Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A customer comments again.....Service Goes for a Toss!

Customer is the undisputed king.In a world full of options with competitors vying for the mind followed by market share, no players, be it from product manufacturing or the economic driver of services sector can afford to take the customer for granted.The options available to voice out his dissatisfaction for the disgruntled customer are a plenty, thereby resulting in a cascading negative word of mouth publicity all around.It was the late evening of 15th November 2010 when yours truly decided to come to India from Oman to celebrate three days Eid Holidays with family, friends and well-wisher. As it was a planned visit the customer didn't hesitate to have an advanced booking for the travel with chances of minor alteration once the exact dates are announced.Most of the passenger travelling world wide by air would vouch for their native flag carrier as it gives them solace and satisfaction and sensible few would even think that his own small contribution would find its way into the national exchequer.That, the passengers are compelled to competing carriers owing to the poor quality of services by the national carrier, culminating in being a frequent flier with foreign airlines is indeed a shame for the national or even private carrier of a country.Same was the case with yours truly while he boarded IC886 from Muscat to New Delhi.He was given a window seat and unlike most of the private carrier or rather a regular exercise by all carriers, none of the flight attendant even bothered to come along and explain the nuances, the responsibilities and management of a seat next to the emergency exit.Air India staff were their normal reluctant self with very less of a services led mindset.It was evident that even a 'smile' was hard to come by.To the wonder of all the passengers, the airline provided an old obsolete aircraft,sans televisions, and with many of the AC duct not working including the one at 11F, where yours truly was seated.Repeated requests fell on deaf ears and the least interested lot of old, reluctant air-hostess started giving frailed responses with one saying, no other seats available for a swap, the second voicing her confidence of things falling into place once the plane takes off!Nothing of that sort happened and when yours truly retorted back saying her promise of everything would work after take-off didn't materialize, she was taken aback.After all IC and Air India are not used to such harsh questions from the passengers as most of them travel out of compulsion(read absence of tickets in other airline during festivities, thereby accepting the status-quo)or the passengers generally comprises of people who are semi-literate or at times even illiterate to question the quality of services, the legitimate rights as a passenger/customer and allied activities therein.The second instance which was even more dangerous to witness as a passenger, was when a fellow passenger occupying the seat 10F showed the air hostess the broken inside window pane next to his seat. She immediately called an IC personnel seated in the business class and he assured not to worry as there are two more linings!No wonder why so many air mishaps are averted at the last moment or few actually takes place involving the national carrier of India or its subsidiaries!On the top of it, the flag carrier seem to believe that the gulf market which has been a cash cow for them, would continue to be the same, irrespective of services level enhancement.Wishful thinking as slowly and gradually the market dynamics is changing with more Indian private carriers flying in, not to forget a wide range of world class GCC based carriers.How can Air India and its subsidiaries turnaround a multi crore loss making entity even when small but important things those can facilitate that change is not in place?The mindset of the employees from the top to bottom of the fledgling carrier is a typical that of an India PSU mentality which displays arrogance and 'I don't Care' or 'Chalta Hain'attitude.Indian aviation ministry along with the PMO is fooling Indian citizens by doling out huge public money to the ailing carrier, only to use it as their own fiefdom for their so called professional but personal visits of their OWN choice!The only accolade the airline can deserve is for their quality food and beverages served on board and for a change their fast turnaround time with on time arrival and departure.Was that an exception or a routine, only time can TELL!
A word or two about the much hyped Terminal 3 of IGI International Airport.The architectural beauty resembling the World Class Dubai Airport in terms of interior, offered a sorry figure as it was resembling a typical Indian fish market with passengers running helter-skelter.Surprisingly most of the immigration counters are meant for Business and First Class passengers, Diplomats and Special Officials with only a handful for SAARC and surprisingly none exclusively for Indian passengers, considering a chunk of the travellers are Indians and its THE capital of the country. Seems Indian government have taken its citizens for a jolly good ride, like they do in everything else!
If semi public sector corporations are known for their sub-standard quality of services and lackasiadical approach towards the stakeholders, there are quite a few even from the private sector displaying the same attitude and behaviour.Yours truly had booked a hotel room in New Delhi. Regale Inn, located in CR park happened to be the one where he intended to stay put for the day for some personal work(instead of bothering a host of relatives in Delhi).The deal was finalized with the hotel and the customer after posting a online request from their website.Subsequently, there were exchange of 16 mails including the last confirmation from the customer just a day before travelling and acknowledgement by the general manager of the hotel of sending the hotel vehicle just on time for the pick up of the passenger from terminal 3.An unhappy customer(courtesy Indian Airlines flight IC886 and chaos at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi)was never expecting the same nightmarish horror would continue. To the dismay of the passenger the pick up vehicle didn't even turn up even after two hours of the arrival of the customer.Repeated attempts by the customer to contact the general manager on his cell, who was the one point contact wasn't possible as he was asleep keeping his cell in switch off mode.After that the passenger called up the hotel and the front office guy who took the call, after waking up from deep slumber offered a loose apology and 'rather ordered', albeit mildly to take a cab and come down to the destination(read Hotel Regale Inn).How can such stupids be appointed as service providers that too managing the front office of a hotel or an airline is beyond explanation?Is that sheer ignorance by the decision makers or the entrepreneur who started off the venture isn't serious enough with this project, as its one among many of his small set-up?Or it may be more humble Indian customers vis-a-vis their western peers who are not willing to take such companies to the logical end by filing a case or two in the consumer courts?Kindly add your comments on the same and you can also incorporate your own nightmares pertaining to customer service experience.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My 474th publication-A Case Study on Strategic Myopia of Ilina Ltd.

Volume II, Issue IV,October 2010 of the International Journal PROFICIENT, has the article of yours truly as the first one from page 1 to page 9.The case study titled,"A Case Study on Strategic Myopia of Illina Ltd." focuses on real life experiences and observations gained by the author, albeit presented under fictitious names and non-existent characters.However, the happenings are real witnessed by a host of other colleagues of yours truly apart from the author himself.More than the characters, the case study throws light on a start-up making it big in a dynamic and vibrant market,however, the closed eye approach is leading to the corporation falling like a pack of cards.The unflinching faith established by the country heads on the top management is leading to a situation when the once successful corporate would have to file for bankruptcy in the not so distant future.The entrepreneurs are allowing the system to rot by facilitating the middle level folks to call the shots, culminating in spending a huge sum of the company's budget on activities that are not at all productive for the organization, not to forget the amount spent on personal fronts.Should you want to read the complete paper drop me a line.Comment back after reading the same.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

US Presidents Visit to India, November 2010

Barack Obama has landed in India. Expectations on the part of sensible Indians are moderate.The recent drubbing Obama and his party got in the mid term polls back home, coupled with his dwindling popularity, not only in the US, but all over the world,provides the American President the best opportunity to claw back to his once envied position at least on the business and economic front.Although Obama signalled his arrival in Mumbai with a US$ 10 Billion worth Indo-US trade deal (complete report from Times of India in a thorough analysis would reveal that its more tilted towards the fledgling US economy rather than the rising Indian economy.On the top of it, Obama's scepticism about India's geo-politcal role vis-a-vis China and Pakistan, along with the bigger and more responsible status in global bodies and agencies starting with the UNSC bid makes the sojourn a lukewarm one from the Indian perspective.That John McCain, the top republican leader understands the significance of such partnership, while the president is showing indications on the contrary, proves the dilemma on the part of the US administration(read ToI report is still on a quandary when it comes to the successful outsourcing model which has given that much needed life support to many of the ailing US corporations.In spite of Obama's frenetic call to ban outsourcing, American voters have given him a thumbs down, indicating towards the fact that outsourcing is here to stay and the model is definitely contributing towards the generation of employment and contribution towards US exchequer , both directly and indirectly.American Defence manufacturers, Nuclear Power and Component Suppliers, IT behemoths, Infrastructure and Manufacturing players are trying to cajole Indian administrators by lobbying hard.They are trying to substitute the typical American carrot and stick approach with that of a pure carrot approach, realizing the importance of an emergent and vibrant India.The one point agenda of the US President's visit is to restore normalcy and accelerate the sedentary US economy, even if it means showing solidarity by lending lip service to India's three decade old problems of violence, terrorism and all other allied activities.Indian business houses are sensible enough to read the writing on the wall, especially when it comes to earning a chunk of their revenues from the US markets. Most of the Indian companies, notably from the sunrise sectors like IT, ITeS, manufacturing are trying to diversify their customer portfolio by focusing on hitherto untapped territories in MENA, China, ASEAN region. In such a scenario would it be apt for the Indian government to go that extra mile so as to accept everything put forth by Obama and his entourage in to-to?Its time to introspect as BRIC economies are the saviour for the so called developed economies of the yesteryear's.Taking things lying down without commanding what the new world order calls for would be a myopic approach on the part of the Indian government.Let the relationship be decided purely on the basis of 'GIVE and TAKE' rather than an age old adage of 'When America sneezes, the world catches cold'.To put it in the modern day perspective, its the other way round, 'When BRIC economies sneezes, America catches cold'.Time for Dr. Manmohan Singh and company to talk from a position of strength.