Customers say the Dandiest things, sometimes

Most of the times entrepreneurs  get to hear complaints and good byes from the customers and they are constantly working to improve and do it better.

Today I am proud to share a couple of customers posts, where customers have gone out of their way and said very nice things about Deskaway and Commonfloor (two of our portfolio companies).

Good going guys, you make us feel really proud. Best businesses do everything to take care of the customers and you guys are living examples of that. Keep it going.

Influence: The only thing that matters

(Live from Prithvi cafe – Mumbai, written a few days back)

Concept
———-
– Every one has a circle of influence
– Every customers who loves your product/service will influence others around him in a positive manner
– Every customer who hates you will spread a negative influence
– Naturally some people will have larger circle of influence and  some smaller
–  Similarly some customers have a strong force of influence some not so strong

Exercise
———–
– P = sum of all the ‘positive’ circles
– N = sum of all the  ‘negative’ circles
– Resulting circle, R = (P – N)

Questions
———-
– Is the resulting circle posetive?
– Is it large enough ?
– Is it growing?

End of the day
————–
– Highest  priority for  you should be to continously work on  increasing   these individual posetive circles (P) and eleminating / reducing negative circles (N)
– Size of the resulting circle (R) and its growth rate is the only thing that matters

So what does you equation look like…

My advice to hospitals / clinics / doctors

(written a few days ago)

I am right now sitting in the waiting area of a Reputed hospital in Bangalore. I came in at 0915 pm for a 0930 pm appointment which I had booked earlier this morning. Its 1000 pm right now, doctor just came into the hospital is he seeing the guy before me.

I have seen same thing repeat across many hospitals I have visited for one reason or other and IT SUCKS. The doctors just never come on time, in fact they think its their responsibility to come late. And while you are waiting , getting irritating: the hospital staff makes no pro-active attempt to share any information about ‘when will the doctor come?’.  The irtiration increases further when you go yourself and ask about the doctor’s whereabouts, they totally ignore you.  If you persist and may be scream on them, they will give you some vague info – wait 10 minutes. What the f****,  my time is as important as any doctors time?

Finally the doctor comes (usually 30 minutes or more late). You go and see him. Like a fool you may expect to hear an apology for making you wait. But no surprises here – nothing like that happens, they behave like nothing is wrong.

I do understand that there is scarcity of good doctors, same guys see people in 5 different hospitals / clinics all day. At times there will be genuine reason because of which they are late.

My advice to all hospital / clinics / doctors is:

– build a buffer for unexpected delays
– dont make it a habit to take patients for granted
– when there are delays, the staff should keep waiting patients informed
– doctors who come late Should posetively apologize to the patients

I care about  the medical community, they are doing a great job and hence I thought it is my duty to openly share it with everyone, hoping that it can be fixed.

It takes a leader to deliver – Blue Dart

“It takes a leader to deliver”

This is the slogan of Bluedart – which was written on the posters all around me, when I went a Blue Dart Hub to send a courier to Mumbai.

I went in, asked for envelope, wrote the address on envelop, waited 5 minutes for my turn while keeping an eye on a guy who came after me but was trying to push his packet ahead of mine.  The bluedart guy took my packet looked at it and said “We need complete From address” and gave my packet back into my hands and started processing the other guys package.

I was thinking “Why was this not mentioned to me before while I was asking for the envelope ? Why is their no written instruction on the wall saying one needs to have full From address ?”.

Anyways, I had no choice so I wrote the From address on my package and gave it back. The guy started processing it and asked me to pay 230 bucks. Which I thought was too high for a Bangalore – Mumbai courier. I mean Bluedart is (so called) high quality and more expensive courier but, Is it worth 5 times the price of others?. Anyways since the courier was urgent I decided to pay 230 bucks.

I gave the guy 300 bucks, he took the money and asked me if I had change, I told him I dont have change. He looked at me as if I have committed a big crime and looked at me for some time. I guess he was hoping that I will go and arrange some change. When that did not happen, he waited a little more and then went in to arrange change. I was already quite irritated, that these f***s want to charge 230 bucks for a 50 bucks service but won’t keep change.

He returned in few minutes and told me “Sorry sir we dont have change”, expecting me to do something, may be go out and start looking for change or may be cancel my order.

At this point, I got really really pissed I said “Fine, give me phone number of your manager, I will talk to him”. Suddenly his face changed, he quickly completed the documentation, once again went in and with one minute came back with exact change and gave it to me.

Do you think I will go back to bluedart after this? To get ripped off and get shitty service.

Cafe coffee day, we dont need u

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Tuesday (18 March) , I and nandini were catching a flight to bangalore from delhi airport, it was early morning around 0500 am and we were hungry. We decided to get something to eat and headed to the cafe coffee day just outside the terminal.

Me: Can I get two masala chai?

CCD: We dont have masala chai, only coffee. (NOTICE THERE IS NO APOLOGY IN THE WORDS)

ME: Why no chai?

CCD: There are no tea bags.

ME: Ok, can I get a sandwitch and one cofee (I handed him a 500 Rs note)

CCD: Please give me change, I dont have change

ME: I dont have change

CCD: We also dont have change (no attempt to get change from near by shops etc, there were two people in CCD)

ME (got angry) : Thank you very much please cancel my order

CCD: says nothing, makes no attempt to stop me or appologise, just hands me back my 500 rs.

We decided to go inside the airport and find another place as you coffee day is not the only business who sells coffee/tea/sandwitches (although it seems like thats what they believe).

And once inside and checkedin , we looked around and found a spanking new outlet of a new chain (Buno and Kaffa). They gave us great service, fresh sand witches and smiling faces.

Its sure that from now on, when I ever I travel via delhi my preferred place to eat will be BUNO and KAFFA , coffee day does not need me or my business…

I have noticed this scenario repeat often across multiple outlets of  CCD all over india and i am sure more and more customers will opt for alternatives and CCD’s business will be effected badly **THINK STARBUCKS**, and they can continue to think they are doing a favor to customers by selling coffee, tea, sandwitches… where as they really ought to be selling the customer experience…

Horror service hall of fame: Airtel

Today we induct the famous “Bharati Airtel” into the “horror service hall of fame”

I am right now in the middle of experiencing “customer service horror” at the hands of airtel, and here goes the horror story.

I got to know my bill amount and last date via SMS/e-mail etc which also said goto airtel.in and pay online. Well before the due date I made 5-10 unsuccessful attempts to pay online. Guess what! I can not even login to my account. The website’s user section is down for days together. And because of other engagements I am unable to pay the bill across the table and the last date pasts by.

Airtel promptly deactivates all my services; No outgoing calls/No outgoing SMS /No GPRS Services (this is the part I use the most). Anyways, my mistake did not make the payment on time.

Day 1: 10:00, I try again on the website, make the payment after trying for 3-4 times (full of user bugs). Payment confirmed, I expected the services to be activated soon after that.

Day 1: 1700 hrs: Nothing happens, I still can not use my phone for anything. I call 121 (anytime anywhere customer service???). First I am promised that within 4 hrs services will be activated, but when I ask why so long and demand faster action, I am told just reboot your phone in few minutes..it will be done..

Day 1: 2000 hrs: Nothing still words. I get an SMS “hope you are happy with resolution provided”. I am thinking “WHERE THE F*** IS THE RESOLUTION”

Day 2: 0800 hrs: 15 hrs and 20 reboots later. Nothing still works, I call 121 again and ask what happened to my “activation”. No proper answer or explanation. Just another promise I have taken your request, it will get done in 4 hrs. I hit the roof, got very angry and screamed at the guy, suddenly he tells he has activated it right away, I can hold his call and try it out. Wow it works!. I hangup the call, thinking “FINALLY THE HORROR IS OVER”

Day 2: 0830 hrs: I open the browser on my Nokia E61i, to access my mails. HORROR again, data services didnt work. They never bothered to see what all services on my account and only activated the calls.

Day 2: 0835 hrs: I dial 121 again, speak to one more joker, waste 10 more minutes of my time, I am told it will get done within 1500hrs (7 hrs more hrs).

At this point I just gave up and dropped the call. The truth is these guys think they have all the power. They don’t give a damn about you, you are just one of the 50 million customers of airtel (or any other company).

But I believe these guys will be in for a big surprise. Things are changing fast and customers continue to hold the real power. I decided to do my bit and share my experience. After this I will also consider switching to vodafone and the options will only get better post number portability…

What do you guys think..let us know via comments…

UPDATE: My data connection did not start working untill 2030 hrs on Day2. I had to call 5 more times before it finally got working. Well now i am writting this update from my nokia E61i.

Rude customer service – Fun Republic bangalaore

I am right now watching “halla bol” at fun republic, bangalore. Movie seems to be fine but before coming in i experinced torture at the hands of employees of the multiplex.

We decided around 1130 to watch a movie at Fun Republic bangalore, went online booked the tickets, paid 660 – 600 ticket price end 60 convience charges. Now what exactly is this convenience? You dont have to stand in the queue at the multiplex.

But when we reached the mutliplex we were in for rude surprises. The guys at the ticket counter told us to stand in the regular queue!!! Now what was that? i told him that we have booked the ticked online and hence you just give us the ticket, if i a have to stand in the queue what is point of buying online. He told me that online you can choose ur own seats thats it but when u come to multiplex u have to stand in the queue. I told him i always book online and there should be no need to stand into the queue. But despite of this we and few other customers who had also booked online were made to wait and treated rudely. When we asked to speak to the manager the same guy who asked us to get into queue is the manager and he told us he is too busy right now to even to talk to us.

what do these guys think? Customers are fools and deserve to be treated in such an insensitive manner. What do you think?

Strand book festival, very disappointing

Earlier this week 4 of us visit visited the strand book fest at the

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“chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore”. All of us are very active readers, we regularly purchase books and were prepared to spend good money, expecting to grab good books along with very good discounts. At the entrance we picked up one Plastic baskets each (yes the same one you pickup in the grocery store). Now I have weakness for buying books and often pickup 5-10 books on my each visit to a good bookstore. I was thinking since i will get more variety and cheaper prices, I may actually end up filling more than one Basket.

Alas, the organizers of the book fest had something else in mind, to cut the long story short I came out of the fest totally dis-appointed, with only 3 books. Almost same was the case with other 3 friends. All of us decided not come back to the fest again and also to warn our friends against it.

Here are the reasons:

  • After looking at some of the books and the prices, I realized that most books are NOT DISCOUNTED, they were being sold at prices higher than what is available in the market already
  • Most of the stock on display was HARD COVER BOOKS and soft covers/paper backs were either not to be seen or hard to locate, hard covers naturally sell at much higher price as compared to other editions
  • The variety of books was totally disappointing
  • Staff was not at all helpful to customers. I asked one staff member to find a book for me two times, he heard my request and went away with a promise to come back but (as you can guess) he never did bothered to come back. I am sure he never even looked for the book
  • During checking out when I confronted him he made some very lame excuses and gave me this attitude like “we are doing a favor to people of Bangalore by putting up this book fest, why are you asking so many questions”
  • This festival has reputation of selling books on discount, where as they clearly don’t sell it cheaper than what is already available in the market
  • They are just taking advantage of the reputation and fooling the customers.

In our case since we had come out in a mood to buy the books, we drove to our favorite book store BLOSSOMS, these guys are too good, they give 20% flat discount and have 3 floors packed of books. The variety of books here is 2-3 time more as compared that Strand fest had. We also compared prices for some of the books and that confirmed the higher prices at Strand fest.

Yes all of us ended up buying a good 20+ books of our choice at a good price, from Blossoms! I am currently reading the autobiography of Marlon Brando …