Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pepsi Max is here; It's fizzier, Black & sugarless

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I saw an email some days back and immediately remembered my project of IMT days as well as the below post on my blog around March 2009.

"Yes, there are negative effects too if you introduce a new brand or some objections to it too. The cost of launching a new brand, the cost to company if the proposition fails in the market, etc.. But, if the product fails wouldn't it affect the image of Pepsi to an extent even if they withdraw fizzier Pepsi later on?? And if the cost of launching a new brand is too costly for Pepsi in these recession times why can't they start it with a limited edition which might have been called "Pepsi+" or "Pepsixyz"?? This might have helped them in covering up the extra costs to launch a new brand, etc and make sure that the product is placed well in the market", the post says.

This was what I felt strongly when Pepsi tried to replace Pepsi with a fizzier pepsi under the same name in the AP market an year and half ago. And, I strongly felt ans still feel that if pepsi can come with a new brand for the new variant(which it is experimenting with) it would benefit over replacing the drink in the same brand. This will make sure that atleast consumers of the drink Pepsi remains with it mostly and consumers of the drink ThumsUp or Coke would get attracted to the new brand. This is if the new variant clicks. And what if it doesn't?? Simple, Pepsi can always write-off the loss like a bad decision similar to the way they wrote off Pepsi Blue during one of the Cricket World cups...

And the mail said, "Hi Rajiv, We thought you might find it interesting that Pepsi Max is here. Pepsi Max offers consumers a great tasting Cola, with more strength, fizz, punch and an added advantage of no sugar designed for those seeking the ‘Maximum Kick, No Sugar’ experience! Check out the eRelease at http://pepsimax.webrelease.in Warm regards,..."

And finally, here is Pepsi Max which is a fizzier variant of Pepsi which is out in the delhi market to try and grab consumers of it's enemy Coke towards it rather than, the consumers of it's sibling Pepsi. And this makes me again feel that, sometime my brain really works and that too in a direction something that we can name as "Practical logic"...

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Open for Comments...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

From an Era of No-service to ignoring service

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If a mobile connection can be de-activated within a couple of minutes then, why can't it be restored in a couple of minutes??

If a telemarketing agency of a bank can reach the customer about some bullshit offers 5times in a day, then why does the same customer's mobile be in a "not reachable" state for the same bank's service team throughout the day??

Marketers argue that Customers should not be made kings in India. They complain on various grounds like customer's asking for too much.. But, they forget that it is due to the gap created by the same marketers in between the service provided in reality Vs the expectations created..

In the 90's, it took us months and years to get a telephone connection. And worst than that was a service requirement. You can forget about someone coming down to resolve a problem with your line/connection. Despite knowing these, people have applied for the connections and waited for months.. Similar logic applies to the banking sector w.r.t a bank account maintenance, cash withdrawal, deposit booking, etc., But, people still opened accounts and waited in queue for hours to get their turn.. and same is the case with almost all the related sectors.

The cost of the product was high, Focus of companies on service was very low, they exhibited as if they are willing to only provide low service and the customer's expectations are also on the same levels as the companies focus. Though we knew of this and the problems that we need to face with engineers of the telephone department or the long queues at the bank, we still went ahead to face it. This was done for different reasons like Comfort that you get out of having the service, pride, Lifestyle, etc.,

Later on came the new era(mostly private sector) companies, promising wonderful service in terms of speed, efficiency, comfort, Low Cost.. They started of well attracting customers with better than expected service delivery. We were able to get a telephone/mobile connection in a day's time. Any problem is solved over days rather than months. Different counters for different activities to reduce the time in a bank and so on.. The cost of product was medium, Focus of companies on service is good, they exhibited as if they are willing to provide medium/good service and the customer's expectations were raised to the medium levels. Though there were certain lapses at times, we adjusted to them seeing the change that has taken place. Service was a main focus area for companies at that time since, it attracted more customers and vice-versa apart from the cost structures..

This led to a huge belief in the these new era companies by more customers and this was followed by companies promising even further better and efficient services.. This led to attraction in huge numbers and in the process of ramping up the facilities and increasing the market share, the amount of focus on service has not moved up to the required levels. It's better to say that focus has been lost w.r.t the amount of expectation level created in the minds of customer. There came a huge mismatch between the expected levels and the actual experience. It, might not have been a active decision on part of the companies but, they still think that the amount of service being provided is the best that can be provided within the cost structure available. Which means that, they will never accept this truth and stop over-promising but, would still go ahead and neglect the over-promised service delivery. The cost of the product is low, Focus of companies on actual service remained on the medium levels, they exhibited as if they are willing to provide over-promised service and customers expectations increased to higher levels. Here the actual service delivered to the customer and the company’s display towards customer in the public had a wide gap w.r.t the expectation levels.

And, the cost structure never allows the client to compromise on service because, he/she has been promised all that huge service as a part of the low cost product. And it never really matters to him/her about how hard is your customer service executive working because, they never know the inside functioning. And to this were those companies coming back to same customer's with similar over-promising stories..

But, is everything related to only extra cost to be borne by the company to provide those extra services. In many cases, it doesn't mean so.. The burden of extra service to the customer has come along with the extra benefits provided by the same old product. Hence, many of these can be definitely avoided by the same smart marketing or activation techniques used by companies. But, only if they are willing to do so and if they are not, gods save them from the growing percentage of educated population in India. If we can answer some of the questions below in a positive tone, the work's half done.

If a mobile connection can be de-activated within a couple of minutes then, why can't it be restored in a couple of minutes/an hour/ during night hours??

If a telemarketing agency of a bank can reach the customer about some bullshit offers/cards 5times in a day, then why does the same customer's mobile be in a "not reachable" state for the same bank's service team throughout the day??

If an instruction is given to the service team on timings, how come the engineer on ground visits arrive at a time of his ease to leave a note saying "we missed you"??

Let's consider the telecom sector: Why can't a de-activated connection be activated immediately? We can simplify the process to activate immediately if payment is made through any mode and other back-end processes, checks be done at a later stage to make sure everything's alright. Why should the customer's suffer due to the low knowledge levels of front end executives in the store? We can implement a process to only allow the customer to suffer in absolute mistakes made by them rather than for errors made on part of the company executives / customer care like missing documents, signatures missing, etc., Vodafone is the best example for this.

In banking/logistics, why can't we centralize the systems or information across departments rather than each functioning on their own directives rather than on what customer wants? If we can buy/sell a mediclaim/insurance over a recorded telephone line, we should be able to cancel the same over a recorded telephone line rather than asking the customer to run behind our offices. These services are more applicable and prevalent with sectors such as telecom, financial services, electronics & equipment related, etc.,

As of now there are ways to solve issues related to service but, the process to take it to higher levels is cumbersome, and many are not that well aware, educated enough on the processes or to understand the same. Once, the educated population forms a huge chunk, the processes would be simplified over demand of customer's and it will become easy for a customer to sue the companies like other countries across the globe. Will they change themselves or wait for the process to get simpler to sue them??

Open for Comments..