Old Ways.

I am currently unable to pay for any shopping done online as I am going through a problem with my bank’s net banking service due to my telephone number not being able to receive OTPs from them. This matter will take a few days to resolve and till it does I would not be able to use the internet banking service.

In the meanwhile, thanks to modern targeted marketing I came across an online bookshop offering some books on Indian Spiritual matters. I decided to buy two books to see how good they are and completed all the formalities till I came to the payment section. I then remembered about my current internet banking problem and gave up the exercise without concluding the transaction online.

This happened yesterday and this morning I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the online books shop wanting to know why I did not complete the transaction.

On explaining the problem of online payment that I was currently facing, the lady offered to send me the books on Cash On Delivery basis but, that would cost more as the courier companies charged collection charges at the time of delivery.

I then suggested to the lady that she sends the books by VPP and she was stumped. I had to explain what it was and she said that it was the first time that she was hearing about it. I asked her if she was a very young person and she said yes and I understood the reason for her not knowing about VPP.

In any case, she was reluctant to use the VPP system as it  perhaps would mean going to the local post office whereas the courier companies collected from their office. I reluctantly agreed to her sending on COD basis.

The world has changed. People like me need to find ways to adjust to new ways!  Including COD instead of VPP at extra cost.

Have you had any such experiences?

Another Outing.

My beard trimmer conked out and I had to go to the manufacturer’s service station located at a distance of 12 Kms from my home. I put on a mask, got into an autorickshaw, and went off to see a bit of Pune that I had not seen for near four years.

It was a great experience passing through many landmarks on the way that brought back many memories of my more mobile days and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive to and from the Service Center. So much so that the driver of the auto even asked if I was new to Pune!

The place that I  had to go to is called Swargate and I was simply amazed at the changes that have taken place during the time that I had not visited that area. The major junction is now free of the long waits at the signal due to the flyovers that have come up and we were able to go pretty fast to where I had to go after the main junction.

The icing on the cake was the excellent customer service that I received at the Service Center and the very considerate driver of the auto who drove efficiently, helped me in and out of the auto and over all kept me entertained throughout the adventure.

An outing that has given me the necessary impetus to be more adventurous from now on and more importantly the confidence to my son and daugher in love that I can still be left alone to my devices!

The Relationship Of Sales, Politics And The Truth.

Although I had reached General Management positions before I retired from active business life, I spent most of it in Marketing and more specifically in Sales. I never however, sold or tried to sell Snake Oil. A salesman however is always looked upon suspiciously and terms like Snake Oil Salesman, Used Car Salesman, Wheeler Dealer etc,  are more common than just plain salesman. I am a rare salesman who even now calls his occupation as a Retired Salesman.

So, when this topic was suggested by The Old Fossil, I was intrigued as to why he would have come up with this odd combination and racked my brain to find something linking these three words. It has not been easy but, I hope that what I have come up with here finds my readers’ approval.

The best description of a Salesman’s job that I have come across is “creating a demand and catering to it”.  This can mean creating a demand for something for which demand did not exist as well as diverting demand from a competitor’s product to one’s own. I flatter myself that in both these activities, I have had a fairly successful career and though I have met failures, they have been much less in comparison to my successes.

I also strongly believe that I was successful because I did not take recourse to politics to sell which I have seen many salesmen do. I use the word politics in a broader sense than the narrower one of the field of politicians. For instance, I had an experience of losing a customer to a competitor because the Purchase Manager of the customer was bribed. I could have politicked and gone over his head but, preferred to wait out and was rewarded with my patience when the product failed on the shop floor and investigation found out the reason for the shift and I was back dealing with the same customer but with a different Purchase Manager.

Another example was doing the opposite.  Influencing production people to complain about a competitor’s product so that the purchase department is forced to buy from another source.  I never indulged in this kind of politicking either.

Such experiences repeated  many times and my advice to Sales Professionals was and is even now to avoid such traps / temptations.

Coming to Truth, I inevitably found that truth eventually wins in Marketing and hype inevitably fails in the long term. This however need not be the mantra for all Sales Professionals. Let me give an example. When I was a Sales Trainee, I had gone with a Senior Salesman to a customer to learn the ropes and despite much effort, my senior could not clinch a deal. On reporting back to the Sales Manager, after asking a number of questions he came up with a statement that I will never forget in my life. “Gentlemen, you failed because you did not give the customer facts. They don’t have to be facts but, give customers facts to be effective salesmen.”

Fortunately for me I did not take this particular piece of training to heart and that particular Sales Manager came to a bad end eventually.

My motto was always “promise less and deliver more” and this worked and I did not have to resort to telling lies or twisting truths in my career. The fact that many of the customers with whom I had established strong relationships continue to be my friends even now bears testimony to that.

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad The Old Fossil. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Exceptional Customer Service.

Two local businesses gave me service of exceptional nature including going out of their way to deliver their products at home for me, considering my senior citizen plus vulnerable status. These two businesses however have to remain anonymous but I shall use the names using their initials so that I can send a link to this post to them to convey my gratitude.

The first one involves many people. I wanted a Kerala speciality normally not available in local shops and thought it best to approach a friend in Mumbai PJ, who had relatives in Pune to get information of a shop that would sell this speciality. He promptly got it for me from his relatives here, with the shop’s phone number. I rang up the shop and spoke to the owner. Mr F in Malayalam and expressed my need to him. I also enquired if he could arrange for home delivery explaining my situation to him. He promptly assured me that he would arrange for home delivery and he made good his promise by late evening. I thanked the person who came to deliver and discovered that he was Mr.R, the brother of the person that I had spoken to and that they were both partners in the shop.

To say that I was zapped is an understatement.

The next one was even more strange. I wanted something that is typically Maharashtrian and found a shop that sells this in the heart of our city. I rang them up and spoke to the owner HH and after exchanging of a few WhatsApp messages, I placed an order to be despatched to me by Indian Post’s Speed Post service.

The next morning, I received a phone call from HH who said that he was very near my residence and wanted directions to it so that he can deliver the material that I had ordered. He duly came and delivered the package after showing me various options that he had brought with him. I placed a further order on him which he said he would deliver again when he next came near my neighbourhood which he did regularly to visit some others for personal reasons.

Here again, I was overwhelmed with the consideration shown by the young man.

This is my little way of expressing my gratitude to these four people who came to my rescue during difficult times.

I hope that this inspires some others to write about good customer service and to inform the people who extended the same.

Unintended Consequence -2.

My readers will recollect my longstanding relationship with another restaurant in my neighbourhood The Flour Works. To just refresh their memory, here is one post on an evening there.

The Meeta who features in that post, is the proprietress of TFW and is someone very special to me. Seeing that I was an orphan, she adopted me many years ago, quite as what, I am still to figure out. Her family too have become friends and so what she feels for me is almost ethereal.

The unintended consequence that this post talks about is her comment on my last post Unintended Consequences.

“I may sound callous about this but my first thought was why didn’t you ask me for tea? I could have sent it in less than 5 minutes as well. The second thought was it’s good you’re considering stepping out and would hopefully walk a few more steps and come see me. 🤷‍♀️”

After this comment appeared on my post, I realised something that only semantics can appreciate. Before The Irani Cafe moved next door to me, I was located between them and The Flour Works. Now, TIC has come between me and TFW! Both of them are next to each other! And I have to physically cross TIC to visit TFW both on my way to and back.

Please click on the panorama image for a larger resolution.

The extreme left is The Flour Works, in the middle is The Irani Cafe and at the right is our home with the watchman at the drive way.

Knowing my neighbourhood as I do, I can’t visit one without the other coming to know of my visit to the other.

Interesting times ahead!

My Life Saver!

I could not have my daily dose of afternoon tea today because the help was on leave of absence and my son and daughter in love were out attending some meetings. I was lost.

I took a chance and rang up my next door neighbour, a restaurant, and asked whether they would revive me by sending across a couple of glasses of their tea and lo and behold I was obliged in double quick time.

I was most impressed. The tea along with disposable cups came in a Food Grade Natural Poly Standup Pouch;

I am sure that the name on the pouch must ring bells in many minds as I have written before about Irani Cafe close to my home. They were about 120 Mts away from us when I wrote that post but, they have now shifted next door to us with just a wall and a drive way separating us.

The same Mokhtar who featured in my previous post answered my call earlier today and rushed the tea to me.  You can see him above sitting next to the Samovar which too featured in my previous post.

The same tea that I have featured in my earlier post but, double dose this time.

The four young men who are the  partners who run the Irani Cafe.

I can’t wait to go there physically to enjoy their hospitality again. My son and daughter in love have already done that and I envy them.

Thank you Mokhtar.