19 Jun 2012

KK Provides Mumbai With A Memorable Evening.

Perfect! That’s one word to sum up KK’s performance on 16th June, 2012 at Shanmukhananda Hall, Mumbai. Well, almost perfect. The only thing not perfect about the evening was when the audience would song ;)

My company was organizing an event at the venue the next day. So I was fortunate to go backstage before this Fever 104.8 FM organized event began. There I got a 1st glimpse of him; a figure of calm energy who spoke quietly to an organizer before quickly retreated to his dressing room. As expected, I was delighted, but didn’t know the evening would only get better.
KK  the Legend - Need I say more?

KK took centre stage to a standing ovation by around 7:30. Dressed in well fitting black trousers, shirt and blazer, he looked at ease right from the word GO. He explained to us what an Unplugged Concert is – no electronics. The instruments to compliment him were an acoustic guitar, an acoustic bass, drums, percussions, grand piano and harmonium. He immediately broke into a sensational unplugged version of Tu Aashiqui Hai from the movie Jhankar Beats. WOW! It evoked a thunderous applause and gave us Goosebumps. He said he didn’t have good PR, and that was evident from the fact that we didn’t know how many good songs were sing by him. Many times, we’d ask each other “Oh! He’s sung this too?” Songs he sang included Oh Meri Jaan (Life In A Metro), Aashayein (Iqbal), Zara Si Dil Mein (Jannat), Oh Mehki Hawa (from his debut album Aap Ki Dua), Yaaron (Aap Ki Dua), Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai (Gangster), Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe (Dil Chahta Hai), Awarapan Banjarapan (Jism), Khuda Jaane (Bachna Aye Haseeno), Ek Nazar Mein Bhi (Taxi No. 9211), Zindagi Do Pal Ki (Kites) and more. The ones that drove us nuts the most were Tadap Tadap (HDDCS), Alvida (Life In A Metro) and Pal (he ended the show with this one).

KK’s full name is Krishnakumar Kunnath. He is India’s best singer and unfortunately, also the most under rated. The strength in his voice and his ability to sustain high notes seem out of this world. He effortlessly reaches crazy octaves which mere mortals like us can’t reach even if we scream! Born in Delhi, the secret to his magical voice is merely self practice; he hasn’t learnt music/singing formally from anyone. I’m sure this can be attributed to the 10,000 hour concept – he must have practiced solo for above 10,000 hours to reach this legendary level. He rightly stated (although humorously) “I’ve made a pact with God. He’ll give me good songs to sing, but I must be quiet about it.” He doesn’t blow his trumpet, believes in letting his songs to the talking. Although he’s a very reserved person, he gets into his element very quickly on stage, cheering and jogging from one side to another, breaking into impromptu jigs and getting the audience to clap. Each of the musicians enjoyed themselves as much as he did.

My office friend had told me KK is very punctual and leaves every venue within minutes of the show getting over. He also had shown me where KK would exit from. I went there and waited alone, quietly. As predicted, KK stepped out to leave in his Audi Q7 within 20 minutes. He vigorously shook my hand when requested and almost bear hugged me. As I walked away from his car, I kept trying to digest the fact that my idol had hugged me. Hell, I still can’t come to terms with it! A person with easily the best voice in the country, some of the best songs sung and no airs. Barely any PR, barely hogging any limelight... I’m just ranting. I don’t know what to say. I’m still mesmerized by yesterday.

I’ll leave you with a cameo of that evening’s performance. If you like it, do share. KK deserves much more credit than he gets.

7 Jun 2012

An Interaction with Vodafone Customer Service Raises Other Questions...

My first customer service interaction with Vodafone got me thinking - "Where does India stand when it comes to Customer Service? Further, where do we stand while solving problems for those not personally related to us?"

Vodafone Service?
I bought a voucher from Vodafone (the one of bonus SMSes), which had a distorted code when I scratched it. I called Customer Service who told me to visit the vendor. When I did, the vendor said the process had changed. I had to visit a Vodafone Store. That was delay no. 1. I visited a Vodafone Store, where the rep, Laxman, asked me 100 details before telling me it would take 48 hours for Vodafone to put the SMS pack onto my account. No amount of discussion with him helped, so I walked out and thought I’d try elsewhere. This was delay no. 2. I was en route to meeting a friend in Dombivli, where I sawa another Vodafone service centre. I decided to try my luck there. They took my details and told me the same thing – 48 hours. I tried to reason with them, saying I didn’t make them wait 48 hours for payment when I bought a voucher from them; that I would lose money (1 buck per SMS) for those 2 days. I expected some empathy; instead I got apathy. The manager at Dombivli, Haridas, even went to the extent of saying it was my fault the voucher was screwed. He made it sound like he was doing me a favour by going through the process; a process which was more harmful to me than useful. In the end, exasperated, I gave in and walked away. Living up to their reputation, Vodafone recharged my account in – DRUMROLLS PLEASE – 72 HOURS! This drove the final nail in the coffin.

What if the customer involved was someone who couldn’t afford the amount lost over the next 3 days? I’ve worked for an international telecom organization, where we had the option of adding some credit, SMSes, etc. to make life easier for customers when such system generated issues occurred. Can’t the same thing be done in India? When it comes to providing Customer Service here, we often take a beating.

The Expected circle includes what an organization is expected to offer, while the augmented circle includes features/aspects which go beyond expected offers. When an organization blends aspects from the augmented circle into the expected one, it will achieve success and leapfrog competition.
Whole Product Circles

The same applies to Customer Service (CS). When CS goes beyond what a customer expects Brand Equity and credibility improve exponentially. That’s one reason we’re losing the BPO business to Philippines. They focus more on customer satisfaction and finding alternate methods to help, which enhances the customer experience with the brand. We, on the other hand, are still stuck with the concept of... you guessed it... PROCESS!

The PROCESS said I must wait 2 days (actually 3) for a recharge I had paid for; PROCESS says a car cannot be repaired urgently in a workshop though the reason may be genuine; PROCESS is what hurts most of us even in the corporate world. Being accommodating seems to disappear when we have to give; it appears when we want. Giving me 10 free SMSes would’ve cost Vodafone barely anything (10 SMSes x 10 p/SMS = Re. 1). In trying to save that 1 rupee, they’ve lost out on lots of good publicity they could’ve received through customers like us, which is priceless.

My professor told us about a rule in Wal-Mart where anything can be replaced/refunded in 8 days! No questions asked. However, most people who take undue advantage of this rule in USA are Indians. They use something purchased from Wal-Mart and return it in less than 8 days saying they don’t need it. My professor wanted to have a razor blade exchanged he had purchased in Manhattan when he went there again. He had no bill or service number, etc. The rep simply told him it was a defunct piece, no longer in production and replaced it with the latest model. No questions asked, no answers given! On the other hand, when he tried to use the warranty option at CROMA for an article he purchased, he was made to run around so much that he let it go.
VODAFONE and other Indian brands, are you listening?
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