Friday, September 28, 2007

Talent has no gender

A leading Indian economic newspaper carried an article .

The article quotes the India CEO of a multinational bank who says that their recruitment policies follow a norm of hiring women proportionate to the number of women in an educational institution. “If there are 30% girls in an educational institution, then they account for at least 30% of our hirings from that institute.”
A policy like this is arbitrary and serves the interest of no stakeholder . The company will lose out on some outstanding candidates simply on the grounds of gender . Likewise , there would be candidates who would be denied an opportunity simply because of their gender ( sorry you don't fall in the 30% ) .
Talent has no gender .

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Less would indeed be more

These days every other service provider- mobile service provider , bank etc seems to have either set up a call centre or engaged the services of a call centre . Or worse - use technology to inundate customers with messages .
Having incurred the cost of a call centre they then seem to try to come up with ways to keep the folks in the call centre or their servers busy . Consumers feel the impact by way of incessant , intrusive , pointless communication via phone calls , text msgs .
Case in point - a mobile service provider . I have the same mobile number for at least 8 years now . Every month the bill is received and paid for ( this would be one of the cases where the payment is paid almost always several days in advance of the due date) . In the past few months there has been a steady stream of text messages...
approximately a fortnight before the due date "You can view your ebill with password 800 "
Few days later " If you have forgotten your password sms 500 to 800 "
A day later " Your bill has been couriered "
A day later " Your bill is due by 16/09/07 . If you have made the payment pl ignore this msg"
A few hours later " Your bill is due by 16/09/07 . If you have made the payment pl ignore this msg "
This message is then received daily for 2-3 days post the due date irrespective of whether the payment is made or not .
Strangely , when the payment is made there is never a message that says " Thank you for your payment " .
There is never a message that says " How happy are you with our service ? sms 1 for very happy , 2 for ok , 3 for unhappy to 800 "
At the very least companies like these can attempt to use technology prudently by sorting through customer history and sending messages such as these where the history shows a need for such messages ( I checked with few folks who endure this service provider and found that they all receive messages with the same frequency )
There seem to be a lot of companies out there who think that communication of this nature constitutes service . Certainly a case when less would be more .

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Less is More

Terrific post by Dan Pink

Ah, choices. For shoppers in Tokyo, they're endless. So how does a smart retail deigner respond to consumers' ocean of options? By restricting those choices. Radically.
Welcome to Ranking RanQueen -- a store that carries only the one, three, five, or ten most popular products in given category.
Here's how it works. Suppose you're shopping for an ear cleaner. Go to a drug store and you'll find dozens. Go to RanQueen and you'll find only the three most popular ones -- ranked in order. Looking for bust care products? The day I visited the Ranqueen that's stuffed into about 60-square meter space the Shibuya train station, the top seller, denoted with a crown surrounding the number 1, was "Beauty Bust-Up Gel." You'll find the top 3 Wii games, the top 3 mobile phone straps, the top 5 American snacks, the top 10 J-Pop singles, and the top 5 "lady's fragrances to find true love." (The shelf with the top 3 "after bath products" is pictured to the right.) The rankings are based on sales at other stores around Tokyo and they can change week to week.
In a world of abundance, Ranqueen imposes scarcity. "Curated consumption," my virtual pal Reinier Evans calls this new kind of retail. Or as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe told us last century, "less is more."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Learnings from across industries

In 2005 air travellers in India had huge gift in the form of Kingfisher Airlines . Since it's inception the airline has raised the bar for service in the aviation industry . As someone who has travelled extensively within India and internationally - I can state that Kingfisher's service is outstanding and consistent when compared with international airlines too . By focusing on the customer Kingfisher has catalysed significant improvements in service in the airline industry . Certainly a case where competition has benefited the consumers in ways more than one .
It was interesting to watch the response of the other airlines mired in their ways of working and their culture . At first the approach seemed to be " this is a flash in a pan . they won't be able to live upto their promises " . Jet Airways until then was perceived as being most efficient . Post Kingfisher they seemed stodgy and not so customer friendly . Even Indian Airlines has become less unbearable than they used to be . Of course the overall growth in the number of airlines has impacted the industry and the service standards - there is no doubt that Kingfisher made the "king's contribution " to enabling this much needed change ( growth in the number and network of airlines keeps Kingfisher on it's toes ! )
Point is that even companies within an industry seem to take a while ( longer than they should have ) to evolve to respond ( if not lead ) in the changing competitive landscape .
The lessons seem quite lost across the borders of the industry .
This struck me while visiting a mall in Mumbai few weeks ago . Stores , malls in India ( at least the ones I have visited ) tend to approach service as something they need to extend to a customer once he /she has stepped inside the store . And their liability to offer any service remains only as long as the customer is within the defined physical space they see as "their premises" . This tended to be the approach of airlines too e.g the airline's service started once you got to the airline counter and then the inflight service . Kingfisher changed it by posting their representatives at most airports right from the entrance . They help you unload your luggage and get it inside the airport . Similarly at the arrival section at most airports . Strangely , no other airline has so far chosen to offer this thoughtful service to it's customers .
This is much needed service in the retail sector today in India. And it would be easier to organise for a retail establishment than for an airline .
While individual stores may or may not be able to offer this service there is no doubt that malls , stand alone department stores can easily offer a service of helping consumers get a taxi or an auto .This service alone can make consumers prefer to frequent the mall / store that offers this service .
On the physical front all it would take is to put up a signboard indicating the taxi/auto stand , a person or two whose only mandate is to ensure transport for the consumers who wait in the line
( necessary in a country like India where taxi / auto drivers will choose whether or not they wish to go to the destination where the consumer wishes to travel to ) . The tougher bit is for malls / dept stores to rethink their concept and scope of service .

Saturday, September 15, 2007


We shape our words . Thereafter , they shape us.

Tom Peters

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spoiling Dinner

This picture is a true image ! Unimaginable that any company would use the word "spoil" in any context in a tagline for marketing food products.

But apparently there are great minds who are convinced that consumers would somehow crack the code and get the message (?) they are seeking to convey .

Yours truly had the opportunity to watch the fate of this stall for 45 mins (while waiting to get a cab ) . Not a single consumer was seen at the stall . Perhaps they could understand English ?

With this tagline Auntie Anne's should perhaps exclusively target non-English speaking consumers .