Saturday, July 31, 2010

Successful Customer Retention. A Case Study

I love my Internet Service Provider and Land line Company’s (ISPL) Customer Service service. They make my dull and drab life so interesting. They make me appreciate the value of time and generally remind me of... well, let me illustrate to you what I mean.

You have a complaint/query and you pick up the phone that has been provided "by" the ISPL and dial a four digit number. You get this short message.

Please press One for English, Two for Kannada, Three for Hindi which we will try to translate using Google translator.

You press One and get this message.

For Bill Details press, One.
For Internet or Broadband fault, press, Two
For any other complaints or requests press, Three

You press the number Two and get another message...

For Internet not working Press One
For phone not working Press Two...
For... etc

After half an excruciating hour later of repeated stress injuries to your finger, you are a connected to a Customer Service Executive, who asks.

Please give your name, phone number and nature of complaint….” and you faint in sheer exhaustion at the thought of giving the information all over again.

And you never dare to call again. See how efficiently they deal with your complaint!

If you want to change your provider, it requires spending half a day pressing numbers One to Nine in various orders to make a request. No one has done it till now. And I have no plans of breaking that record either. *shudder*

I value my time and sanity too much for that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Professional hazards...

3 pm and I am busy screaming at a vendor who hasn’t kept his promise of delivery yet again. The Internal Messenger pops up. “Cute guy at reception" says the message. I count the number of girls in the message. 5!!! This means in approximately five minutes 5 girls will make a laborious journey to the rest rooms via the Cafeteria, via the Sysadmin console, via the Travel Desk, via some cubicles and finally via the Reception to the loo that is in front of our cubicles. I decline because all I could think of was catching the sleazy bugger and choking his throat slowly till he died.

The girls near the target that is a meter away...

Girl 1 (aloud): And I have sent you the Excel with the metrics of the last event.
Girl 2 : I received it but I am waiting for that mail from Jamila.
Girl 3: Did anyone see Udaan?
Girl 4: Awesome movie!!

After target is out of ear shot...

Girl 1: He is sooooo cute yaaar!!
Girl 2: Hmm… yes in a boyish way.
Girl 3: True, very boyish but sexy nevertheless ;)
Girl 5: I have seen him before I think.
Girl 1, 2, 3 and 4: What!!!! And you went ogling without informing us??? *collective gasp*
Girl 5: Err… I happened to see him somewhere. I had no time to inform you gals.
Girl 1: About turn girls, I want to have a look at him again.

The girls about turn and promptly bump into me.

Me: Has anyone seen a guy with a gray shirt and white tie?
Girl 1: Yes!! He is at the reception. And he is damn cute looking!
Me: He is!! Is he??? Heh Heh *evil sneer* When I get my hands on him he will not look cute anymore…@#$%@!!!
Girl 2: Whoa... what happened?
Me: Arey! He is that same gift vendor Gupta, who has been hoodwinking me for the past six months!
Girl 3: Gupta? The same guy who called me ‘bery bery bootiful' on the phone?
Me: Yup!
Girl 3: Ugh!
Girl 4: He sent me a liver colored coffee mug with pink hearts for New Year! Ewwww!
Girl 5: Hey! Now I remember where I saw him!! Anjali was chasing him down the fire escape some months ago! *grin*
Everyone, looking at each other: Eeeeeeeks!!!
Me: Why eeks?
Girl 1: Err… nothing. We gotta go now. Bye.
Me: !!!!

Overheard as they walk way rapidly…

Girl 5: Looks can be so deceiving no?
The rest: *Gulp* Yes!

Music - Chemical Rush

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Close encounter with the government types

“You are going to *censored*,” said the boss peeping over the cubicle wall scaring the living daylights out of me.

“Take Kevin with you.” He said disappearing down the hallway.

“Why should I go to *censored*!!” I protested running after him.

“Because you met the Fisheries Director that is why!” He said without stopping

“So what!” I shouted furiously trying to keep pace with him.

“These government types feel good if someone from the company visits them. They feel insulted if the Business partner (Dealer) lands up for the installation alone.” The boss stopped to explain, before striding off.

I stared at the Boss’s receding back with a sinking feeling, walked dejectedly up to Kevin’s seat, sat down on a chair and sighed. Kevin looked at me alarmed. He didn’t have much client experience but knew from practical experience that if I came near his seat and sighed “he” was in big trouble.

“Oh god! Why does it have to be me?” wailed Kevin in despair. I grinned evilly, feeling a little better now. “We are going on a long trip...” I said peering dangerously at him. “A very long trip…from which I hope we come home alive…” I said sinisterly, before walking away with an air of mystery.

Next day we were at the airport at the crack of dawn. Me in a bad mood and Kevin in a pensive mood. The flight was uneventful save for Kevin trying his best to explain to his co-passenger that the picture of the black box in the brochure he was carrying for the client was a Server and not a refrigerator.

We reached the capital city of this umm State in good time and were met at the airport by a rather antique looking Ambassador car, polished to perfection, complete with white Turkish towels on the seat. The driver looked like a Naval Captain and I nearly saluted him. I was saved some embarrassment by his salute. That’s when we realized that he was the driver. The conversation in the car was err… interesting.

You coming from Bangalore sir?
Yes sir!
And you madam.
Yes Admiral err Sir!
You coming here for the first time?
No Sir!
Then you must know XYZ. Very famous place.
Yes Sir!
Call me ABC
Yes Mr. ABC!
No no, just ABC!!
Yes Sir!!

We drove to this huge dilapidated bungalow that was the Directors office and were ushered in by another government type. Thankfully he wore khakhi. Phew!

We looked around. The bungalow would make a nice setting for a horrible Hindi horror movie. There was a dilapidated staircase for the ghost to walk down singing a mournful song and windows that rattled about on single hinges. We wouldn’t have been surprised if a lady wearing white walked down the steps singing a ghostly song.

In the dim light we saw the fat and jovial director sitting on a nondescript table with a plastic drum next to his chair. “Welcome welcome” he beamed and shook hands with Kevin. I withdrew my hands when I realized he wasn’t going to shake it. He greeted me with a “Namaste” and motioned us to sit down.

After we were seated, we looked around again. The musty office consisted of several chairs, tables and cupboard in what once was an olive green color. “Do you want tea?” Asked the director cutting into our reverie.

“No, thank you.” we replied in unison.

“Then you must taste our Buttersilk* fish!! (* not its real name) exclaimed the Director.

“No thanks! We had breakfast!” we said politely.

“No no no! This is a delicacy. You MUST taste it” said the director emphatically.

The he leaned to his side like he was going to keel over and just when we thought he was going to topple; he straightened up with a wriggling fish in his hands. Before we say “Holy Fish” he bought the fish crashing onto the table with a bang. Scales flew everywhere. Kevin and I sat stunned, unable to comprehend what had just happened. I started giggling hysterically when I saw the scales in Kevin’s neatly gelled hair and chest. Poor Kevin was desperately fighting with the clingy scales on his face and neck.

The Director kept the half dead fish on a tray on the table and started reading the technical literature we had bought for him. There was no reaction from anyone in the room. As if on cue, a rather small made lady got up silently, took the now dead fish and walked over to the other room that I think was the kitchen. I think she was the stores in-charge. I could see her cleaning the fish in the kitchen. She left the cleaned fish in the kitchen and came back and sat at her table and resumed filing like nothing had happened.

Kevin and I looked at each other. There was no movement from any body in the room. Two minutes later, a quite soda glassed man got up and went into the kitchen. He was the accountant. He seemed to be cutting the fish and soon the aroma of frying fish filled the air. Now the dour looking man sitting on another table and writing a ledger or file, pulled out his desk drawers and bought out, one onion and a tomato. We gasped.

He pulled out a knife from another drawer and started slicing the vegetables with the precision of a salad chef. He finished cutting the vegetables and kept the veggies on a ceramic plate in the Out Box tray. Dour guy went back to work after wiping his hands and glancing at us briefly. Now we were very sure we were in the Twilight Zone.

Just when we thought the live demonstration of red tapism was over, the peon who was sitting on a stool at the entrance of the office got up and bought the plate of fish and salad to the Director’s table. We looked around. Everyone was back to work as though nothing had a happened in the room. My first instinct was to get up and run and not stop till I reached Bangalore. But this account was very important for us. I looked at Kevin and he looked at me. Both of us were looking very scared.

When the Director asked us to eat the fish, we didn’t dare to say “no”. What if the same people who enacted the chilling routine of killing and frying the fish did the same with us. Half an hour later, we left the office with Buttersilk fish coming out of our ears. To make things worse, the Director had packed some fish for us to have on the way. And oh yes! You guessed it right. The packing was also done with precision red tapism that I won’t get into.

Of course, we threw the fish packet in the nearest dust bin. We didn’t want to carry ANY reminder of the trip back home!

We are back in Bangalore and if the Boss so much as mentions “Client Visit” we pull out the Resignation Letters that we prepared with a vengeance the moment we got back to Bangalore.

Have a nice week folks!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nightmare on adjacent street

“AAH… AAH… AAH!!!” Moaned a voice from House no 14 in the street adjacent to my house. Startled, I looked at the house. It was dark, save for a blue light coming through the bedroom window. It was the house of a newly married couple. I blushed in embarrassment.

I walked a little faster with my doggies trotting in tow, to give the couple some privacy.

“AAAHHHhh” cried another voice in anguish…or was it ecstasy from the next house. This was a not so newly married couple’s house. I quickened my pace blushing, and was at House no 16 in quick time. I seem to have made a terrible mistake coming on this quiet lane at this time of the night for a walk.

“OOOHHHhhh” cried a voice from the next house startling me out of my skin. I was thoroughly embarrassed now. It seemed like there was an orgy going on in this house. Or my neighbors were being murdered or were involved in a wife swapping spree. Whatever the reason, the noises were disgusting!!

I reached the last house in the street in a 100 meter dash, hoping against hope that I won’t have to listen to anymore unsavory noises when I heard the blood curdling...“GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!!!!”

I smiled sheepishly and looked at my dogs. They were looking at me eyebrows raised with an expression that said, “So, what were YOU thinking huh?”

Music - Night forest

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Inter-party clashes

Heard this in the cafeteria the other day.

Some gal: Whose send off or birthday party was last week?
HR Exec: I don’t remember. There were quite a few.
Same gal: You remember, the one in which we got Samosas and Chips and Fanta!
HR Exec: Hmmmm...
Gal: The other two were the Black forest cake, Sprite and chipswallah party and the coke, chips and pineapple pastrywallah party!
HR Exec: That would be Nishanth I think.
Gal: Cheapo!!!
HR Exec: Arey! Why you calling him cheapo.
Gal: Whoever gives lime juice these days huh?
HR Exec (evenly): We organized the party!
Gal: Oh! In that case forget what I said. I thought he hosted the party. See ya!
HR Exec: !!!

Now I don’t remember from which send off/birthday/promotion party, I picked up this plate of Vada Pav and Vegetable cutlet from!

I am getting old :(