Know Your Customer


While ‘Know your customer ‘has been the buzz word in the banking industry a very few service providers really know their customer. This is true especially in the real estate industry which is troubled by high inventory, over pricing, legal hassles etc that knowing the customer is last of their priority. A Friend had been on a house hunting spree since sometime. She visited several apartments and villas trying to finalize a property for her family. Infact her every weekend was spent visiting some such property. She went through hundreds of pages of property advertisements both offline and online, did a lot of research, visited numerous property shows, exhibition to shortlist one, but she could never find an ideal house which she could make her home. Was her expectation high? To some extent yes. She felt that none of the builders actually understood the customer requirement. After all buying a house to most of us is a once in a life time investment.  yet she continued to hope

Then finally one day she called me for her house warming ceremony. On hearing I exclaimed almost spontaneously ‘wow! Finally!!’ She explained me about the house the family purchased, the journey and how this place made it to the list. She said with this property, things just fell into places just like in a jigsaw puzzle, a feeling which she never had before.

She said while she really liked the place, there were a lot of other factors which helped her in her decision. There was a bank representative placed at the property site .This made it really easy for her to get the loan approved and the necessary documentation done. There was also an interior designer stationed there who helped her put her dream house in place literally brick by brick. The designer understood her needs and combined it with the available property to give the look and feel which she always wished for. Now the banker and the interior designer really knew their customer and the place to find them. They were at the right place at the right time. Imagine if she had to run from pillar to post to find them, share her specific needs and identify a solution. All this was avoided thanks to the support provided by the builder.

She said the builder helped her with every possible requirement right from helping with a lawyer, a auditor, a banker (inspite of being a pre approved project) etc. it supported her with all the required documents as and when required so as to ensure the entire process was smoothened. While this is a necessity most of the builders do not support in the entire process as it was very time consuming and they have a tendency to do the basic support based on their convenience and not as per the customer’s convenience. Considering that the entire residential project had more than 3000 apartments and villas of which more than 90% of them were sold the effort taken by the builder was truly note worthy.

Apart from the other services provided she said the amenities provided by the builder was  note worthy. While most of the builders provide only the basic facilities like swimming pool, club house gymnasium and few sports facilities, this property actually had a full fledged  clinic, an ATM, super markets, spa, a library and lot of other such facility which no other builder provided. She said this property will ensure that her kids have a very fulfilling childhood with the nature and with lots of sporting activities close to schools etc. she said she was very happy with the decision she made.

Now here is someone who really knew the customer!!!!




There are no traffic jams along the extra mile

Few days back a friend had to get a minor surgery done for her infant baby. The surgery had been planned for many months as multiple opinions had to be taken, ensured that the baby does not catch flu etc, the concerned doctor appointment to be fixed for the surgery and  the  pediatrician had to give a clearance. She said previously the pediatrician had refused to give clearance certificate for the surgery as the baby had mild cold. Hence the eating habits and the other activities were monitored. After all this the day of surgery was fixed with the concerned doctor and hospital and clearance from the pediatrician taken. After all the planning and follow ups for several days with the hospital which is one of the best in the city, imagine her nightmare when she arrives to the hospital in the morning with the baby for the surgery and she finds that there is no room booked for her baby, no surgery planned etc. In short none of the hospital staff had any clue about the planned surgery. Unfortunately all the staff the lady had interacted with were either in the second shift or on their day off.

After a lot of discussion and blaming each other the problem was identified that the doctor had informed the same to the Operation Theatre (OT) in charge and he in turn did not inform the other administrative staff. Hence the doctor was not reminded the previous day. Isn’t this strange, the place where service matters the most and price a distant consideration, misses out on the basic service. Can it get worse? Just to state that the hospital has been doing a lot of marketing activities, adopting and maintaining various parks in the city, has its own magazine, runs various contest for the babies and the moms to be (as it’s a maternity and child care hospital)  and of course has the among the best doctors in the city. But without the basic service does others really matter (except the of course talented doctors) Common sense is of paramount importance in business and customer service

That’s the mistake most of the service providers do. While the rest is all well, the service is goofed up.  Customers don’t expect anyone to be perfect. They DO expect the service provider to fix things when they go wrong. The service providers need to train their staff accordingly which was missing in the above incident as the staff had no clue how to go about it with finally the patient deciding to call off the surgery on that particular day.

Have personally witnessed a few of such pathetic service provider, this is really visible when the staff is sales driven and they have a target to achieve. Unless the customer buys the required product the concerned will not even provide the basic service. Remember a friend stating that one of the biggest banks failed to provide her even basic service (Infact they would not say no but the work would never be done) as she refused to buy an insurance policy from them. Several follow up even till the top management did not help her. For the entire team emphasized with the staff and knew the importance of achieving the sales target. Hence they found the customer the villain for not buying the product and they thereby not reaching the target and getting that coveted promotion and incentives She was made to run around for even the basic banking transaction to be done once.. Finally after giving up she has slowly started shifting her transactions to other bank as the entire shift would be difficult at once. After all she was transacting with the bank for more than 10 years.

Now imagine a person in her 30’s transacting with the bank for more than 10 years and is the introducer for 4 more accounts  from her family and each of them transact in alteast  7 digits number every year, is not provided basic service because she refused to buy a insurance policy. I am sure just by providing good service the bank would have made many times more the profit  then they would by her buying a mere insurance policy.

While all the service providers wants to increase the sales, margins, profits etc and plan million of dollars budget on advertising, promotion etc to achieve the same they forget  the very basic what a customer expects. She just wants a good service rest are all cherries on the cake. Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets one into the game. Service wins the game

Retail Loves Cash. The Sheer Luxury of Crispy Notes

Dining out is one of the little pleasures enjoyed by the city folks. After having enjoyed a sumptuous dinner in a fine dining restaurant with your family the bill arrives. You proudly give your card. The waiter takes the card along with the bill. After some time he arrives. You assume he returns to help you punch in the pin for your card. But to your horror he returns stating he could not swipe the card. You then give him another card and the story continues. Finally he states there is some problem with the machine and only cash can be accepted. First time since ages you open your wallet to check for cash. You find that you are short of cash to pay the bill. (You wonder why we ordered that dessert- it was anyways not worth the price, and then I could have paid the bill). You ask the waiter if there is an ATM nearby. In the meantime you feel very embarrassed in the restaurant as you wonder if the people around would wonder if you really could not afford the meal you just had. Your family wonders if they would have to stay back if the bill was not paid. With all sorts of thoughts you rush to the nearest ATM. Luckily for you the ATM works and has cash! You draw sufficient cash, Infact much more than the restaurant bill with the fear that you may have to face a similar situation again. You pay the bill. Give your feedback to the restaurant manager stating you felt embarrassed for no fault of yours. He apologizes for the situation. And then you move on.

Sounds familiar???Yes for many of us. We have faced such situations several times and each time we take an oath that we will carry enough to avoid such situations but end up in this situation often. Why??? For the sheer convenience factor. The cash is generally spent in buying the smaller stuff and to which we are accustomed to e.g. buying fruits and vegetable, buying the top up items at the local kirana store etc. For the larger expenses we tend to use our card. But the question remains- will you ever visit the same restaurant again where the card did not work??? A vast majority will not. Dining is an experience and if any Moment Of Truth gives a bad experience even if at the last minute with the card not being accepted it leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth which one would avoid in the future..

Could the restaurant have handled this situation better?? Definitely yes. For in this situation the customer definitely had no intention of not paying the bill. It was just that the restaurant could not support his payment mode. The restaurant could have had multiple swiping machines with all the permutations and combinations so that it would have at least one machine working at any point in time. The restaurant could have checked at the time of opening if the swiping machine works. The customer could have been informed in advance before the food was ordered about the swiping machine not working. This would have save him of the embarrassment later. Infact a little step forward by the restaurant to help the customer in the situation than merely placing the obligation on the customer to pay by cash would have gone a long way in building a relationship with the customer. He would have been glad about the restaurant service in a situation beyond their control.

Finally to sum it up in the words of a friend. After he borrowed money from his wife, chauffeur etc he was still sort of cash to pay the bill. The Owner of the restaurant actually told him he could pay the balance during his next visit!! Now that’s a catch. Did my friend visit the restaurant again? Of course he did that too with his family for he not only had to pay the previous amount but also he because he felt the restaurant trusted him and he needs to reciprocate it. But this time he went with a lot of cash in his wallet.