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Archive for the ‘Customer experience’ Category

Living alone in Chennai, one usually frequents hotels that have built quite the reputation for themselves as those who have crossed over. Crossing over not necessarily out of the borders of the state but to North India and the whole wide world.

Such an example is Hotel Saravana Bhavan. They have crossed over to North India and locations in UAE, America, UK, SE Asia and many more. As it happens with the outreach, the traditional idli-dosai-meals menu now has a smattering of North Indian dishes as well.

What follows is multilogue between a bunch of North Indians who arrived to one such restaurant in Chennai for their lunch (I was sharing a table with them munching on a rather over crisp Bhatura).

NI 1 – “What should we have for lunch, bhai log?

NI 2 – “What else but some Idli / dosas? I guess they wouldn’t have any roti-subzi.”

NI 3 – “Or we could have a bhatoora (glancing sideways to my plate).”

By this time the menu cards arrive and the guests promptly start searching for the Bhatoora entry in the menu with no success.

NI 1 / 2 – “I guess they would not call it Bhatoora here. I am damn sure they must be calling it some weird name that the local janta can understand. Anyways if we can’t get it we will have something else.”

NI 3 – <Smug laugh>

Once the waiter comes to get the order and this happens –

NI 1 – “Chole Bhatoore” (In a rather sub sonic voice)

Waiter – <Pause> (Apparently waiting for the guest to tell the number of plates they would like to have)

NI 2 / 3 – “It seems that they don’t have it, let us go for something else”

The guest order some other dish and go on with it.

The interesting takeaway from this incident is three fold –

The guests are saying, without pointing out, that Chole Bhatoore though visible as a dish cannot be found in the menu card.

Also, despite both the parties knowing that what they want exists / can be delivered, they miss out on an opportunity to eat it / serve it.

Misinterpretation of silence is dangerous. While the guests thought that indeed their suspicions were true, they waiter stood there counting for the next input, in the form of number of portions, to be communicated.

The guests ate whatever they did not want to eat and went away. However they went away forming an opinion / an image that indeed this restaurant does not have North Indian dishes at all.

The irony of it all being, I was sitting there eating what they wanted. At one point the guests pointed at an entry in the menu card labelled “Chana poori” and remarking – “Probably this is what they call Bhatoora here”, followed by a guffaw of laughs.

And ahoy, we are not dead. -egghead

For the record –








Of course everyone around says that there is a disconnect between theory and practice. But when one melds practice into theory it becomes a potent weapon. Case in point – USAA. USAA is investment, banking and insurance service provider to military members and their families. USAA has an extremely good CRM which knows the family history of a customer when he calls up. Therefore if I was calling up USAA for a transaction, their database is so good to know that I have a son turning 20 this year. This provides their sales reps immediate opportunity to what may be called as “cross-selling”.

Cut the chase to India. I am not claiming that analytics is not being done, already, but I see great potential for certain service providers which I will elaborate below.

  1. Category 1 – Mobile service providers – Mobile providers are sitting on huge data which at the moment seems under-utilised. For example, I land in Chennai, for the first time. The mobile service provider for once knows for sure that I have landed in Chennai for the first time. They can send me an SMS titled “These are the 5 things that I can seek in this city”. If the subscriber likes the service he/she can subscribe to it paying some fee.
  2. Category 2 – Banks – I am just puzzled at their potential but still they are sitting idle. They collect our personal details to the extent of our birthdays etc. What are the potential – based on my age – they can create products or cross sell their existing products. When I am nearing the age of 30 – sell me a house loan (which almost everyone requires). At the age of 45+ – sell me a pension fund. Simply offer me a customised plan on my birthday. “We see you will turn x years old in the next five days, here is what Y bank has to offer on a limited basis to you and your family member”. Seeing the context, hell yeah, I wouldn’t mind it.
  3. Category 3 – Credit card -Analyze my transactions for the past year. It will reveal a lot about me and my likes / dislikes. If ICICI were to do such an analysis, books would clearly emerge as my first love. Do you realise the “cross selling” potential here. Infact aggregate this data over their customer base and there you go. Nice targettable micro-segments.
  4. Category – 4 – Any service provider who collects my date of birth – Customize offers
  5. Category – 5 – ATMs – Banks could analyse the volume of cash transaction on an area by area basis. Given that users will be allowed to take out cash from any banks, abstracting the ATM layer, banks can gain a lot. Suppose in my area, I withdraw a lot of cash from a Z bank where I don’t have an account. My own banker, Y bank, can aggregate the transactions in my area to see whether that is the case indeed with other customers of Y bank. If yes, then Y bank can open a separate ATM branch in my locality. Vice-versa if an ATM is not generating that much cash withdrawals, then close it down and open one where the volumes are more. Across bank data can be used to arrive at these volume details. Lot of inter-bank collaboration can be used, if Y bank’s ATM serves more Z bank’s customers, then share the data and charge’em for it. Vice versa hold as well.

Here is a campaign well done – CROSSWORD


Crossword clearance sale

Crossword clearance sale


Okay I am a sucker for books, accepted. Still the Brio offer sounds a good enough reason to move my ass and visit the sale. This is what I was referring to in transaction analysis for credit cards.

What are the implementational issues – in terms of software. What will be the issues? I don’t know. Whatdya reckon, let us know.


I must admit this is a rant. I must tell this story, however, about my experience with Domino’s Mumbai centres. This is what I wrote to on the Domino’s’ “talk to us” web tab.

I tried to order a pizza from “A” centre to be delivered to my place which is near Apna Bazaar in Andheri(W). First of all the centre respondent, after taking down the entire order, told us that they could not deliver because we ordered for four pan pizzas citing that its not a bulk order.

If that’s company policy – it is okay but whose responsibility is to indicate the same on the website?
We then tried four different centres to get our pizzas delivered. Finally we found the Jogeshwari centre who could DELIVER our pizzas.

My logic tells me Lokhandwala centre would be closer to our place. Anyways that could be the problem of your software. But isn’t indicating “that we don’t deliver until you order zillions of pizza making it a bulk order” Domino’s’ responsiblity.

WHY CAN’T THE CENTRE RESPONDENT HAVE THE COURTESY TO OFFER US HELP AND REDIRECT US TO THE RIGHT CENTRE? Where is your CRM in practice? If this is what it delivers – then it is of no practical use as far as I see. Revamp it. The point is basic courtesy is prevalent in normal life but curiously not in business. Are we customers from MARS?

PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS CONCERN ON MY E-MAIL ADDRESS. Otherwise I would think that this feedback is just another web – form. AWAITING ANY RESPONSE.

As you can see I am miffed but two learnings from this episode.

  1. Domino’s has a location segmentation that thinks Jogeshwari is closer to Apna Bazaar in Andheri(W) than their Lokhandwala centre.
  2. Forget CRM, I think the phone respondent could be taught to at least handle customers as humans. We are lost looking for a number from where we can order our pizzas.
  3. Why can’t Domino’s change their website so that the consumer can point out the nearest location on a map (that derives out of their location segmentation software, if any) and spews out a number that will get his order.
  4. If you are setting up centres that deliver only bulk orders, then isn’t it the priority to first apprise the customer of the same.
  5. Best CRM still is extending basic courtesy from day to day life to business as well.

End of rant and Amen!!


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Twitter is a great place to listen to what customers are saying about you and your service, online and real time. Go here and type in the company you want to listen to. After seeing this tweet (the micromessage in Twitter world) I decided to do the search myself and see what’s the world (India) saying about Tata Indicom. Here is what I found out –

“Finally got cell no of tata indicom service head. 3 days. said i was cancelling. now he says someone will visit by 1 tom. shameless really”

Day 3 of broadband outage from Tata Indicom. working on a dialup is just so frustrating”

Broadband finally up…had to escalate issue to Tata Indicom Nodal Officer…but good follow through after escalation.”

“Tata Indicom large file downloads being interrupted. No ack or resp to my mail after 48 hrs. Cannot even transfer my backup files anymore.”

Good experience with Tata Indicom Internet for past 2 years..unfortunately, it is getting bad..internet down for 72 hrs and no followup -:(“

We will be initiating consumer [….] against a TATA Indicom Tele services in Pune,one staff is acting as govt office, red tape..”

This are in addition to some kind words here and there. I follow the economist Atanu Dey on his blog. He also seems to have the unkind words as reflected above. Here is a sample from his blog

Not only do you get put on hold, but while on hold they have the most astonishingly irritating music that they play at an ear-shattering volume, and interrupt it every few seconds to announce, “Tata Indicom, the best way to connect to the Internet”, “We know your time is valuable and appreciate the time you have taken to call us”, “Please continue to hold as our customer service executives will be with you shortly” ….

At midnight, Tata Indicom terminated my internet connection. I had renewed my subscription three days ago and yet the connection was terminated at midnight. I spent the last half hour on the phone arguing with their customer service people. The facts are clear and agreed to by Tata Indicom. They did receive payment for the renewal of the service three days ago. Yet they terminated my connection.

We all learn that customer service is paramount and “graahak devta hota hai”. However here is a collection of some 10 – 15 voices from the web that are complaining about the service from a service provider and something clearly emerges that in the past week the service has been particularly problematic.

But playing the skeptic, here are the questions that I am left without any answers –

  1. Is this problem strong enough to warrant a Tata Indicom presence on a social media platform (similar to the likes of @comcastcares on twitter)?
  2. Are these numbers large enough to accept that there is a problem in Tata Indicom’s service?
  3. Is it relevant and necessary, in India, to have a social media strategy in place YET?
  4. Has the web matured in India that companies have to sit up and take notice?

However Tata Indicom being an internet connection provider, doesn’t it make sense for them to monitor the web for such “experiences”. Had they done it this and this would not have happened. That’s three clients (including me). The bad news is that bad word spreads and the good news is that the good word also spread.

“ouch.nd here i was planning on a tata indicom conn.dang” – One potential client lost

they just suck big time. looking for an option. need 2 MBPS unlimited bandwidth at least. currently paying Rs.4000/pm. Suggestions?” – One existing client lost

Customer equity for taking, anyone, Tata Indicom are you listening?