Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy to sue (customers)

Vodafone sent a notice to a customer who posted on his Facebook wall about his problems with the service provider. This has to be a new low in customer service. Incredibly foolhardy and arrogant of Vodafone to think that they could get away with this stunt in today's connected world.

The customer alleges that the CMO asked him to change to another service if he was not satisfied. What a role model for the rest of the company ! Instead of addressing the service issues if a senior executive speaks high handedly to a customer it sends strong signals to the rest of the organization that this is an acceptable attitude.Vodafone might as well disband all service training programs (if they do conduct any).

Vodafone's gripe is that Dhaval posted numbers of their executives on his page. This is a huge offense in Corporate Land. Companies devise elaborate procedures to keep customers as far away as possible from their senior management. As a test case the next time you call any company - airline , credit card , retailer , phone company - if your problem is not being resolved by the person handling your call just ask them for the name, telephone number , email id of the service head or CEO . Suddenly they will get very co-operative or they'll develop amnesia or say that they only know their immediate supervisor. Often organizations become a world unto themselves with senior management feeling like monarchs of their fiefdoms. They don't want to be bothered with lowly matters like customers especially when it's a Rs 1000-1500/ month type of revenue (the CMO would have paid way more attention to a B2B client ).

Vodafone's facebook page is filled with complaints from customers across the country. Some of it in language that would be deemed profane. Maybe Vodafone should clarify that what they're trying to say is it's ok for people to vent their fury on Vodafone's page rather than their own ?

This episode opens up opportunities for ad agencies of the phone companies . Vodafone's agency can figure a new tag line since "happy to help" is not valid. Other phone companies can add "we don't send notices to our customers" in their list of virtues.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who is the leader ?

Baba Ramdev has promised to go on a fast from June 4. A news channel put together a panel for the 9.00 pm news which had Justice Santosh Hegde and a representative from the Congress
(Manish Tiwari possibly undergoing therapy to recoup or coaching on how to defend the Congress in the latest scam ) and few other folks. Part of the discussion initiated by the anchor was about the "Anna" camp , "Baba Ramdev" camp etc . He kept asking "Who is the leader of this movement ? Anna or Baba ? ". Justice Hedge's reply that both are leaders whose views he respects was not sufficiently newsworthy enough for the anchor who kept repeating the question.

"Who is the leader?" (in the context of this situation) comes from a paradigm that there can be only one leader. A pyramid structure which can hold only one person at the top. This type of questioning is also symptomatic of the times where depth , introspection , analysis are compromised for quick conclusions and buzz. This Maggi noodles approach to complex issues serves nobody's interest.

Maybe Nestle can launch a campaign saying our noodles have spawned a whole new approach to analysis and discussion of issues (which are way more convoluted than the noodles ). With Maggi at least one can get an enjoyable snack at the end of the few minutes. When a news channel (or any organization) uses that approach to a complex issue all one gets is wasted time.