Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What does the customer need?

Yesterday my service-in-charge came running to me around 10.30 am, gave me a phone
number and said: This customer wants an air-conditioner immediately and wishes to talk to you.

I took my mobile and rang up the customer.

He said: We had booked an air-conditioner with a dealer. But they are not able to deliver the
unit and install it today.We are opening our new office tomorrow at Ashok Nagar.

I got the message. The bottom-line is that we should be able to deliver and fix the unit by evening.

My reply to him was: Please hold the line. Let me check and tell you if I will be able to fix the unit

After ascertaining that my person is available to fix the unit I told him that I would be able to meet
his need.

He came to my office, paid the money. Two of them had come and I asked them whether they
will be able to take the unit with them in an auto. They readily accepted and I followed up and sent
a person and installed the unit.

To bag an order, we should find out the requirement, if met, will clinch the deal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mark of a Gentleman

I recently read an article explaining that Indians are among the most abusive.

Well, that may be so. But there are also many Gentlemen around.

Before I left for the US, I had sold an air-conditioner to a company in Chennai
and the Engineer took a liking towards me.

After I came back from the US, he contacted us and ordered for a 1 ton ac.
We sent the unit to their company, but when it was delivered, my mechanic
found that there was enough space available to fix a 1.5 ton ac which they
wanted in the first place.

They then gave us an old air-conditioner against which I said we will send
them the cheque after evaluating the condition.

I told them that I would send them a certain sum of money which they agreed to.
Somehow the matter was forgotten and the Engineer reminded us about it. We said
we will send the money.....and again forgot to do it!!

Far from being abusive, to which he was anyway entitled to, he sent me an e-mail
with the caption "Gentle reminder".

No words can describe my state of mind. I immediately sent the cheque with profound

I salute the perfect Gentleman.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Humour in Ire

Be humourous. It is humour that keeps us away from stressful situations.

Some years back I used to supply air-conditioners to a retailer who was also a good
friend of mine.

Retailers are notorious for issuing cheques without funds and also delaying the payment.

Our relationship was cordial and remains so even now.

But on one occasion the payment was delayed. The cheque he issued bounced. He asked me
to represent the cheque - and it again bounced.

I went fretting and fuming to his office and confronted him.

What is this cheque that you issued? It bounces like a rubber ball !!

He drew money from his bank (or elsewhere) and gave it to me.
P.S. A rubber ball bounces much more than a cork or cricket ball.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Telephone manners....

Years back there used to be the Sabhari's Institute (later taken over  by Davar's) where they used
to have a Personal Secretary course. Young women after their plus 2 or Degree completion would
join  the six month course where they were  taught typing, filing, office procedures and of course telephone

Alas, today there are no typists. The art of letter writing is lost and with it telephone etiquette too, thanks
to the cell phone mania.

In the good old days telephones were on the table and while speaking to a customer, it was quite easy
to note down the customer's phone number and so on.

These days phone calls are answered from anywhere and no conscious effort is taken to write down the
important numbers and requirement. Many a sale is lost!

Not only that. When I receive a call, I understand that someone is trying to contact me and talk to me
or enquire about something. But when I call up somebody, many among them start talking non-stop without caring to ask me why I called them in the first place!!

When I receive a call I invariably say: How can I help you? (or) if it is a friend or relative: How are you and
what's the news?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to get cheated!

To be frank, I don't want to teach anyone how he or she could get cheated.

Rather, I wish to remind them to be wary and not get cheated.

Again two incidents in the recent past.

I usually buy a few apples now and then stopping on the wayside while driving back home.

A few days back, the seller gave me three apples, which I just put aside in my car.
Lo, when I returned home my wife pointed out that one of the three was a bad apple!

Moral: Inspect your items before taking delivery of them.

Two days back we went to Pondy Bazaar and bought a bundle of plastic rope. The seller
turned away from us put the bundle inside a plastic bag, tied three knots and gave it to us.
My wife who was observant, opened the bag and returned the bundle which was old and brittle.
She insisted in his giving the one which she selected.

Moral: Inspect your items before taking delivery and you are saved!

Have a nice day!

PS: Women are cleverer than men !!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eternally priced stabilizer !

You might have heard of Chiranjeevi.

Chiram means unending and jeevi means living being. Chiranjeevi means one whose life is unending.
Lord Hanuman is believed to be one such.

But the 4 KVA voltage stabilizer I find could earn such a sobriquet, so to say.

In 2002 it was priced at Rs.1,500. After ten years, in 2012 it is still being sold for Rs.1,500.

Of course the quality has come down a few notches. But that is a different thing.

In 2002, a cup of tea was Rs.2. Today it is Rs.6.

Six months back, before I left for the US, a Kilogram of Fuji Apples sold for around Rs.120.
Today it is Rs.190 per Kilogram.

I could go on and on....

It is high time that the price for this item be increased to Rs.1,800 to Rs.2,000.

Also it is better that dealers realise that they are walking on thin ice at such pricing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sale enquiry is an opportunity to render service...

A sale enquiry is an opportunity to render service.

When you have a mind-set to help (read: serve) the people around you, then the
sale will automatically take place.

Let me give you two examples from incidents in the past two/three days.


Late in the evening a customer spoke to me asking for an air-conditioner and which he wanted to
come and see in our showroom and have it fixed the next morning. I spoke to him at length over the
phone and explained him all the features, etc. I told him not to mistake me when I say that it may not
really be necessary for him to travel a long distance, late in the evening, just to see the model. "You are
not selecting a saree". I also told him that we will send the air-conditioner (he could see the picture and
features in the voltas website) to his house, fix it and collect the payment. As promised, the unit was sent
the next day and payment collected at his door-step. Customer was happy.


Yesterday, again late in the evening around 7 p.m. a customer rang me up and said that she wanted
a water dispenser delivered at Pallikaranai ( a distance of about 25 kms from our showroom) within an
hour or two, since there was a function in her house the next day morning. I told her that I would find out
if anyone is around in our place to deliver the unit to her. One of our technicians, Pechimuthu, readily accepted to deliver the unit. I informed the customer that her need will be fulfilled and left her contented.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Office humour - I am also like Ratan Tata

A few weeks back I read an article in the newspaper in which Ratan Tata was reported to have said that he could not really achieve all he hoped, while sharing some thoughts as he prepared to step down from his role as the Chairman of the Tata group.

A few days back I was relating this to my friends in my office.

The owner of our business, Mohideen, immediately lamented: In that sense even I am like Ratan Tata.

"I have not been able to achieve all that I hope for."

Asking my friend Mohideen not to worry, I told him: "Don't worry. You have miles and miles to go before you sleep. And we will put in out bit."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


In business I stay committed.

If I promise to send the material in the evening by 7 p.m., I will see to it that the material
reaches the customer by 7 p.m.

But I wonder how far I will be able to stay committed. On a personal level, yes, not a problem.
But from the company point of view, to honour my commitment, I need persons around me who
also stay committed. Alas! Such persons are fast disappearing.

The Finance Director of a leading construction company recently purchased two air-conditioners
for his daughter's new apartment, around 25 Kms away from my business place. He wanted the
units to be delivered in the evening and machines to be installed the next day from 7 a.m. onwards
since there would be no current between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in that place.

We agreed to his request and send the machines in the evening. Technician was informed to go in
the morning. But that guy just went on French leave and disappeared! He did not inform us in time
to make alternate arrangements. We could arrange our supervisor to go there, which he did, but
only around 9 a.m. could he go.

Meanwhile, the customer got irritated and threatened us that he will stop payment for the cheque and
that we should take back our machines! I recently read an article which stated that Indians are the most
abusive in the world.

The customer being an Indian and in the construction line who I am sure would be well seized of the
labour situation here, could have exercised little more patience.

I am not able to judge as to why he got cheesed off. But then, there was a lapse (small though) from our side. The guy was not there at 7 a.m.

I requested a company to send a person and instal anti-virus software in my computer. He said it will be done in a day or two. The guy was supposed to come on Saturday. He didn't come. Even till Tuesday he
has not appeared. On Tuesday evening when I reminded at about 4.30 p.m. about his appointment with
me at 5 p.m. he said that the person is somewhere in Perungudi and would definitely come. Buy no, he
neither came nor did he have the courtesy to phone me to express his inability. Am I losing my patience?

Well, not yet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Being on time

My neighbour  is the General Manager (Marketing) in a leading construction company and one of
the qualities that I admire in him is his time consciousness.

Rain or shine, he leaves home exactly at 8 AM (sometimes even earlier).

Marketing people are among the rare breed who would always be on time for any appointment.

My father was in the Air-force and was a stickler for punctuality and we followed his footsteps.

The apartment association meeting would be notified to begin at 9 AM. I and my siblings and
another one or two cousins of mine would be present between 8.55 and 9.05 a.m. Others would
trickle in by 9.30, 9.45 a.m.!!

Recently I was travelling by bus (being a retired person I am now not bothered much about time)
and the traffic was choking. One guy was frequently looking at his watch. I asked him what the
matter was and he replied that his office begins at 9.30 a.m. and it was already 9.45 a.m. It would
take him at least another half-an-hour to reach office.

Coming back to my neighbour, today I wanted to start before him but lost the race by a few minutes.
I was under the false impression that by starting early I could reach my destination well in time.

But alas, I was living in a fool's paradise. It took me longer than usual.

The traffic in Chennai gets on your nerves!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Professionalism - easy to recognize....

A friend of mine wanted to sell his Scorpio car, five years old.

He sought my advise as to how to go about it.

I immediately thought of "tsm".  TSM is a brand name and stands for T.S. Mahalingam & Sons
who have been dealing in second hand cars since 1935.

We went to them and I introduced myself and my friend and told them about the car.

They knew about the car. They knew that it came in two colours. They knew the colour of the car.
They knew about the engine. They enquired about the HP and who financed the car. They knew the
financiers and said that they could handle the cancellation of HP.

They immediately wrote down our names and phone numbers in their note-book which was kept open
with a good pen to write with.

They asked us to bring the car and leave it with them and they will arrange to sell it for us at a good price.

Job done.

Did you say that professionalism is difficult to recognize?

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Every human being not only receives, but also gives.

We often hear about the give and take policy. If you note this carefully you will notice that
the act of giving precedes the act of taking.

Also in the famous tamil poem, which is a prayer to Lord Ganesha, "Paalum  Theli Thaenum"
the devotee tells the Lord that he would offer Milk, honey, paagu and pulse (four items) and
asks the Lord to give him (the devotee) Sangathtamizh moondru (Prose, poetry and drama).
So, what do we understand from this? We have to give something more that what we receive.

Giving could be in the form of anything. Love and affection, gifts, alms,  or even something
that is due to be given to someone.

Also when giving, the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving!

When we turn to Matthew 6 in the Bible we come to know about giving:

6 When you do good deeds, don't try to show off. If you do, you won't get a reward from your Father
in heaven.
When you give to the poor, don't blow a loud horn. That's what show-offs do in the meeting places and
on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward.
When you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it.
Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.

My friend Mohan of Crystopal often times when he comes out of some difficulty would say, Bhargav, some  of the good deeds that we do, saves us.

Let us try to do at least one good deed a day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to get frustrated !

Modern day world is full of conveniences - which come in so many different ways.

With the smart phone in your hand it is said that the world is at your finger tips. And so on.

But at times all these will come to naught.

At the time of my leaving the country for six months, I had a particular anti-virus software
with which I was very happy. It was due for renewal, but I thought I will do it after I get back
to India.

A few days back, I went to a popular internet site which gives commercial leads etc. I typed
anti-virus software and many companies in and around my locality were given. I tried three or
four numbers but could not reach any. Mostly the message was: This number is no longer in use.

I rang up a popular company which spends thousands of rupees in advertising. The salesman just
said: The brand mentioned by you is not available. That is all. He never tried to help me.

I found the toll free number of the software company and called them. They said that a person would
call me back and he did. He suggested that I could renew on-line. I told him that I do not have an
on-line account or credit card and that I wanted to pay cash. He seemed to say that it is possible.

When I tried to renew it asked for credit/debit card. My friend gladly gave me his debit card number and
details but the site did not accept the same.

I contacted another person having a computer company and he said that he would send someone to my
house and install a different software which was quite good. Any day, either today or tomorrow my person
will come to your house, he said.

Two days have gone by and no sight of anyone.

The frustration continues.......!!