Friday, December 7, 2007

What is customer service?

With almost 5 years of customer support experience with me, I thought I should share my views on customer service with everyone. So, here I am writing an article in my blog after a long long time.

Customer support according to me is the best means of advertisement for a business. I feel quality customer service helps retain existing customers and the good will generated attracts more customers towards your firm. And if you don't provide quality customer service, existing customers will start looking for other options and disuade potential customers as well.

I have also learned that most customers do not mind if their problem is not resolved at the very first instance. For them what matters is that someone is listening to them and empathizing with them. Also, customers hate to keep following up on an issue. If the follow up initiative is taken by the firm, the customer feels really good. Customer support is less of talking and more of listening. The reason why listening is important is that you will have more information at your disposal. The more information you have, the better it will be to solve a problem. I think we could compare this with arithmetics. In arithmetic the unknown factor is considered "x". Suppose x=a+b+c. The value of x could be found only if we know a, b and c.

Also more direct the communication the better. I have noticed that emails fail to convey the right emotions. Emails are fine when you have to give technical details for reference. But on any given day a telephonic conversation would be a better option for assuring a customer. An issue that may take 3-5 emails to and fro, could get resolved instantly over a telephonic conversation just because of the fact that it is more interactive. The person sending an email may not be able to understand how the person would interpret it. However, in a telephonic conversation clarifications can be sought, the gravity of the problem could be understood and thus an effective solution to the problem could be provided.

I would like to conclude with a nice quote which conveys the right attitude that a customer support person should have:

To my customer.
I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.
I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dalai Lama - the unwelcome guest

The Federal Cabinet secretary K. M . Chandrashekar in his letter to the ministers directed against being part of the function organized by the Gandhi Peace Foundation and the All India Parliamentary Forum for Tibet to honour the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. The reason being that it is not in conformity to the government's foreign policy.

One of the prime reasons the Left parties are opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal is to ensure that another nation (US) does not have influence on India's foreign policy. However, the decision to ensure that ministers of Indian Government are not part of a function to honour Dalai Lama, the goverment was trying to please China. Is this not allowing a foreign nation to have influence on our foreign policy? Is this what the left parties mean by independent foreign policy? The Left parties are all for pro China government policies just because of the fact that a communist government is ruling there. I have nothing against China. I feel that India should not become a tail wagging pet. Neither for the US nor for China. The government of India has again succumbed to the blackmailing tactics of the Left parties. This was what I feared would happen.

I would like to see a powerful India which demands what it rightly needs for development. Hence, if the Indo-US nuclear deal would help us develop we should go for it, unlike the Left parties who have a narrow minded approach towards the deal.

Similarly, why should India say or do things to please any country. Why should it fear China? We are not hostile towards China. We should continue developing good trade relations with China without compromising on India's right to take it's own decisions.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My opinion on Leadership

A leader should be a father when it comes to discipline. He/she should be a mother when it comes to caring. A teacher when it comes to imparting knowledge. A guide when it comes to showing the right path. A friend when it comes to personal issues.

A leader is someone who leads from the front. He should set an example so that people follow him with faith. If he expects his team to be sincere and committed to work, he will have to show the same sincerity and commitment towards work. If a leader expects his team to do whatever work is assigned to him, then he too should take up any task when the situation demands so that the team feels motivated.
A leader should be a great listener and a good observer too. He should be patience personified. He should be proactive in making decisions and solving problems. He should have a democratic approach towards decision making. When he involves his team in decision making, he makes them feel important. This will reflect in the way they approach their task.

When two people work together difference of opinion is bound to happen. So, just imagine a team of 10 or more people. The chances of misunderstanding and clash of views is inevitable here. Here the leader has to play a very important role. He has to bring about consensus within the team and make the team understand what the objective of the team is. He should be able to convince the team that the decision being taken is in the larger interest of the team and one that will help them achieve their targets. This would lead to a positive reaction within the team even if their opinions and decisions were not considered. If they know why their opinion was not considered, they will not react in a negative manner.

I would like to end with a nice quote on leadership:

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. "
-Dwight Eisenhower

Monday, October 15, 2007

UPA takes U turn on Indo-US Nuclear Deal

The UPA government which was so vocal about seeing the Indo-US Nuclear Deal go through, ultimately bogs down to the Left parties demands. They are not ready for elections and if they went through with the formalities for the deal, election was inevitable. However, my concern is not about the Nuclear deal falling flat. My issue here is that if the Left parties were so concerned about national security what were they doing when these talks were initiated by the UPA. At that time no one opposed.

All the time, energy and money spent for the deal is now a big waste of public money. The fear of election, the fear of losing the government all resulted in the UPA taking an about turn. The honourable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the President of the Congress party, Ms. Sonia Gandhi both were very vocal in their support for the deal. But now it is all history. Now India is in a very embarassing situation. The world was watching all the events very closely.

It is only the Left parties that benefit from the current situation. They now know that the UPA goverment is nothing but just a puppet in their hands. They know how to pull the strings to make the goverment take decisions according to their will. The thing I really hate about the Left parties is that they never be part of the goverment at the Centre. This attitude of theirs I feel is to ensure that they get all the benifits of the good work done by the goverment and at the same time shy away from taking responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

The last thing I would like to see is a goverment of the Left parties at the Centre. I do not like any of the political parties in India. However, I hate the Left parties for the way they are handling the states they have a strong presence in. They are anti-development. In every other party there are individuals who are pro-development. They may be limited in number but atleast they are there. I wish I could say the same about the Left parties.

Monday, October 1, 2007

SC vs. DMK - A bandh call, legal or illegal?

It hurts to see a state government and the judiciary at logger heads with each other. This is what is happening because of the stand taken by M. Karunanidhi, the Chief minister of Tamilnadu and the veteran leader of the DMK over the Sethusamundaram project. It all started after the Archaelogical survey of India (ASI) filed an affidavit on Ram Setu (Ram Setu or Adam's bridge is believed to be a bridge made by Lord Rama to cross over to Lanka in his efforts to rescue his wife Sita). The ASI questioned the very existence of Ram in it's affidavit. This prompted a huge backlash from BJP. After all Ram had helped them gain power. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too came out strongly against the affidavit. They strongly opposed the affidavit filed by the ASI. The UPA government withdrew the affidavit immediately as it hurt the religious sentiments and faith of the Hindus.

But the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu continued to question the existence of Ram. He went to the extent of saying that was Ram an engineer and if yes from which college he completed his engineering course to have built such a bridge. This statement was totally uncalled for from a person holding a high post of that of a Chief Minister. His personal beliefs on the existence of Ram cannot be imposed on the larger Hindu population who strongly believes in his existence. Will the DMK chief ever dare to make a similar statement questioning the existence of Mohammad Paigambar or Lord Jesus Christ? No, he won't.

Whether Ram existed or not is something that cannot be proved. But then there are many things in this world that is believed to have existed and not proved to have existed. Even many scientific beliefs are based on so many theories. Theories may not be true. They too are assumptions made by scientists. They believe that the theories are true. If you ask those scientists to prove that they are true they may not be able to do so.

The BJP leaders and M. Karunanidhi had verbal duels over this issue. BJP office was ransacked by DMK supporters. M. Karunanidhi decided to call for a Tamilnadu bandh on 1st of October, 2007. The AIADMK headed by J. Jaylalitha went to the High court first. The High Court did not take exception to the Bandh. Then the AIADMK approached the apext court (Supreme Court) on Saturday. In a special hearing held on Sunday, the Supreme court declared the Bandh as illegal. However, the CM of Tamilnadu decided to go on a hunger strike from dawn to dusk. The people are confused as to venture out or not. It is still a bandh like situation. The SC has now asked the Centre why Presidential rule cannot be imposed based on the stand taken by M. Karunanidhi.

A more rational approach M. Karunanidhi could have taken would have been to make a statement saying that if Ram would have existed today, he too would have supported destruction of the bridge if it would have been a hindrance to development. Though I personally feel that if there is an alternative way that ensures that both religious sentiments and development is not adversely affected, we should go for it.

A bandh is not the right way to protest. Anything that affects normal life adversely cannot be considered legal. Common people have to suffer because of bandhs or hartals. The state of Kerala is the best example where people have to suffer a lot because of hartals called by one political party or the other. I compare bandh and hartal calls to kidnapping or hijacking. It is like holding someone captive to demand something. In other words, a bandh and hartal call can and should be equated to terrorism.

Monday, September 24, 2007

India wins the inaugural 20-20 World Cup title

India beats Pakistan to claim the first ever 20-20 World Cup Title. The Final match was a roller-coaster ride. Pakistan looked in control after it restricted India to a total of 157 in 20 overs. It also looked in control when Imran Nazir was hitting the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground. However, after his exit India was back in the game and seemed to be cruising along to victory. But then Misbah-ul-haq was standing tall and he almost swung the pendulum in Pakistan's favour. Just when Indian fans were thinking that the match is lost, Misbah-ul-haq's wicket falls and India wins.

How it all began?

India won the toss and elected to bat first. It is always crucial to win the toss and elect to bat in an important match. Chasing in a world cup final is not easy at all. Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again took the wise decision of batting first. However, the Pakistan bowlers bowled a tight line and length and never let India to take charge. Yusuf Pathan came in as a replacement to the injured Sehwag. Yusuf Pathan is Irfan Pathan's elder brother. He is a good hitter of the ball and bowls off-spin too. He hit some good shots but lost his wicket early. Gautam Gambir continued to be solid. Robin Uthappa gave away his wicket early. Yuvraj Singh or should I say the six hitting machine also could not continue his good work. Umar Gul took his wicket. Umar Gul was the pick of the bowler for Pakistan. All Pakistani bowlers bowled nicely. They kept the Indian Tigers from cutting loose.

It was Gautam Gamhir's 75 and Rohit Sharma's 30 that brought India to a respectable total of 157 for the loss of 5 wickets. Pakistan did a great job of restricting India. As always chasing in a final of a world cup match is not easy at all. But then the Pakistani's started off well. Though Mohammad Hafeez lost his wicket early, Imran Nazir was hitting sixes and fours and laying the foundation for a Pakistani victory. The hearts of Indian fans was sinking like the Titanic. Kamran Akmal was clean bowled by Rudra Pratap Singh. Imran Nazir was run out by an accurate and direct throw at the stumps by Robin Uthappa. Younis Khan too literally threw away his wicket when he should have played sensible cricket. Shahid Afridi was out for a duck, caught by Sreesanth of the bowling of Irfan Pathan. But Misbah-ul-haq was still there. He is a dangerous customer. He started hitting sixes and Sohail Tanvir gave him good support. Harbhajan and Sreesanth were targeted in particular.

Sohail too hit few sixes before getting bowled by Sreesanth. Umar Gul lost his wicket trying to hit R P Singh. Wickets kept falling at the other end but Misbah-ul-haq seemed still in control.

The match went into the last over of the match. Joginder Sharma was given the ball. He initially bowled a wide bowl. The next ball was hit for a six. But the next ball he bowled was the one that helped India defeat Pakistan. The improvisation made by Misbah-ul-haq to hit the ball over fine leg got the better off him. He was caught by Sreesanth and Misbah was disappointed to have thrown away the match from a winning position. He just needed 6 from 4 balls but could not keep his patience. The catch taken by Sreesanth decided the World Cup champion.

Misbah-ul-haq is devasted after losing his wicket. He could have easily won it for Pakistan.

The whole Pakistani Team could not believe it that they lost the match as they were so close to winning it.

Indian team marshalled by Mahendra Singh Dhoni has transformed itself into world beaters. Dhoni has emerged as a great leader. Young players like Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma blossomed under Dhoni's captaincy. The cool headed nature of Dhoni seems to have rubbed over to it's team members. Everyone chipped in one way or the other in every match played. First time India was not depending on the stars to win the match for us. All 11 players contributed throughout the series. It was a team effort in real sense.

Irfan Pathan along with his brother Yusuf Pathan. Irfan Pathan was awarded the Man of the match for taking 3 crucial Pakistani wickets. Irfan Pathan has come back well after being dropped from the ODI team.

Yusuf Pathan and other team members celebrating the win. Indian team members were very excited after this victory and rightly so. After 1983, it is for the first time that the Indian team is holding the world cup in their hands. It was a long wait after coming close under Ganguly's leadership.

The victory run by the Champions. It was a great sight to see the Indian tri-colour flying high.

Champagne being uncorked. Every Indian Team member is soaked in Champagne. After all it is time to celebrate this great victory.

Let the world take notice of the new world champions. I am sure the Indian team will continue the winning streak under Dhoni's leadership. There are many positives to take from this 20-20 World cup. Young players who stood strong in difficult siutations. Rohit Sharma is one of the best finds for India. He is just 20 yet he played such a mature innings. He scored quickly and yet was always in control of the situation. This is how champions play. No matter what the situation,they play without fear. I am sure the Indian Team will continue to play fearless cricket in the coming days.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kangaroos sent back home by India

Unlike the first semifinal of the first ever 20-20 World Cup played between Pakistan and Newzealand, the second semi final played between India and Australia was a thriller. It was the clash of the titans. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first. It was a wise decision to take because chasing in big matches is not easy at all. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir started off slowly but steadily. They didn't add runs quickly but they ensured that wickets were intact.

After the exit of the openers the six hitter Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa took charge of the situation. Yuvraj started off from where he left in the match against England. He had hit the fastest fifty ever in any form of the game against England. Six sixes were hit by him in one over of Stuart Broad. In the match against Australia too he started hitting sixes at ease and one of the sixes he hit was the longest by any batsman. The ball travelled 116 metres. Yuvraj scored 70 of just 30 balls. Robin Uthappa gave him good company before getting run out by an accurate throw at the stumps by Andrew Symonds. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma continued the good work and helped India reach a total of 188 runs in 20 overs. Rohit is the youngest player in the Indian team but shows good composure in pressure situations.

The total seemed good enough but when you are facing the mighty Australians you cannot sit back and relax thinking that they won't be able to make it especially when they have Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden as openers. Indians didn't give away too many runs initially.

However, the Australians didn't lose any early wickets either. Moreover, both their explosive openers were still at the crease. Adam Gilchrist and Hayden started hitting balls to the boundary and over it. Sreesanth took the wicket of Gilchrist when he was starting to get dangerous. Mathew Hayden and Brad Hodge then scored briskly but he was caught off the bowling of Irfan Pathan. Andrew Symonds joined Mathew Hayden and they both hit sixes and fours.

Again it was the turn of Sreesanth to give the break through. He clean bowled Hayden and set the stage for an Indian victory. Mike Hussey joined Symonds and they were inching towards victory. But Irfan Pathan took the wicket of Symonds to slow down things.

Rudra Pratap Singh bowled a nice line too and didn't allow the Aussies to score. Harbhajan took the wicket of Stuart Clarke. Clarke is a dangerous customer too. He can win a match for Australia from any difficult situation. His early exit ensured that Australia didn't get another chance to go for a win.

Joginder Singh too bowled nicely. Joginder was bowling yorkers and low full tosses and didn't give too many runs. He clean bowled Brett Lee but India already had the match in it's kitty by then.

Harbhajan Singh with the stump in his hand after India made it to the Finals of the 20-20 World cup.

Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni hugging each other after the victory. Yuvraj was awarded the man of the match award for scoring 70 runs of just 30 bowls.

The Indian Team in a huddle celebrating after defeating the 3 time ODI World Cup Champions in the semi-finals of the 20-20 World Cup. They are now looking forward to the Finals against Pakistan and start of as favorites to win the Final after the solid performance against Australia.

Friday, September 14, 2007

India beat Pakistan in 20-20 World Cup Encounter

India beat Pakistan to win the first encounter between the two in the 20-20 World Cup. India Pakistan encounters have always been closely fought and it just cannot get better than this. The match was a tie but unlike in other forms of cricket, 20-20 matches now have a way to decide the winner by bowl-out similar to penalty shoot outs in football.

India was put into bat by Shoaib Malik, the captain of Pakistan after winning the toss. India lost four wickets in quick succession. But Robin Uthappa or should I say Robinhood hit few sixes to bring India back into the match. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain for the shorter version of the game too played a solid innings. In the end Irfan Pathan hit few sixes and Ajit Agarkar hit some boundaries and brought India to a respectable total of 141 runs.

Mohammad Asif was the pick of the bowler with 4 wickets for just 18 runs. He was awarded the Man of the match though his efforts were in vain since Pakistan lost the match.
India bowled and fielded well but Pakistan came close to victory. In the last 2 balls, Pakistan needed just 1 run to win. Sreesanth bowled nicely. The first of the last 2 balls was a dot ball. The second ball the batsman ran but was run out and the match was at a tie with both teams on identical scores.

However, a bowl-out was going to decide the outcome of the match. It is similar to penalty shoot out in football. Here 5 bowlers from each team bowls at unguarded stumps and try to hit it. The team with the maximum number of hits out of 5 chances each that they get, wins the match. From India, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa all were successful in their attempts to hit the stumps.

But from Pakistan, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat and Shahid Afridi all three missed the stumps and thus Pakistan lost the match.

The Hero for India was Robin Uthappa who scored his 50 of just 39 balls. In the end he hit the stumps also in bowl-out to help India win the

India continues to have an unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cup matches.

Chak De India!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Role of the Media

In the information world of today, the media plays a big role in influencing the society. Indian government is very much liberal when it comes to the media. However, today the media especially the news channels are stooping too low to increase their TRP ratings.

At times I fail to realize that I am watching a news channel and not an entertainment channel. I understand that there is nothing wrong in reporting of popular reality shows on news channels. However, today these news channels end up devoting more than an hour on telecasting video shoots of reality shows. Is this what news channels are supposed to do?

A very recent incident of how 16 year old Adnan's Patrawala's killing was somehow influenced by the role played by news channels is the best example of how things could go wrong if the media does not behave in a responsible manner.

Adnan met 3 guys in some Pool club 6 months ago. By these regular meet they came to know all about Adnan & they planned to trap him. They created fake id of “Angel”(girl) & posed to Adnan in Orkut community & lured him. They arranged all things & told Adnan via “Angel” that come near some mall if you want to meet me in person . Adnan went & they abducted him . They rang up his parents & demanded ransom.The 1st call was considered by parents as a prank , but after 2nd call they realise what the situation is. Parents registered complain in Oshiwara police station , police got into action but news got leaked to news channels & all National news telecasted the story of kidnapping. The kidnappers panicked & killed Adnan. Though police manged to catch all 3 , an innocent boy lost his life in the bargain.

I heard one news channel blaming Orkut for the murder. A knife is used in the kitchen to cut vegetables and the same knife can be used to kill a human being. Will you ban the knife from use in kitchen because it was or can be used to kill someone? The media could have come up with ways to educate people on safety measures to be taken while using social networking sites like Orkut instead of putting the blame on orkut. This way they could have portrayed themselves in good light.

The media is quick to pounce on governments, police officers, government run organizations for not behaving in a responsible manner. Then what about the media. Are they not supposed to behave in a responsible manner?

The media has played many positive roles too. Highlighting the issues of corruption, illegal activities, drug abuse and many more. I hope they stick to that role and not be a cause for panic and chaos in the society.

Food Adulteration

Adulterated food and the magnitude and scope of adulteration is a big cause of concern. Adulteration of milk and milk products, synthetic milk and milk products being sold, dead chicken from farms making their way to the kitchens of restaurants are a big threat to the health and well-being of society. Just for the sake of making quick money people are risking the lifes of so many. They do not realize that the same adulterated food made by them could end up in their food chain by some way or the other. And the money earned by them making and selling adulterated food might not save them from the consequences caused due to consumption of such food.

I hope the administration takes note of this and takes steps to ensure that quality of food products are not compromised with.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Indo-US Nuclear deal - Is the Left right?

I do not understand the Left parties. I never did and I have stopped trying to. What were the left parties doing when the Indian government started negotiations with the US government on the Indo-US nuclear deal? Were they sleeping? When the deal is in the final stage they wake up from their slumber and are opposing the deal.
They consider this as an opportunity to show how vulnerable the Indian government is without their support. I consider this as blackmailing. The failure of this deal will make Pakistan and China happy. I am not pro US or anti China. However, if the Indo-US nuclear deal is for the benefit of the nation then why not go for it. India's energy requirements have to be taken
care of. If the nuclear deal takes care of this then we need to go ahead and finalize the deal.
With friends like these (Left parties), the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) does not need enemies. I consider the Left parties stand on the nuclear deal as anti-national.