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HONESTY is just a POLICY! October 23, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in career guidance and counselling, Children n Students, Life and all, National Issues, parenting, Social Casue.
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We do teach school students morals in life. Honesty is the best policy was one of the first phrases I learned in my life. Moral Science was a very important subject in school curriculum. We were taught moral science in school which we not only learnt by heart but also assimilated in our character in life. I remember those days when at home we used to get additional lessons on values in life skills by way of Panchatantra Stories etc. But it seems civilization has changed drastically and so have social values.

It was one of those days when Common Wealth Games was making the news headlines ( for Gold reasons!) One morning while reading newspaper my daughter asked me a question which triggered various thought processes very vital for today’s society in general and the education policy makers in specific. Here is sharing it all with you ….

The news goes like this : India bags 6 more Gold medal’s in the Common Wealth Games…. My daughter Mahima, who is a class VIIth school student, reads it loud for all of us around to listen & then remarks.. “looks like something is wrong…” I questioned her : “What is wrong about this? India gets Gold Medals & this is a reason for us to cheer and be happy…!” No Papa I didn’t mean that, yes I am happy with the Gold medals and the achievements but I never saw India getting so many Gold medals so I thought something was fishy! I asked her about her perceived apprehension, the answer was startling : She said : I think the game is fixed, India being the host country we are getting more medals then what we deserve… I snapped back : What nonsense dear, the players have practiced and performed ..hence they are winning and the reward follows…. You should not think negative.

Yes dad, I know that its not good to be negative.. but is there anything negative in suspecting that a game is fixed? In the previous few months we have been reading in news paper that various cricket games are fixed! Even in the school assembly when children have to read news, they have orated such news at times! Dad looks like you are not aware, there is a lot going wrong about these Common Wealth Games.. I read so much about one minister called Kamadi who is being blamed for so many mistakes in the CWG stadium!

With such a reply from a class seven student I got dumb stuck. What morals should we teach our children? More important how do we justify them what we teach? When we tell our children that it’s a bad habit to abuse, why does the next person on the street do so? why does the actor in the movie does so on a cinemascope screen or a TV show? We teach children about hygiene habits then why does we see so many people easing off by the street? What ever we teach them they try to correlate it with the world around them. It is getting increasingly a challange to teach & inculcate values in today’s generation. Today’s children demand that whatever is preached should be practiced also, not just by the teachers and the parents but by the society in general! When they do not find a synchronization they get confused. This is where their personality shatters.

One more reason is the excessive exposure to media – our children are exposed to the good as well as the bad in the society. You pick up a television sop and mostly you will find that it the story is based on some plot of a never ending conspiracy! Worst, invariably the conspiracy is played in between relationships and not enemies! You can see stories where a brother conspires against a brother or a mother in law is secretly working against the daughter in law, husband wife & the third relation stories are a common place now a days. Even the kids can guess such connections in a television sop while we teach them at home not to tell lies, be honest. Sorry sir, honesty does not deliver the desired results in today’s world always.. I was shocked when a parent informed me that their seven year old kid is used to telling a lie just for the sake of evading homework!

When we look deep into the evolution of all this, it seems as if the excess of exposure to our kids either through media or other wise is the culprit. Evil was always there in life, there has been no generation without a immoral clan around in the society. The only difference was that earlier the children then were not exposed to all that. The only information about bad person was in fairy tales. The question is what ever we teach our children at home or at school, if the society does not endorse it will the teaching get assimilated? Will we then have a valid stand to stand by our teachings in front of these students? Today do we have the answers to the questioning eyes of our young generation. Ethics & ethical behavior is not the agenda of today’s children, they are getting exposed to the latest in the technology but surely their value system is getting degraded day by day.

The real world is day by day becoming a rough & tough place to be. Today’s student have to be fully prepared to face it. Classroom education in itself does not make our students better prepared to face the world. It is the responsibility of us citizens of the country to take on this responsibility and behave in a balanced manner in public at least. A lot needs to be done on this. Come lets start thinking and as they say austerity starts at home, lets be a responsible parent at home in every wake of our life.

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
http://www.aglakadam.com

Yoga@ Call Center – The Customer Plight October 18, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, International Issues, Management, National Issues, Social Casue.
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If Peter Drucker & Jack Welch would read these stories they would surely revisit their understanding about the worth of a customer, at least in India. There was a time when a lot of PSU’s and government run companies in India were strongly criticized for lack of service consciousness. This lack of service attitude ( the service apethy) was invented, revealed & amply advertised by the privately owned companies, post globalization. But over a period of time now it seems the so called huge size companies are not able to manage their growth and are compromising with their customer consciousness… Here is sharing two real life experiences I encountered myself ….

Story 1 :

Company : Dell

Product : Laptop

I responded to a lucrative newspaper advertisement from Dell and rang up the call center. It took two attempts to get the call picked and then subsequently get it transferred to the right desk. Goes without saying one has to repeat one’s introduction and state purpose of call at least twice or thrice before getting connected. After going through all this telephonic yoga and exercise, the call center executive on the other side says he does not have all the information and as such he shall call me back with all the inputs.

When no one called back in the next 48 hours, I wrote to as many email id’s as possible as I could discover, innovate on @dell domain ( after performing an intensive research on the dell website). To all my emails I got only two auto responder replies, both not from India. I then searched for Dell users on Twitter & fortunately hooked on to someone who was a bit responsive. He forwarded my query to one Mr. Rajiv Verma who took 7 days & multiple follow-ups to partially revert on basic queries raised by me post initial quote. In the meanwhile I got a feeling as if I was trying to do something wrong & illegal hence I had to struggle so much to purchase a Dell laptop. Was I trying to purchase something undeserved! The humiliation and anger surpassed my tolerable limits and I decided to stop my ordeal buying a Dell Laptop. I communicated the same to Dell officials via email. Here is the reply which I get from them :

Dear Mr. Varwandkar,

I have been looking over the email exchanges between you and Rajeev. I noticed that ……..

…….. Again, I will provide feedback to the agent, as this should have been explained to you in a timely manner. We also should not have taken so long to respond to your email on the 10th.

We regret that we are losing a customer; however, we very much appreciate your feedback.

Thank you, Amy (full text of this quote available on request)

The most surprising element is that they realized they are loosing a client, but there was no attempt to retain a loosing customer! Who said customer retention is the key in today’s fierce market place? If companies like the scale of Dell have so pathetic customer response, who will have reasons to believe on the theories of Management prevailing round the management schools across the Globe?

Story 2 :

Company : Idea Cellular Limited

Product : Post Paid connection.

I am a user of Idea cellular phone number since almost 8 years, goes without the saying that the number was purchased 8 years back! I have four connections in the corporate category, all in the name of a private limited company.

Barring of services for invalid reasons or for errors at their end or just for fun (pun!) has been the order with Idea. Off late I have got used to introducing myself to Idea Call center executives every time I have some unfortunate reason to call them & get some rude treatement. To add to the misery is that the call center trauma is not free, they proceed with your call only once you accept that your call will be a chargeable call and no more a toll free call!

What happened recently with me was really innovative on behalf of Idea, it was an Out of The Box Idea which changed the happiness quotient in my life. One fine morning a call is received from an unidentified person, who states that he is calling from Idea franchisee and he needs my identity proof. The arrogant caller exceeded his limits when he said that he is standing near a particular police station and I am supposed to submit an Identification proof within 15 minutes! I refused and asked him to come to my office to collect whatever document required.

After a few days all of a sudden my idea number gets barred not only from making outgoing calls but also from receiving incoming calls. The reason stated is that this number has been identified as no identity. I am asked to fill up a fresh Application Form (CAF), submit two fresh photographs and sign over all the new application formalities once again as if I am purchasing a new connection. On top of it the Idea officials insist that I should sign blank forms and not filled up forms!

After various follow-ups and persuasions an insider informs me that the Idea officials have lost the original application form and I am now being harassed to get the new documents! When I contacted the Idea grievance redressal cell in day time on the phone numbers as mentioned on the website, no one picked up the phone. I tried reaching the appellate authority where a soft sounding but harsh worded person picked the called and replied mechanically to my queries. He went ahead to charge me for not fulfilling the formalities and using the idea Post Paid connection for years together!

While I am still going through this ordeal as of date, I thought this a great idea to write down my ideas on diminishing customer consciousness amongst huge corporate in India. I am not the only one who has suffered , I am sure there would be thousands and lacks of such victims. I strongly demand future managers to be empathetic to customer plight, delight will automatically follow through!

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
FS Management (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Email : info@fsindia.in
Date : 18.10.2010

What are you selling today? October 5, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, EQ, Fun Reading, Inspirational Story, Management.
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One evening I was returning home after a hectic day schedule when my car wizzed past a fruit vendor. I suddenly remembered my daughter had demanded fruits early morning. I stopped, wriggled back in the traffic and straight way went to the apple basket. After sorting a few apples I asked the fruit vendor to pack & parcel 2 kg apple for me. While in the process of weighing the apples, the fruit vendor asked me to take out two apples which I had selected and suggested to be replaced by two new apples from the basket. I asked him the reason for this change. He said “Sahab isme andar se keeda hai” ( these two apples are rotten inside). Probably with his experience as a fruit vendor he knew to judge the apple content from the outward skin colour & appearance of the fruit.

By all means this was a great gesture by the fruit vendor Sunil. What if the apple perished from inside had been given to my daughter n school tiffin! Even if she discovered the perish while eating and decided not to eat it further, she would be left without adequate tiffin for the day in her school. In any case the fruit vendor will actually incur loss by not being able to sell perished apples at the end of the day! He could have very well managed to let go off the two rotten apples and reduce his sales damage! Neither I was a regular customer at that fruit vendor stall that he should have bothered to care about me! I was totally zapped at the honesty of the fruit vendor & I could not resist asking him the reason why he did so? The answer which he gave me was quite revealing and enlightening.

He said : We are in the business of selling edible fruits ( not just fruits). At home when the fruit purchased by the customer is not found suitable to be eaten the complete family will curse me. Not only this much they will never ever purchase any fruit from my shop. They may also brand me a cheap retailer. Even if it is a natures process to rot the fruit plum after some time, the customer will not blame God, they will charge me! I know this. Hence I always try to ensure that my customers get the right fruit. It’s the same for my regular customers as well as one time customer. I do not differentiate from customer to customer in quality. Yes for regular buyers I offer a price discount, that’s for sure.

I was pretty satisfied with the reply & I had all adorations for the fruit vendor. No wonder the fruit seller had grown from our wheel trolley based fruit seller to decent fruit shop owner in a few months. There was still one part of the query unanswered – what does he do with the semi perished / rotten fruits!

This was his reply : We as well purchase the fruits from some one else sir! See there is a supply chain in this business. I segregate the unsalable goods, quantify it and have worked out a discount formulae against this demurrage from the supplier. In my next purchase I get this price discount adjusted by the whole seller. The bunch of unusable fruits is then segregated into partially usable, so –so and absolute dirt. The absolute dirt is chucked into the municipality waste bin, the so so ones are offered to the wandering birds & animals & the partially eatable’s are chopped off the rot & distributed free of cost to the poor and the beggars.
What a policy, what an amazing vision! Never knew so much of a thought process goes behind the working of a fruit vendor! I learned that business is done from the heart not just by the head. One has to involve in the complete process of the business only then will he/she be successful. I have since then been a regular customer for that fruit vendor and also have recommended many to only stop at that particular vendors shop! A dedicated & loyal customer now!

In our corporate world as well we have seen many such similar parlances. Few months back Nokia had called back a particular batch of mobile batteries. As per one recent news, South Korian major Hyundai Motor has called back almost 140000 Sonata Sedans (of 2011 model) from the US markets for the reasons of steering fitment issues. As per the news, Hyundai in an email statement said that it was acting voluntarily to ensure customer safety. It said that it knew of a fewer than 10 vehicles with improper steering fitment and that no accident had yet occurred due to this.

Business strategist’s predict that the damage caused to the company’s reputation for the incorrect product in the market will be grossly covered up by the companies’ intentions to ensure customer safety. After all they are not just in the business of selling cars, they are actually selling safety on roads!

Business is business, be it a local fruit vendor or an international car major. The marketers and the business persons have to realize what product or service they are actually selling in the market? A tooth paste company can claim it is selling a tooth paste branded into various colors & forms! No they are actually selling a belief that by using their product the customer will be sure of healthy tooth! A soap company is not just selling soap, it is selling a hygiene, a watch company may not just be selling a time piece, it may be selling time discipline to some one, a medicine shop is not selling medicines, it is selling health, an apparel company may not be selling shirts or trousers only, its selling comfort and confidence, so on and so forth for any product or service that is made available in the business place!

If you are an employee of a company you are selling proper reporting, proper systems, correct documentation, right information, proper processes to your management! If you are a decision maker, your may be selling justice and need fulfillment to the deserving. Each one of is selling something some thing, some where today; it may be in cash or in kind! Its important to actually understand what business we are into and this realization will decide our success or failure. So what are you selling today?

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
http://www.aglakadam.com
Can be contacted on : info@fsindia.in

Shabash INDIA – WELLDONE Media October 3, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in EQ, International Issues, Life and all, My Letters, National Issues, Social Casue.
6 comments

Finally the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court did pronounce the judgement in the Ayodhya title suit and more than 24 hours over without even a single incident of violence recorded anywhere in the country. This unprecedented situation of peace, unity & harmony in
the country has been a big relaxation to the common man, the society, the business & also the international community. Surely a big part of this success can be attributed to the Indian media because toiday we all rely on media for getting the information from every corner of the world.

The government had taken proactive measures to ensure communal harmony irrespective of the court verdict. Many a advisories had been issued to the various sections of media to restrain caution while interacting with the public through press or electronic methods. News channels were asked to exercise restraint in coverage of the ruling. The high court had even officially asked media not to speculate about the verdict till it has the copy of the operational part of the order in hand. Bulk sms was banned and it was a smart government initiative.

Historically, the most common form of the spread of information has been word of mouth, “Did you know…” sentences keep moving around from mouth to mouth to a never ending destination. The use of technology has accelerated the pace of movement of news. No doubt the media today plays a highly significant role in this and its all around us – it may be newspaper, radio, tv, sms, internet. Infact the flow of information triggers or arrests the growth of our society. Without the support of media, its very difficult to disseminate information across the wide geography!

I am sure when we come to think of 26/11 we all can easily recollect the fires & flames seen and read widely in the contemporary print & electronic media. It was not long back that Indian media was accused of having exceeds its limits in reporting the issue. Reading reports about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai sends shivers down my spine even today. Rather than playing the role of a responsible medium & presenting a balanced and responsible coverage; what happened had stunned the impressions and conclusions of the world around.
Similar was the case of Gujarat riots when the psyche of the nation was fractured in number of ways. Hate waves ruled the nation and thousands lives were lost. Surely media today has demonstrated that it is a powerful medium for instigating change in the society.
My personal understanding is that the bulk of Muslim & Hindu masses in India are absolute peace loving. Though the Ayodhya verdict by its nature of ruling itself did not instigate large scale controversy, still it was sufficient enough to disrupt the nations working for at least a few days or months. Media could have played a very important role in manipulating the situation.

Ayodhya verdict has been a critical milestone for the nation globally as well. The international community was looking at India with a critical eye. Common wealth games ahead and also a heap of investments were at stake for an economy which is just on its way out of the recession.
Unlike past this time, image of the nation did not take a beating in the international community. The most vital reason for the nation’s image management has been the balanced media coverage. Since the international community’s medium of getting Indian information is English, they read only what the English media writes; which this time reflected angle of Indian secular
tradition.
Looks like our media friends, have been into the introspection mode and have delivered a face of responsibility to the nation. Not even a single channel nor a single newspaper spoke of anything about any event in past related to the Hindu Muslim disharmony. On the contrary
complete media was rife with stories of communal peace. I saw some channel telecast where a Muslim was shown serving the needs of a Temple & the Goddess statues in the temple! Stories in print were read about how Hindu’s have been respecting their Muslim friends religious beliefs and celebrating Eid with them.

This was very sensitive & appreciative on the part of the media that they behaved very responsibly. Every statement printed every coverage telecast was well balanced to my understanding & knowledge. In fact some units went ahead to sponsor advertisements
requesting people of the country to adhere to peace and also suggesting why peace is must for the nation.

It is the responsible & matured behavior of media that the prime concern of National unity and integrity seems to have strengthened post Ayodhya verdict. Nothing wase not blown out of proportion and only positive vibes went into the public. Media infact played a constructive role in promoting mutual understanding among the general public, nothing was found reported out of
vengeance.

In such a sensitive subject concerning the harmony and peace of the nation, media overall took a very transparent and vigilant stance. Ethical and Sensible journalism, Isn’t it? Shabash Media, once again congratulations. Keep it up….

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
http://www.aglakadam.com

Email : info@fsindia.in

PS : Any Media is free to reproduce the contents in this post in part or full without disturbing the intended message in the post.