Home > Ideas > Waiting for the Saviour?

Waiting for the Saviour?

Heard that old quote? “Can’t think now, I am busy working!”

Many Indian companies are in that mode.

Oil price on the rise, inflation heading northward to balance the southward journey of the rupee, GDP down, business down, indices down …. India is down!

The count has commenced …. Can we get back on our feet before the referee declares a K.O.?

Companies are staggering on account of the relentless pounding from all quarters – Government policies aren’t market friendly any more, costs are growing unchecked, customers aren’t buying like before, erosion of talent and so on.

This is a ready-made opportunity for the best to show how good they are. We hear so much about how “When the going gets tough, the tough get …”; it seems the tough have decided to curl up and die … Unconditional surrender!

Here are some symptoms of the disease that is slowly killing Indian businesses:

1.       Refusing to listen to the customer

When a customer walks in or calls to enquire about a product answers are given only for what’s available. If it’s about anything else they either tell you point-blank that they can’t meet your requirement or the polite suggestion is “try elsewhere”. I have not found any organisation that takes that query as an indicator of an un-served niche. How many such enquiries would be going untracked? Who in the company is aware of the number of such unmet needs? Can the customer be satisfied with some minor tweaking in the current offering.

Call the Service Centre and you are compelled to listen to the canned messages about their schemes and promos before getting to the interactive system. It is close to impossible to reach a human voice. Even the Walk-in Service Centres refuse to give you a number to call them – use the Contact Centre number, they say.

You are forced to listen to them, but there is no reciprocation – they are not interested to hear you.

I have not come across a company yet that listens to what their customers really want to say. They ask questions based on their own assessment of the situation, which at times is diametrically opposite to what the customer wants. Their questions are not unlike the ones asked by lawyers, which compel the witness to provide the expected answer.

It’s time the companies gave their customers a proper hearing. There are many unmet needs, that potentially mean revenue to the company.

2.       Poor infrastructure

Walk into a Service Centre to register a complaint, to make a payment or to make an enquiry and you hear this –

“Sir! Our system is down.” or “There is no electricity. You will have to come later or go to our Service Centre at …..“

India has always been a country plagued with insufficient power supply – we are famous for Power Cuts and unscheduled breakdowns. It’s to handle such outages that they have inverters and auxiliary power supplies. How difficult is it for any reputed company to plan a power back-up at least to run the computers?

Haven’t these companies heard about POS Devices? Or about Apps that work on Smartphones? When a customer walks in with cash would any sensible company refuse to accept payment – that too in these cash-strapped times?

Most organisations don’t even collect names or phones numbers of people who walk in with an enquiry! Are they inundated with Sales?

3.       Awful Web Presence

I heard on TV that a local Consumer Electronics Retailer was running a Swap Scheme. One could trade in the old appliance and get a new one at a discount – I wanted to trade-in my old TV for a new one and so I Googled for their number. There were 3 landline numbers listed and a whole set of mobile numbers against the name of their outlets across the city. All the featured mobile numbers were dead. The landline number took me to some allied business of theirs. I was given a mobile number and the person who answered seemed disinterested. She said that my enquiry has to be made at another number.

Not one person who answered thought that this is a business opportunity. They were seeing the call as an irritant – the caller was eating into their time.

As for the Web Presence – I wonder when was the last time the CEO or the Sales Manager checked the Web Page of their own organisation. Was anyone tracking the number of hits at their webpage? Do they actively study the enquiries that come through this route? What are they doing to improve Sales through the portal?

Barring a few at the very top most Indian companies are in the Cave Age as far as this activity is concerned.

4.        You call us!

This is an ever repeating theme across organisations. “Call us, we can’t call you!” I must state here that there are a few exceptions to this:

–          Outcalls from companies asking you to pay overdue bills

–          Companies selling you some insurance scheme.

–          You walked into an Auto Dealership to enquire about a car

You can expect a call in the above instances; but in all other cases you have to follow-up even if it means more business for them. Be it the Call Centre or the Sales Outlet of a company, nobody promises to call back with information. You have to call them.

Doesn’t it seem incongruous that in these troubled times, when board rooms are choc-o-bloc filled with worried faces and balance sheets awash with red companies are ignoring the money making opportunities that come knocking! These are low-hanging fruit and don’t take much doing. A lot more can be done to turn things around, but why are we ignoring these? Is it because they are simple and too obvious?

I am reminded of the story of the pious guy who ignored the offer of the kind boatman to escape from the flood water because he knew that God would come to save him.

  1. Anantha Kumar
    June 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Hmm.. Nice intro and well-presented Jay.. When it comes 2 business, which organization is sitting idle in this very fast paced world? Most decision makers r only book-educated as far as management jargons r concerned. As u rightly implied, time and tide wait for no one and the story of the pious guys also aptly fits into such scheme of things. One thing, which I cud comprehend out of this entire text, is that all your tags r related to those sectors/industries where competition exists. What abt those establishments/institutions/sectors where there is no competition? As an example, consider schools, taxis (where public transport isn’t available) etc.

    • JayadevM
      June 3, 2012 at 8:27 am


      In those sectors complacency and insensitivity to customer needs are at the worst level. There are islands of excellence in every industry but my description would fit bulk of the operators across sector.

      • Anantha Kumar
        June 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

        Roger Jay.. Day in and day out, irrespective of the locus standi of such service providers, the sufferers n victims are the end-users only. Wonder when such customers can see light @ the end of the tunnel???

      • JayadevM
        June 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

        Tough call.

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