Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Asif...

I dedicate this blog to Asif and to CRM. Its not obsession that drives me to write another blog on CRM but an honest experience. I am not in the habit of walking around scrutinising every flaw with the world around us, I am only voicing my concern.
Its Asif’s birthday today. Last night, 60 minutes before the stroke of midnight Asif and I had gone to café coffee day on 100ft road to catch up on the past weeks happenings and to grab a quick mid night snack. As a part of his birthday celebration I went into the coffeehouse (leaving him sitting outside) on the pretext of using the washroom to surprise him with a birthday jig.

"My friends birthday is in the next 50 mins is there anything you guys do for birthdays. " I ask the waiter.

"Sorry Mam we don’t have birthday celebrations here" replied the waiter at the cash counter.
"Its not a Birthday bash, there are only 2 of us. Could you get him a slice of the yummiest cake available here with a candle and sing for him as well…I’ll sing along."

"Sorry mam we don’t do all that here."
"Well ok atleast deliver the cake and coffee to our table outside and wish him happy birthday, thats the least you can do for me."

"Sure mam I’ll tell the waiter to do that for you."

"Thank you, that would be nice."
I rushed back to the table.
"Dhivs did you order our coffee?"

"Yes I…"
"Happy Birthday MAM! Have a great year ahead" announces a rather pleasant looking waiter. Asif looks at me all baffled and I look at the waiter.

"Its his birthday, why would I order my own birthday cake"

I was rather embarrassed now, the waiter was looking stupid himself and Asif was rolling with laughter.

"That is so cute of you Dhivs!" exclaims Asif to break the awkward silence. The now goofy waiter takes a cue and escapes.
Well it sure was a joke and we kept laughing through the night.
All coffee houses sell an ambiance and so does Café coffee day it is a place one could be himself and not put up a facade, a place where one could unwind after a long days work either alone or in the company of his friends, a place where one could read, play board games or do business.

For me it has been a place where I have bitched, gossiped, strategised, ideated, or simply procrastinated for hours. I have enjoyed my time with friends or in a company of a book at that place. And after last night I felt a little let down, after all I have been a loyal customer.

Coffee retailing has seen a stupendous growth in the last few years. Café coffee days, Baristas and qwiky’s have mushroomed in every street, it has been further accelerated with foreign players like Starbucks and Costa coffee threatening to enter the Indian market. Putting up a stiff fight requires deep pockets and in such a scenario its important that coffee houses not only provide value for money but also go beyond the expectation of their customer.
I understand that the waiters must have been quite tired after a long days work, they must have been exhausted after smiling the whole day at the most annoying customers however, they could have sung the happy birthday song (even if it was just a cacophony) and could have wished the right person and could have made Asif’s birthday special.

CRM is not just about making and keeping a customer (like I had published in my last blog) but it is also about going beyond the expectations of the customers and thus keeping all other competitors and substitues at bay.

I will still go back to Café coffee day and unwind and not let this incident sour my ties with them but in my head this place has lost its charm and I would also think that probably a Barista is a better option for the next birthday celebration.

And Happy birthday Asif have a smashing year ahead!


Friday, February 17, 2006

Did you forget to wish someone this valentine?

Ferns and petals sure did forget to wish many on Valentines Day. Many Internet portals failed to deliver gifts ordered by people online for their loved ones, this valentine. Obviously these portals had a sudden rush of orders for the 14th of February and had to work over time to live up to the promise but its all about CRM.

My flatmate Tanu in Bangalore distraught by the fact she was not with her boyfriend on valentines decided to surprise him by sending him flowers and chocolates. So she placed her order with Ferns and petals thinking, they are a good and trusted online portal (hmm I wonder why).
The flowers and chocolates don’t reach her boyfriend on the 14th Feb but on the 15th.

Well what was the point anyway, her boyfriend opens the door on 15th morning and a chirpy delivery boy goes ‘Happy Valentines Day Sir’…someone please tell him it was yesterday.

When Tanu frantically calls to check on the 14th why the order was not delivered she is faced with a rude customer care executive in the e-commerce division who bluntly tells her – ‘Sorry mam we are over booked’.

‘Then put it on your website that you are overbooked and stop taking orders’ retorts Tanu to a dead line and they further more refuse to pick up any of her calls despite trying over a zillion times.
In most management and communication schools students are put through grueling hours of classes on Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They are taught- how customer is the king of any organization and how crucial it is for any company to not only make a customer but to also keep him.

In a world where customers are becoming demanding, competition is getting more intense marketers have to invest huge sums of money to keep his consumers hooked on to his brand. It is only suicidal for any organization to loose their customers. Loosing one Tanu could be a loss of 10 new potential consumers for ferns and petals, because not only will she bad mouth them (hey she has all the reasons to – Late delivery, Rude support staff, no apologies, etc.) but she would also ensure that none of her associates ever use their service either. Negative buzz spreads faster anyway and it only gains momentum on the way.

Well Ferns and petals could have done the following to stop this disaster:

1. They could have Clearly specified on their website that they are over booked and they are extremely sorry to Tanu and her likes that they are unable to take in more orders.

2. Send an apology to her.

3. Apologised to Tanu’s boyfriend as well.


Well I sincerely do hope they are atleast better equipped with disaster management, let me warn them an angry customer is one of the worst disasters to happen (don’t forget the movie tickets it could help) and if they are not, boy I don’t know what they are thinking.



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Get paid for Blogging!

Personal blogs could now provide opportunities for sponsorship that is, if the contents are widely read for all the right reasons. If you have the flair and are quick witted consider becoming a professional blogger. Blogging for money has caught on and will only move forward in the coming years.
Read on...