

The best laid plans

As your plans get more detailed, it’s also more and more likely that they won’t work exactly as you described them.

Certainly, it’s worth visualizing the thing you’re working to build. When it works, what’s it going to be like?

Even more important, though, is being able to describe what you’re going to do when the plan doesn’t work. Because it won’t. Not the way you expect, certainly.

Things will break, be late, miss the spec. People will let you down, surprise you or change their minds. Sales won’t get made, promises will be broken, formulas will change.

All part of the plan that includes the fact that plans almost never come true.

Focus on doing the right thing, dont bend to please

Most brands and organizations and individuals that fail fall into the trap of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one.
There’s a huge difference between “no one” and “almost no one”.

Almost no one is going to hire you.

Almost no one is going to become a true fan.

Almost no one is going to tell someone else about your work.

Almost no one is going to push you to make your work ever better.

That’s the wrong thing to focus on doing the right thing to reach your target audience. Understand their needs better than your competitors. You will automatically win them over.Better to focus on and delight almost no one.

The chances that everyone is going to applaud you, never mind even become aware you exist, are virtually nil. Your business runs on repeat customers not mere admirers.

What do customers want?

What many organizations term as customer service is a mere processing of the  customers. Let me explain it.

Suppose you are checking into a hotel. You have requested for a airport pick up the car is there as you come out of airport. When you reach the hotel a cosignere greets you takes your luggage from the car. The receptionist gives a warm smile, even it is the first time, your room is ready so you check in. You just have to give your visting card and no hassles to write in the register. And there is colimentary breakfast coupen on the table of your room. Now a lot of you will contradict me, but this does not qualify as a service.

Because the entire flow described by me above is a mere process that the hotel is supposed to do for every customer , unfailingly. If they dont they dont deserve the business. Customer Service according to me is providing to the customer something which no one in the business is giving at present. And if someone does, you ought to be better than them.

Customer service is difficult, expensive and unpredictable. But it’s a mistake to assume that any particular example is automatically either good or bad. A company might spend almost nothing on customer service but still succeed in reaching its goals.

Customer service succeeds when it accomplishes what the organization sets out to accomplish. Google doesn’t have a phone number, doesn’t want to engage with most users. McDonald’s doesn’t give you a linen napkin. Fedex used to answer the phone on one ring, now it takes 81 seconds for them to answer a call. None of these things are necessarily bad, they’re merely examples of alignment (or non-alignment).

Organizations don’t accidentally run ads, don’t mistakenly double (or halve) the amount of cereal they put in the box. They shouldn’t deliver customer service that doesn’t match their goals either.

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