Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vodafone Mumbai... Happy to (not) help

I strongly feel at times that "Happy to not help" would suit better than the original tag for Vodafone Mumbai customer care. Btw am not against Vodafone and it's services. I had post-paid connection for an year in Delhi from Vodafone. I never faced even a minor problem wrt any servicing issue. Right from the time of taking the connection to billing to call centre ccare executives to anything. I still remember, something related to my caller tunes or some other VAS also getting solved over minutes during the early hours arnd, 02:00Hrs.

But, in Mumbai it's absolutely upside down. Some of the patterns that I observed with the Vodafone Mumbai over the past 2 months are:

1. The form that we fill and the proof documents that were submitted goes missing from the hands of Vodafone people and without any communication, the number goes disconnected as if it was your fault.

2. The executive may forget to take your signature at a place in the form and the number goes disconnected again without any communication.

3. The executives at the store goes into the Manager's room in the store and makes the customers wait at the desk for hours.

4. You need to shout at the executives in the store to get your problem resolved and if you can't do that, you can opt to wait for 2-3 hours in the store. And to come out of the store with a solution will not take less than 2 hours.

5. The customer care executives on toll free (111) number are always very sorry for what happened but they can't help out in any way. And you are suggested to visit the nearest Vodafone store for any issue.

6. And when ever the number is disconnected it is done around 6PM in the eve. The stores close at 7PM and if you are lucky enough to reach the store before 6:30PM, the manager promises you to get it reconnected in 2 hours as they know that after 2 hours the stores are closed and they need not answer any issues. If you are not able to reach the store by 6:30PM, the call centre execs are again sorry for what happened but they can't help.

7. Address verification happens but still it appears pending on the systems for months. And they hope to get it resolved in the next 7 working days to activate any other services like ISD, etc. But, those 7 working days never end up.

8. I wonder why they give the waiting numbers to customers in the store when they don't follow the order. Have you ever learned that 115 comes before 95 and someone who doesn't have a waiting number is called before people still waiting for their turn standing since past one hour and this is just because the store manager knows the person well.

9. At any point of time only 75% of people work whereas the other 25% keep roaming here and there quite often though, there are lots of customers waiting. I wonder why 2 or 3 people leave their desk and keep peeping at other desk, chit chatting with others when there are customers waiting for their turn.

10. If you speak to any executive you may wonder if that exec owns the company called Vodafone. They can't solve the problem; they don't want the problem to be escalated to their superior as it might push the exec into soup. And finally they end up saying "If you meet my superior or anyone above him/her in the company they too can't help you out."

11. The Store Manager of any store is always on leave and the person whom you are sitting with over the computer desk is the person handling the store for the day.

12. The network/systems of Vodafone (either the call centre or at the store) are slow at any point of time on any day.

13. The Nodal Officer is too busy to meet any customer for 5 minutes at any point of time on a 24hour day. I seriously don't know then how is he able to live without at least 5 minutes of free time.

14. And the stores of Vodafone speak for themselves. Every time blocked with so many customers waiting for their issues resolved.

Mr. Sujit, please try changing the tag to "Happy to not help" for your Mumbai circle.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Missing out on basics of selling??

I have been worried about my shoes for the past few days. It has already been two years that I have changed my formal shoes and they started showing some signs of cracks. Finally, after a lot of thought process whether to buy a RedTape to use for 1 year or BATA for 5 months because of the Mumbai weather I decided to go with RedTape or Lee Cooper.

And I started my search for shoes with Lifestyle store at the Oberoi Mall in Goregaon. It has been offering 30-50% discounts on various brands in the price range of Rs.1000/- to Rs.5000/-. The sales executives invited us with a very caring attitude, and carried themselves in a way they should with the customers. Everything was fine in terms of quality of the shoes, brands available. But, there was some feeling from inside that stopped me from buying it from the store though it has huge discounts on the brand I need. It was a feeling that came from inside that I am not buying a new pair of shoes. The shoes were arranged in a systematic way on the hi-quality racks sort of things. But the way they looked is almost like they are 2nd hand shoes with dirt on some shoes, unpolished or looking old, etc.

Then, I moved on to Central store in the same mall. Found the same quality, brand shoes with the same discounts that were offered at the Lifestyle store. Though the sales executives are relatively less on the way they carried out, it did. It meant OK for me as they too are busy with so many customers in the store. But this time it's the size of my feet made me miss on buying a pair.

Next was the Mochi at Infinity Mall in Andheri. I entered the store where 2 executives were sitting along with in charge or manager at one corner. Some 3-4 executives standing at several points with no sense of feeling. They are almost equal to statues unless until, some customer asked them about the price or discount. It has been offering 50% discounts on several shoes and though the sales executive’s behaviour doesn't matter towards my buying behaviour, it was once again the way shoes looked and the way they are arranged. They were with dirt, looking old and need to search the whole table to find the full pair. One shoe lies at one end and the other shoe of the same pair lies somewhere which is to be searched for.

Next was the Metro shoes at Pheonix Mall in Lower Parel. There aren't any offers available on the brands that I wanted over here but still tried to look into them once. The sales executive invited the same way as in Lifestyle with taking my size asking about the type of shoes, range I am looking at and finally started showing different brands. Finally though it doesn't have any discount I settled on RedTape for Rs.2000/.

Though, I got the same pair and brands at LifeStyle or Mochi at 1200 bucks, I preferred to go with Metro for 2000 bucks. There are two reasons for these sorts of decisions that may take place with any customers.

1. SALE with a huge discount doesn't mean that customers buy anything despite the packaging or other features. It's one of the basic funda's I was saying about which a street side shoe seller follows everyday in the morning that biggies like LifeStyle and Mochi missed upon. Everyday morning before arranging the shoes for sale, he makes sure that each pair is shining which was opposite to that at the 2 stores.

2. SALE with a huge discount doesn't mean that customers will make themselves comfortable with the shoes in the store. Products like shoes are still different though it is sold in a Mall from the Apparels. Customer needs to get a sense of buying a product and this comes only when he/she at comfort which comes when someone accompanies them in showing/making them try the products like shoes. You may go to an Apparel store in a Mall and select some pairs and try it for yourself. But, in terms of shoes do you go, select some shoes which are arranged in a scrambled manner, search for pair, try them and ask someone to pack it. It's an absolute "NO" in realistic terms. This is the other funda which a street side shoe shop person follows and missed at Mochi.

SALE may not make a sale unless until you get your basic fundas right...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Breaking the clutter I: Kotak Credit Card

In today’s world, with so many products and services being launched every minute it has become hard for many companies to try and break the clutter. A very few campaigns break the clutter these days and here is one of those campaigns - Kotak Credit Card.

The pics show the way Kotak has reached the customers through the middle-upper class restaurants in Mumbai. You cannot get a better time rather than lunch or dinner, when people are in a relaxed mood. And you can't get a better time to push the message into customer's mind. This isn't a new thought but the way it reached the thoughts of customer is a bit new. The message making it correlated with dining/lunch - card offering discounts on dining at restaurants, card offering free coupons for lunch/dining.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How customers end up Swimming

(in the pvt. label brands of Pantaloons)

Swimming was never on my mind. At least not on the top 500 options during free time on my mind. But sometimes it just happens like that because, we get attracted at certain point of time and this can be called impulsive.

I, along with Narayan my Mumbai flat mate decided to go to the gym from evening. As we entered the gym, I have seen Sonam working out with the dum bells and I tried to find the thread mill but couldn't. I checked with other available items but couldn't find something that attracted my attention to let my body bend for the exercise.

And I jumped out of the gym as soon as possible and found Abhinash shouting out of the swimming pool ...Sona mil gaya, Sona referring to some golden ring type thing he found in the pool. And as I asked him about learning swimming he immediately asked me to jump in and he would try teaching me how to swim?? And the rest is history with me learning swimming in steps day by day.

As I told you swimming was never on my mind. But it happened. It happened because, I didn't find something impressive in the gym. Impressive in terms of the effort that I need to put and the result I get out of it. It happened because, I found that swimming also survives my requirement of reduction in weight as well as the size. And it happened in an impulsive manner. And this impulsive decision is almost similar to that of the impulsive behaviour you can observe in the customers of Brand Factory.

200+ brands, 25-50% discount on all the major brands and what else do you need apart from this? The same quality, brand at a cheaper price..... that's how Brand Factory is positioned... and most of those customers rush due to this perception in mind.

There are two major types of customers who go to Brand Factory. 1. People who have been using brands since years and want to buy branded items only. 2. People who have been using unbranded and low end brands who would like to go for the upper and popular brands when they come at such a huge discounts.

The first set of customers are accustomed to brands and they want only brands. There isn't much of a deviation in this segment. But, it's the second set of customers who are the focus of this topic. These people go to brand factory because of the above described perception of popular brands at huge discounts. But, once this set of customers enter the place they are attracted by the discounts over popular brands but, they are too much attracted towards the huge discounts over the private labelled brands of pantaloons. When compared to other brands they almost quote a rock bottom prices with various offers. This is the impulsive selection that's happening with this set of customers making them end up swimming in the pvt. labelled brands of pantaloons. Added to this is the confusion between brands like ITC’s John Players and Future group’s John Millers for people who are not that familiar with John Players.

They make an impulsive decision because, they found something impressive in the private labelled brands and they have the impression that these brands do survive their requirement.

What a way to sell your private labelled brands using the brand value of well built brands of competitors?? Only possible to few people like Biyani.... Kishore, you did it again..

Saturday, August 23, 2008

BSNL connection Vs i-ball laser precise mouse

Can you guess the relationship between the above two brands... BSNL & i-ball. If you see the present ads from these brands it has been the same concept behind the Ads. The concept where a girl rejects a boy during the engagement because of the reasons that they don't have a BSNL Landline or they don't use i-ball mouse.

Though it has been the same concept behind both the ads, the first seems to make the position of BSNL landline worse in the customer's mind where as, the second seems to make the position if i-ball strong in their minds. This is basically due to the timing of the Ads. It isn't the timing of release of ads but the timing with respect to the brand's journey in the market. If you clearly observe the i-ball ad brings a smile on the face of the customer where as, the BSNL ad brings a feeling of something crappy.

This sort of difference in the feelings a customer exhibits can be attributed to two factors. Just assume of something which you know that is not that efficient but someone tries to support it or assume of some peer whom you know is not good at the required skills but someone tries to support him/her. The immediate reaction that comes out of our mind is to oppose the support or the decision. Whereas, some new person is introduced to you as a brilliant or good at skills by someone and you will remember about the person and will try to observe his/her skills directly or indirectly. This is one of the two factors that I am talking about. BSNL is an old brand with the similar inefficiency whereas, i-ball is a new entry. In the first case you oppose it whereas in the second case you try to observe it.

And the second factor is about the person who introduces it to you and the mismatch between the both. In the first case there is a huge mismatch between the personality of Priety zinta and that of BSNL. Priety Zinta is someone who is accepted by most of the customers as a good actress which is almost opposite to the view about brand BSNL. In the second case though someone familiar hasn't introduced it, we are just keeping an eye on it where there isn't a mismatch. A neutral case is better than a mismatch.

What BSNL could have done in executing the idea is that, it must have used this IDEA after bringing some changes in its services and features to an observable level. But, trying to show the same services and features as something wondeful from a new angle is really a miserable idea.... And recently you have changed your brand ambassador from priety to Deepika and you expect it to do wonders.. C’mon grow up.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fashion @ BIG BAZAAR!! ??

Munna is a bit stunned and has brought out some beautiful expressions on his face as if something happened to him which is the worst till date in the whole world. These expressions are almost similar to that of the Zimbabwean bowler Olonga who was hit from all angles to the boundary by Sachin. I am unable to control my emotions and just burst out laughing crazily.

Praneeth(aka Munna aka Alludu) is a friend of mine since Class XI, with the same age as mine(23 years) standing 5ft 10inches tall with an average size weighing 65 Kgs. I'm 6ft tall with a bit huge size weighing almost 95kgs.

I, along with Munna was waiting at a bus stop discussing some stupid topic in the world. Meanwhile, a teenager with a structure almost similar to that of mine approached Munna and asked him for the route to Begumpet. Asking him for the route doesn't have any problem, the way he asked him made me laugh and the same thing made munna confused. His words were:

"Uncle, which is the road that leads to Begumpet from here??"

My friend took some time to recover from the confused state and by that time I reassured from him that he referred to Munna as Uncle and not me. I did this because in the past a doctor in Ghaziabad referred to me as a 31 year old person though am 21 at that point of time(a part of this credit goes to my dressing and the remaining to my moustaches).

As the boy moved away Munna started saying, "This stupid fellow seems to be like a mini elephant and he calls me Uncle. Thank god he didn't call me Grandpa. But, this is too disgusting. Am I appearing like an Uncle? Am I looking that Old or that bad?" In the next few seconds he started thinking of the dress that he wore. And there's the logic. The dress that he was wearing that day suited that bad for him which made him appear like an Uncle for the teenager and our next step was to move into Hyderabad Central to get a new pair of dress for him.

And that's what I am trying to speak about. The dress that you wear and your dressing style obviously brings a huge difference in the appearance as well as the image. It makes you look like an Uncle, a servant, etc., That's the same logic used behind the Ad "Fashion @ Big Bazaar" that we have been watching daily. An Ad which shows a watchman referring to a car owner as a thief and a teenage girl referring to another teenage boy as a thief. It's a simple logic but used in a wonderful way to highlight about the requirement of fashion in dressing.

But the other logic that's missing here is about Big Bazaar(BB). BB has been promoted till date as something "Accha aur Sasta"(Cheap and Best). And customers too are used to the same image with the products at BB. So, why are they trying to change the image of the Apparel section? Whom are they trying to attract through this campaign. Is it the same customers who walk into their stores daily? I don't think so because they do come repeatedly as they belong to the middle segment and their behaviour is something like this:

The Apparel section @ BB has whole range of products wrt cost. Customers who belong to this segment visiting the section would only buy those which are at the max costing them a mid price per unit. For ex: A trouser for Rs.500/- is worth buying from Big Bazaar with a pvt. label brand of knighthood. Similarly they will buy shirt worth 300 or 400 @ BB. These middle segment customers are happy with the Knighthoods, RIGs and they walk in continuously into BB as they don't find a suitable outlet giving them such pvt labelled apparel at that cost.

If they are trying to attract the upper segment which doesn't come to BB, it is worthless because of the available brands at those prices such as Peter England, Park Avenue, etc. This segment knows that, @ 600-1000 bucks they can get a branded one from a Brand factory or some other retail outlet such as Shoppers Stop. And they will not prefer buying a private labelled shirt for 500 bucks at Big Bazaar when they are getting a Peter England at the same price.

So, the campaign is doing nothing except, diluting the image of "Accha aur Sasta" to a small extent. Though it might be a small extent but why do you want to make an Ad and then promote it at a huge cost to dilute your brand. Absolutely Useless...

But, Brand Factory is another retail outlet of Future group where we get Apparels at all ranges with brands varying from Desi to International such as RIG, Van Heusen, John Players, etc. And Dhoni too might have been a good fit for the Brand Factory or else for Pantaloons other than Big Bazaar where he has been a misfit.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What an !dea? Seriously, a ****** !dea..

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that point of time. I have gone mad for a minute or so. I had a mixed feeling of humour, frustration, harsh, confused, etc.

It's around 23hrs30 mins.. almost midnight and everyone in my house are in deep sleep. I usually don't wakeup unless until someone wakes me up very hard or atleast an earthquake is required to wake me. "Wo chali Wo chali, dekho pyaar ki gali...." suddenly started and My dad gave a serious push on my head. I opened my eyes as if there was an earthquake and he said, "Your mobile is ringing. Take the call or just switch it off." I searched for it and finally found it under the pillows. I pressed the green button on my mobile and took it towards my ear. The mixed feelings, I was speaking about started in my mind for a while. Can you guess who called me at almost 12'0 clock in the midnight?

As the phone touched my ears all I could hear (in telugu) was, "Now you can make any local call/STD for just one rupee. !DEA brings you a wonderful offer. An !DEA can change your life..."(Ippudu meeru okka roopayike local call cheyyavachu. !DEA meeku samarpisthondhi oka adbuthamaina offer. Oka !DEA mee jeevithanne marchesthundhi....)

Can you just imagine about seriously getting up in the middle of a deep sleep at midnight to take a pre-recorded call from your cellular service provider. I am frustrated since few days with the pre-recorded calls from !DEA customer care. I have been getting such pre-recorded calls twice-a-day since a month or so. But after this call at the midnight the frequency has increased from 2 to 5 calls per day increasing the frustration level. I tried to contact the customer care already but, when I dialled the toll free number 9848012345, all I could get on that was:

“Welcome to !DEA prepaid customer care. To know your balance, please dial *111# after you finish this call and the details will be sent to you as an SMS very shortly. Now you can know your tariff plans through SMS. Type PLAN and SMS it to 3147. And the line goes dead saying "network busy." This went on happening for a long time.”

After repeated calls and trials, I heard the same message followed by:

Press 1 for PUK number
Press 2 for New information in !DEA
Press 3 for Recharge options
Press 4 for Dialler tones, GPRS & Value added services
Press 5 for Language change
Press 6 for Last recharge details

I waited for a while to get the 7th option of talking to a customer care executive to register a complaint about the problem but, couldn't find any. It seems that !dea has moved away from the option of using customer care executives. Now, I don't have an option to register a complaint and I left it like that only as it is only 2 calls per day. But, now it has reached 5 and I thought of moving ahead.

I checked out the !DEA website and could get a redressal mechanism for a complaint.(Refer Template 1 for exact mechanism description). As per the info given on the website I wrote a mail to the Nodal Officer describing my problem.(Refer Template 2 for my exact mail). And the reply was "Interscan MSS has quarantined a message-Content Filter." With no option left before me, I mailed the authority above the nodal office, i.e; appellate authority and can you expect the reply. It's the same reply as stated above. Now nothing left to do, I mailed the DOT (Department of Telecom) authority as given on the website for redressal. This time I haven't got any reply through mail but, got a call the next day.

The call is from New Delhi from the side of DOT, asking for my details to make sure that my problem is solved and from that day onwards, the pre-recorded calls are gone. Finally, it's a bit of relief for me.

Though I have been out of this problem, I couldn't understand why !DEA cannot maintain a process to register a complaint through the toll free number. The Customer Care department at !DEA needs to remember some basics.

1. Every customer cannot have internet availability to send an email to the nodal officer or cannot run to the nearest !DEA showroom always for such things. As soon as this happened, I tried out Reliance, Tata Indicom tollfree customer care numbers from my dad's mobile and Vodafone, Airtel from my friends mobiles. Your competitors are perfect in terms of having an option of talking to an executive to register a complaint. And of course, !DEA too has this facility in some places and it doesn’t follow the same in all the places. I checked out with the Delhi circle. It has an option 9 to talk to an executive but the Andhra circle as well as the Maharashtra circle(not Mumbai) doesn’t have the same.

2. You must atleast have a better checking system. I still wonder what has been "profane" in the mail I wrote to the nodal officer/appellate authority (Check Template 2 for mail) that a filter could see and is invisible to human eyes. I still beg you people to let me know if you see something profane in my message.

3. Never cross the limits of advertising. It doesn't matter much to many customers if the advertising through pre-recorded calls or SMS is within the limits or doesn't disturb them. It's a simple logic that noone can bear 5 pre-recorded calls per day and that too daily. And this is too stupid and crazy if you go with these calls at night times.

4. Try observing your customer behaviour. Many of these pre-recorded calls come from one or two specific numbers daily. And a large percentage of these customers cut the call as soon as they hear it as a pre-recorded one or they do so even without listening to it, as they already know the numbers. So, try observing your customer and try to switch the mode of advertising instead of these useless costs on the calls.


If you say, "What an !DEA - An !DEA can change ur life"

The customers may grasp it as, "What an !DEA - An !DEA can change my life as well as my connection too"

Template 1:;jsessionid=Lj9HnnDl1dvg5JtgnkttxRyg8pKlQ06hCFgP94qfKDWNvX3v2PNR!-1770988926?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=IDEA_Page_Consumer

Consumer Grievance Redressal Mechanism

To ensure timely resolution of any grievance that you may have, we have setup Toll Free Call Centre numbers at each of our circles. You may register your grievance at our Call Centres and we will ensure timely redressal of your Grievance. Toll Free Numbers

Incase you are unable to get a satisfactory resolution to your grievance on approaching our call centre, you may get in touch with our Nodal Officers in your circle. These Nodal Officers will ensure resolution of your escalations within 10 days. For any escalation being reported by you, we will provide you with a unique docket number as a future reference for the same. To get more information about our Nodal Officers, please click here

While our Nodal Officers will be ensuring resolution to your escalations, however, incase you are not satisfied with their response, you may in writing make an appeal with our Appellate Authority in the attached format. For more detail, please click here.

IDEA Manual of Practice for Consumer Grievance Redressal

For contact details of Public Grievance Cell setup by Department of Telecommunications, M/o Communications & I.T, please click here

Template 2:

"Dear Officer / Mr. Nandan Kumar,

This is Sajja Praveen Chowdary(9848XXXXXX), a pre-paid customer of IDEA Cellular Ltd. I have a problem with the pre recorded calls that I get from your side daily. Till some days back, it was like 2 calls a day that I get from you.
But now it has reached 5-6. I get 5-6 pre recorded calls from your side. And the worst part of it is that some times I have been getting this calls around 10'o clock or 11:30 in the night. It's absolutely rubbish and it annoys me in a big way.

I tried to contact the customer care through 9848012345 but it doesn't have an option to talk to any of the customer care executives to complain regarding the same. All the 6 options that I get in them are about language change, new plans, last recharge, etc. Sorry to use these words but still... What an Idea? What a bull shit idea it is? in not having an option to register a complaint or to talk to an executive for information.

I don't want to listen to any pre-recorded calls from the side of IDEA from today. Please resolve this matter immediately or let me know whom should I contact to get this done.

Thanks & Regards"

Open for Comments

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seriously planning for Business

I have been to Hyderabad a few days back to find out some details on the business that I was planning about. I met a Hyderabadi friend of mine, Praveen (aka Gabbar-that's what IMTians call him). We had a deep discussion about the plans and finally set out towards Hyderabad Central. We were on our way to the Mall in a city bus when, some crazy and funny ideas struck our minds. Though we aren't seriously looking at the businesses described below but the conversations went like this:

Me: Hey, I have a serious idea.

Ga: What's that?

Me: Every day we have been seeing in the news about the Land mafia.

Ga: So, are you planning to join them or to start a new gang?

Me: No, Let's have a temples mafia.

Ga: What's that?

Me: Let's take some of the temples into our custody and make it in the form of a business. So, let's start a temple that you know.

Ga: But all the famous temples are under the endowment board. So, it might not be possible and the small temples don't have that sort of revenue.

Me: Then, let's start a chain of temples and brand it.

Ga: Will the government accept this sort of a business?

Me: Nothing is impossible with this government's rule. Let us plan some share for the party in power.

Ga: Then we can even invite people to take franchisee. But, why should people come to our temples only?

Me: Let's brand them and advertise them.

Ga: ohhk.. we can do it in this way... Gabbar's temples-To & Fro ticket to heaven.

Me: Yah.. Gabbar's temples-Feels like heaven (copy from Raymonds)

Ga: Gabbar's temples-Connecting people and God too (copy from Nokia)

Me: Hey, don't shout. Other passengers in the bus may copy our so brilliant ideas.

Ga: Yes. They may. And let's even apply for a patent and copyrights for our brand.

Me: I have another idea.

Ga: What's it about?

Me: It's about the sanitary business. Many of those who are travelling or who come out on some work might get a nature call and would have some problem because of the worst maintained public toilets.

Ga: So, what are you gonna do? Do you mean to say that we will take a contract of maintaining and cleaning them from the state government?

Me: No, Let's have a toilets business. A chain of toilets like a chain of retail stores.

Ga: That's a shitty idea.

Me: Yah, that's what am speaking about. People need a better place to shit too.

Ga: But, who will give you so much of space. The land costs a lot.

Me: Then let's have a mobile toilet chain. We will have a van which consists of 10 toilets. We will park it in a street near to the famous places like Ameerpet, Koti, ABIDS, etc. And we will have a board on the main road showing a direction for the toilets. When the tank is filled or at certain times of low traffic, the van goes to the dumping area and comes back.

Ga: O.K. But will the government agree for this business?

Me: Yes. They should accept as this is a sort of social service to the community and they should give us a subsidy. They shouldn't ask us to pay taxes, etc.

Ga: why should people only come to our toilets.

Me: We will maintain it in a hygeine and a clean state. Let's advertise

Ga: Yes... Gabbar's toilets-"feel at home."

Me: Gabbar's toilets-A hygeine place to s(h)it.

Ga: Gabbar's toilets-"Recognised by the govt. of A.P."

Me: As this is a social service let's ask our favourite and famous politicians to open our organization and let's have them as our first customer. We will click a photo of them s(h)itting and pput posters across the city for publicity.

Ga: Ohh.. that's a great idea.

Meanwhile, we arrived at Lakdikapool stop and got down. I don't know what the other passengers sitting in the seats around us might have been thinking but I can guess a little bit. They might not have thought that we both are MBA graduates but they might have atleast once guessed that "We both are the missing patients from the Erragadda Mental hospital.

Important Note: We are seriously not serious and not seriously serious about these businesses. So, please don't leak these ideas out. And in case you want to be a partner in our business, you can contact GABBAR for that.
Open for comments

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Schizophrenic ?? or Psychophrenic ??

Yesterday, I was busy in reading someone's blog and suddenly a popup came out of gtalk. It says "Why are you Schizophrenic?" It was from one of my friends at IMT, Arabinda Subudhi. I immediately replied "What happened? I am not schizophrenic. My thoughts are schizophrenic."

Meanwhile I just remembered someone pronouncing my blog name as "Psychophrenic thoughts" and I immediately told Arbind that, "It's not psychophrenic. It's schizophrenic." And in reply to this came a link,

And it shows....

"Main Entry: schizo·phre·nia
Pronunciation: \ˌskit-sə-ˈfrē-nē-ə\
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin
Date: 1912
1 : a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behaviour —called also dementia praecox — compare paranoid schizophrenia
2 : contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes "

He saw the first meaning of it and got a feeling that, I am having psycho thoughts. It's the same feeling that many of my readers do have about the name of my blog. But if you have a look at the second meaning it says about the contradictory qualities or attitudes.

Actually I picked up this term from the book "We are like that only" by Rama Bijapurkar. She talks about how consumer India behaves and describes it as "the heterogeneity of a consumer base of sixty-two socio-cultural regions, twenty three languages, diverse food habits, climatic conditions and cultural orientations."

And hence my blog name stands for the thoughts that come across my mind with diverse conditions of the Indian consumers in picture. And am not psycho or I don't have any psycho thoughts.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Values & Ethics in Business?? An absolute Bullshit

"Who will remove garbage out of the dustbin daily? Why will he clean the drainage weekly? Will he do it for free saying that it is my duty to clean the drainage or the garbage? Where will the health department and the sales tax department go? The municipality garbage cleaning fellow and drainage cleaning fellow needs a Rs.1000/- each for doing their duty. The health department needs something. Else, you will have daily inspections in your shop. You need to pay the sales tax people something inorder to allow you in running the business smoothly. And meanwhile if the special squad visits, they need some 1-2lakhs. All these will be called miscellaneous costs and are compulsory for doing a business...." said an Uncle of mine.

I, along with one of my school friends have been seriously thinking and working for the past months over starting a business in the tier-III cities. And I have set some principles of my own in terms of running the business. I don't know whether if I can follow all these principles in the long term but have seriously thought of not violating them in the short term. Some of them include maintaining all the records perfectly, not violating the rules, no to child labour, not to make black money through the business etc.

Meanwhile we thought of meeting an Uncle who has some sort of experience in running a business and would like to invest, if our plans are good enough. We had a good discussion for an hour or so and finally he had a look at our proposed balance sheet. And he reacted immediately over the missing costs in the sheet and it went like this. "Who will remove garbage out of the dustbin daily?.................... All these will be called miscellaneous costs and are compulsory for doing a business." I told him about maintaining the business as per my principles and it might not cost me if I do so. And the reply was "These are the costs if you run your business within the rules and regulations. Just imagine where will your costs run if you are not within the boundary of rules."

After hearing to all this bullshit and daily observations from the society, I have been wondering about few things: First is to introduce a new column in the balance sheet named "Bribes", second id to remove the subject "Values & Ethics" from the B-School syllabus. The first one will do a benefit in at least giving a way for the people who want to be sincere in the society to be so. i.e.; If I want to do business in a perfect way still I can do so by showing my costs in the column called Bribes and will continue so that I need not make money in Black. If this is not available, I need to make some money off the accounts so that it goes in the form of bribery. Removing this subject called "Values & Ethics" which is absolutely useless in this scenario will save at least some time for the students.

I remember as per my theoretical knowledge that "Government and its policies are one of the macro factors in doing business" (from the strategic management subject). At that point of time for me the policies meant only the rules that they make and the regulations in the sectors. But now it seriously means a lot more to me. I have been slowly recognising that these policies are those which decide many other factors like these bribes in doing business. If the scenario continues in the similar way it would soon be called a macro macro factor (means the square of macro).

Seriously, it seems to show that the government is not even ready to allow people in doing the business in the right way. And if these things continue where would the entrepreneurial spirit of our people go?? It's those 2-3 lakhs profit which people look at when they start the business. If they can't even take it out of the business obviously, they need to step in the wrong way to make the ends meet. And if this is the situation in the tier-III cities, how worse would the situation be in the cities and towns below this level. And how will new business develop in the right way in the rural areas??

Open for comments.............

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cheers to Mr. Mallya

There has been a huge uproar in the recent days about sacking the CEO of RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore). Some say that Vijay Mallya should go back and just look at his liquor brands only and some even commented that Cricket is not that easy as you manage a liquor business or a company. Many experts feel that it isn't the mistake of the CEO if the boys don't play well. But I completely disagree with most of you people who are against Vijay Mallya and his ideas.

Ofcourse, Mr. Mallya hasn't got his basics right while selecting a team by giving the whole responsibility to the CEO and the captain. And see the team ... Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Wasim Jaffer, Sunil Joshi, Praveen Kumar, cameron white for $500,000. And these people have been a part of almost all the games RCB has played till date in IPL…

And as the team is already picked up and has nothing to do in the middle of a tournament, he needs to look at winning the games. That's what Mallya has done. Despite the huge failure in the first game against Kolkata Knight Riders, he has arranged a grand party for the team after their win in the second match to boost the confidence levels. This is something a good manager does. And he tried to boost the levels, sent a message across and still the team failed. He cannot sack the team members at this point of time as selling players will come into effect after the completion of the tournament. So, inorder to send a strong message to the team he sacked Mr.Charu.

Ofcourse, many of you have been feeling that Dravid must have been the first person to go but there isn't a chance of sacking dravid at this point of time or taking him out of captaincy which would really spoil the situation and that someone who needs to go out has become Mr.Charu.

So, if my assumptions go in the right way, Mr.Mallya is gonna look at how the team performs now and if doesn't change he is gonna use some more shocks to the team before the tournament ends like removing prasad as coach etc, and then after the tournament will look at selling these old ones and getting someone suitable for the T20 format and a coach who can look at the overall team and strategy.

It might not be a fault of a CEO if the boys don't play well but it is the fault of the CEO in selecting such a team. Ofcourse it isn't that big a fault if you select a team which you like but it is a fault if you can't get results from the team you selected of your own. That's the basic reason behind sacking the CEO, Mr.Charu Sharma. And it's his team and he has used his money and power to buy it. So, he has the authority to decide upon the team and the way it has to be handled. Atleast now, Mr.Mallya is taking the team into his hand rather than leaving it on the hands of the CEO or a captain.

Cheers to Mr. Vijay Mallya for taking such decisions.......

Saturday, April 19, 2008

State owned Vs the Private companies

I came across the line "BSNL losing 8% market share to private companies" on the e-paper yesterday. This reminded me of something that happened very recently and I said in my mind again "It's obvious and it should happen".

It should happen not because I favor the private companies but, it should happen for those who cannot connect with their customers in the right way. It should happen for those who cannot change with time. It should happen for those who think that their monopoly would continue because they are a state owned firm. It should happen for those having employees those who cannot understand the customer's needs. It has been heard very often about the functioning style of the the state owned firms when compared to the private sector firms.

I have been a bit addicted to internet surfing in the past 2 years of my life at a B-School and it’s a bit uneasy to be without internet to chat with friends, to read a bit,... When I reached my hometown, I enquired immediately about the availability of internet, but could only find one cafe in the town that too with a speed that is too slow and would atleast take 2-3 minutes to open a page completely. And someone told me of the availability of a broadband connection with BSNL.

Day 1: I got up in the morning and went to the BSNL office to take a broadband connection. I am invited into the office with an empty chair in the first room leading into another room with a person busy in reading the day's news paper. I asked him for information about the connection and he could only say "you need to apply and we will give the connection. Come at 3'o clock in the afternoon or tomorrow and AE (I don't know what it means, might be Asst. Engineer) will give you the details. I asked him "what are the plans and speed available?" and still he gave me the same reply "Come at 3."

Day 2: I went back to the office again and I came to here again that the concerned person is not available for the day and this time I found 2 people in the office with both of them busy in reading the news paper. I tried asking him about the speed, plans etc and the other person replied it is 2 GB. And I couldn't get anything out of it. I asked him "Are you telling me about the speed of the connection?" and he replied "Yes. 2 GB" I was shocked. How come in such a town is a connection with 2GBps available. I though either he must have bit a dog before coming to the office or the vice versa must have happened.

Day 3: I went to the office at around 3'o clock and I was asked to first apply for a telephone connection. This came as the second shock to me as, I was informed that telephone connections isn't required for the broadband connection. I took the application form and nothing to do as it is evening and we need to do the payment before 12 noon, I returned home.

Day 4: I went back to the office and this time I found an uncle (family friend) in the office and he assisted me a bit about the details. He asked us to take the telephone connection on the name of my mom as it would cost us less and we would get a caller id phone and many other benefits just at a deposit of Rs.200/- And as it is a limited time offer, the department people haven't informed me of this offer the earlier day. I immediately got the form filled and was asked to go to another office in the same town to pay the money and get the form signed from an officer of the same department and was told to do it immediately as they will not accept the payments after 12 noon as it was Saturday. I rushed to the office, and requested the officer for the same and he just simply replied... keep the form there and take it back on monday. We requested him and he said "It will only happen on monday." We left the form there and returned back to the first office, told the uncle about the same and gave the money for payment to him and came back.

Day 6: We returned to the office and found that the line is granted and the payment is done. And we were informed that the line would be fixed by evening. And immediately I got a 3rd shock. There is a policy in BSNL that any broadband application should go to the Bangalore office for approval and sent back to the town inorder to get a connection. And this would simply take one week said the gentleman at the BSNL office. And when my dad contacted the AE he said that they require a very thick cable for the broadband connection to be given and they might not be able to give a connection immediately even after the application gets back from bangalore because, they don't know by when they can get the cable. We retuned back to home and waited for the telephone but couldn't get it on that day. By the way my search for information on broadband was solved today after 5 days when my uncle made me talk
with a Joint Engineer in the near by city working with BSNL. He gave me all the information and it seems it is 128 kbps or 256 kbps speed with 2 GB download limit. I thought this is absolute shit speed but there's no other way out and I decided to opt for it.

Day 7: We waited for the BSNL person to come and fix the line but nothing happened.

Day 8: We waited till afternoon and then went to the office to know the problem and they said that our home is a bit far away from the existing line and they need to find out a way to give a line till our home. We told them that we will find a way for that and asked the person to reach home immediately. And he finally fixes the telephone and says you will be able to get the connection by tomorrow morning as it is already dark and we cannot fix the number system in the BSNL box on the road. And he absorbs 200 bucks as he puts it in his own way that "It's a fixed amount for a new line."

Day 9: We waited for the connection and a couple of calls to the person haven't got any results.

Day 10: Finally after a couple of calls again, we got the telephone connection and I was thinking of applying for the broadband connection the same day itself so that I can get the Internet connection by Day 18 atleast. At the same time I heard from my cousin that the BSNL broadband was worst and there's a new cable broadband connection in the town and it is far better in speed, download limits, etc.. than BSNL. I immediately contacted the person in charge for the cable net in the town and got the information about all the available plans immediately. I opted for a plan and told him that evening that I need a connection of 500 rupees plan (browsing speed 100Mbps, download speed 128Kbps, unlimited download). He told me that I will get the connection next morning.

Day 11: In the morning we had the cable net guy at our home. He immediately pulled the cord from the nearby box and he connected it to my system and he took the address proof, money and it's done... and I have left the idea of going for BSNL.

18 plus days to get a BSNL broadband connection Vs 2 days to get a private broadband connection with better features and less cost.

An employee who needs something personal(atleast 200 bucks) to give a sanctioned connection Vs an employee who does his work on time and doesn't expect anything personal.

An organization with employees who doesn't have any idea of the plans available, who make customers run between offices Vs an organization with employees well trained to handle queries.

An organization with employees who doesn't even let the customers know of the best offers of the day Vs an organization with employees who keep their customers informed of the latest offers.

So, whom would you prefer and definitely such companies are set to lose their market share and should loose and will loose.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Parking @ your own risk" says the security manager

Next time you park your car/bike at a mall or a private parking do remember that you are parking at your own risk and yes I do mean that, if any damage occurs to your vehicle no one is gonna listen to you or pay you. That's the absolute meaning of the line written below or on the back side of your small parking slip in tiny letters "Parking at your own risk" says Mr.Manu Sharma-the security manager at Great India Place Mall, Noida.

I and Siva were on my bike at the exit of the Great India Place Mall waiting for the other four bikes to join us from the parking lot. We waited for a while but unable to see them near by we returned back to the parking lot to see if there was a problem. I heard srinu one of our friends arguing with the guard that he is gonna break the glass of the car parked opposite and will the security people not care for it. And then we saw that the actual cause of his anger was the broken dome of his hero honda passion.

Last Friday, we planned an outdoor trip to the world of wonders theme park at Great India Place (GIP), Noida. We parked all the 5 bikes at the parking arena and went off to enjoy at the park for the whole day and followed by a dinner at Pizza hut @ GIP. When we returned back and saw the broken dome, it was so shocking to see the guard’s behaviour and the manager's answer for our question who's gonna replace to loss and why did we pay them 10 rupees or for that matter 30 rupees for parking? We asked the gaurd about the broken dome and the first words that came out of their mouth was "It is written on your slip that Parking is at your own risk." And after some amount of argument he says "It might have been broken before you parked it. What's the guarantee that it's broken here only?" Now we go in search for the broken piece of dome to see if we can get it around and finally we found it lying around the area we parked the bike and now he says "sorry, we can't help you." And as srinu questioned if he breaks the glass of a parked car or damage some other bike would then also say that it's Parking at their own risk, and finally the gaurd called on the security manager.

And in some 15minutes Mr.Manu Sharma, the security manager arrives on to the spot and as we explained him about the situation, he asked the gaurd if it is broken in the premises of parking or not and the gaurd says yes. The manager says I am sorry that this happened here and questions us "how can I help you?" As srinu asked about who should bear the loss and who will replace it and why did we pay the money for parking, the manager just replies that "The money is just paid for the space we provide for parking and if anything is damaged they are not at all responsible and this is just happening for the 3rd or 4th time since the mall is operational."

And finally after some arguments finally he says "I tell you that I know how to manage the security and we cannot return you anything in monetary or any other form and he just says go and file an FIR in the near by police station." He just returned our parking slip of that particular bike written across it "returned" and we don't know
if it is a printing error or something else it isn't written on that particular slip that Parking at your own risk. And as we asked him for details of his mall manager and he asks us to come tomorrow for the details. And finally he lets off by giving a land line number and by just saying that he or the security personnel cannot give anything in written that the dome is broken in the parking premises.

As Srinu told the manager on the face that "you say that you know to manage but you aren't able to manage it and there should be a difference between parking it at your mall and parking in front on a road." The Basic problem here isn't about should the Mall owner pay for the damage or not, it's about whether are they able to manage
it properly or not.

I have been to quite a number of malls during my summers on real estate. Almost everywhere I observed the way the parking is taken care of which is dissimilar to that of the way it is handled at great India Place. For ex., Shipra Mall at the shipra Sun city has 4 long rows of 2-wheeler parking. It has two guards handling two rows each. The Gate where we pay the money or take the token is far away from the parking and it has one gaurd on either side to give or take the parking slip. For that matter it might be at the East Delhi Mall or the Pacific Mall at the Delhi-Ghaziabad border they too have a similar type of arrangement where the parking is in the basement and the collection point is the gate. The Basement has guards at various places handling the long rows of vehicles parked.
But the arrangement at the Great India Place (Gate5 - the place we parked) has an L shaped parking with the four rows running into a long queue. There are two guards standing on either side. two guards on the entry side and two on the exit side. And no one at the long L shaped queue of vehicles. And the manager knows how to manage it... And he says we cannot allocate one gaurd per vehicle in the parking lot.

Mr.Manu - You need not allocate one gaurd per vehicle and the others haven't allocated it too but they do manage. And it might have been 3rd or the 4th case among lakhs of visitors, but still it matters for them and the customer expects a bit of security too.

Tomorrow, I plan to break the glass of the costly car of your owner parked in your parking lot. And what will you tell him - "PARKING AT YOUR OWN RISK."

I don't know if Unitech is managing the mall or it has leased the mall management to someone else, but never expected such stupid stuff from them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally am an MBA

144 Quizzes, 72 exams, 100+ presentations, 200 case studies, countless discussions, bhasads, daaru parties, sleepness nights, night outs, movie sesions and b school comptts, 60 pre placement talks and infinite instances of planning to change the world.....and finally...I am an MBA...a 5 point someone!

2 years of IMT life will be there in my heart forever. Here are some of the words or phrases that we often get to here at IMT.
Quiz ee start
case study
mess food (same crap everyday)
chole kulche (referring to the kulche wala outside the gate)
Grade loss
Password type kare*
Jango sir* (refers to the doggie that keeps roaming arnd the campus)
Cmon' frnds.. Add up to this list for the missing words in your comments*.