Home > Sales Techniques > The face the world sees!

The face the world sees!

N R Narayanamurthy’s wisdom and sagacity is spoken about the world over, Ratan Tata is revered for living the values espoused by the Tata Group and Chanda Kochhar is admired for her business acumen – these are just three random names I picked up from the pantheon of Indian Business Heroes – but are these leaders the everyday face of the organisations they head?

How many customers of Infosys, Tata and ICICI actually interact with these highly respected and widely admired personalities – most times it would be a lesser functionary that interacts with the regular customers. In spite of the appreciation for the leaders mentioned earlier will the public hold their organisations in the same high regard if the interaction with the front end executives is less that satisfactory?

Imagine walking into the showroom of a luxury automobile brand, such Jaguar or BMW, and you are accosted by a badly groomed person who is not able to maintain a conversation with you because he is unprepared and ill-at-ease – would you continue the conversation or wish to meet someone else? Won’t your perception of the brand take a hit on account of this interaction?

In order to trim costs organisations are resorting to operations through dealers or outsourced staff; and this has huge implications for both the brand and revenue because poor implementation and adherence can wreck the best laid plans.

I walk into the Customer Service Centre of a telecom company to pay the month’s bill – on my way out I see an employee using the laptop and Internet Datacard that’s kept in the showroom for demonstration. While some employees in the Centre were in uniform this man wasn’t – he was either a new employee or a back-office staff. He was checking mail on the machine kept there for demonstrating their 3G services and working with such concentration that he failed to notice me standing next to him.

In order to attract his attention I asked – Is that a 3G Datacard?

He turns around, nods half-heartedly and continues working. I ask him the price of their Datacard (Modem) and the usage charges; seeing that I can’t be shaken off he stops working and turns to answer my query. All this while he does not mention that the Executive in charge of Sales has gone out and he is at this Demo Station only to check mail. I become aware of another presence next to me – while I am in conversation with the first Executive, another dark form started eclipsing his face. It was as if I was witnessing a celestial drama and I could hear voices too.

This new entrant was making a desperate bid to take charge of the situation; he did not pause to offer a greeting nor did he tell the other person that he is taking charge of the situation – this brave-heart just jumped in to man the breach!

I was startled and his own colleague was a bit nonplussed too – everything happened so fast. Sadly, the soldier was ill-prepared for battle; he made a famous entry and was felled by the first salvo. I asked the same question again.

He replied – “Sir, the modem costs Rs. 1600/- and there is a Active charge of Rs. 100/-.” I asked him to repeat that because during the 12 years spent in telecom I had not heard such a term. The term was Activation Charge and it is an industry standard. This youngster had not been told how to quote regular terms and he was not sure of the tariff either. I was shown a tariff card and asked to choose a plan.

The next question was an interesting one: “When are you buying?”

I admired him for that! In spite of all that he had (not) done this young buck thought I was ready to buy a product from him.

Customers buy from organisations because when they see value in the product or service offered and that happens only when the sale is convincing. This young man had not even started selling and I wasn’t there to buy – I was testing the organisation’s Sales Process. Obviously the organisation had chosen a youngster with poor social skills and they aggravated the mistake by not training him in product, process or behaviour. Shambolic is the word that readily springs to mind!

It is all very well to have leaders who are universally admired, but would it help to cover up the mess at the front-end? How much thought goes into definition of the processes running in the Customer Interface and what level of diligence is used while appointing and training front-office Executives?

What is it going to be? Shamefaced or showing the best face to the world?

Note – The names of business heads used in the article are there only for illustration; the organisations mentioned in the article are there only because the are popular names, but the situation mentioned in their context are hypothetical.

However, the interaction with the Executives of the telecom operator was an actual Service Experience … Real!

  1. July 26, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Appalling, but true. I have come across many such trolls myself. Hope those iconic heads are reading this.

    • JayadevM
      July 26, 2012 at 5:31 am

      Yes, that is the hope.

      That a few Business Heads would care enough to take action. Many of them just seem to be warming seats.

  2. sunil k vaidya
    July 26, 2012 at 2:35 am

    How true, the true face is different sometimes…

    • JayadevM
      July 26, 2012 at 5:32 am

      You are right, Sunil.

      Not so squeaky clean, but with a little bit of care and concern the customer experience can be changed.

  3. July 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Valid points!

    But Jayadev, irrespective of the amount of processes followed in picking employees and training them, there would be some specimens everywhere bent upon tarnishing the company’s image right? Is it 100% avoidable?

    • JayadevM
      July 26, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Not 100% … but 99% for sure. This boy was not even 1% there.

      The organisation has lost it completely in his case.

  4. Ahmar Farooqui
    July 29, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Maybe these bizbuzz take note of their front end only when they feels a swelling out there. I am afraid if they run biz for customers. Thats the irony.

  5. Jamy
    July 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Jay, this is so true and sometimes a change in management could make all the difference as I am witnessing in my workplace now; someone who has been working in reception for 17 years resigned recently because she could not do the basics- keep an above-average attendance record and just SMILE. I was thinking how she could have survived all these years without management noticing this- realised that the HR function was the most unpopular for the last so many years that everyone shunned approaching the department for anything. All that has changed in the past 1 year with a dynamic General Manager and a fair but firm HR Director- has made a world of a difference. Great Read Jay!

    • JayadevM
      July 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Excellent message, Jamy!

      I like the way you keep bringing in relevant examples.

      Thank you.

      • Jamy
        August 1, 2012 at 7:13 am

        The Sales Coach is bringing out the examples..lol!

      • JayadevM
        August 2, 2012 at 4:24 am

        Thank you, Jamy! 🙂

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