Friday, October 22, 2010

Irate Customers : Caring or Firing ?

Tall and bald man of Chinese descent was furious. He hung behind a soft shoulder bag that is often symbol of young software guys. He pounced on the ground staff of Jet Airways questioning him why there was no display of Belt Number where SQ424 would be arriving. I saw one display at one end but realized that that it was missed baggage reporting station. We reached the counter ' May I help you ' and he yelled at the man on the counter again, muttering and abusing with himself. I wouldn't blame him. It was past midnight and our flight had landed 1045pm. First 20 minutes wait for gate to be allocated and then 30 min wait for bus to arrive and put ladder to connect. Hauled into rickety bus, with three ground staff instructing driver by thumping on the body of the bus with one saying ' Go' the other two saying ' Stop'. Poor driver had no choice but to put a sudden brake after pushing the accelerator paddle. Singapore lady next to me chuckled; she was trying to smother her laugh by looking outside the window. This man had no such intentions and he continued to curse himself while waiting at Belt 5. By now, each belt had minimum two flights mentioned but our bags were not in sight. After another wait of 15 minutes, public announcement happens that SQ424 would be at Belt 6. Normally, a melee is common with trolleys hitting few knuckles and free flow of abuses. Luckily nothing of this sort happened. Customs too let people with small bags go without putting them on the x ray machine. The queue over there is often serpentine. I didn't see this man again but I wish I was as half demanding as him. An Indian bred in India, tolerance level for accepting indiscipline and shoddy management is much higher and I must correct it. At Marriott Courtyard, man who settled my bill appeared to have a hidden agenda of overcharging me. First, he charged me for ' leprosy fund ' and then informing it as an option. Next, he billed me for an Internet when it was free and saying sorry after pointing it his folly.
Similar situation was presented to me within next 48 hours at Leela Kovalam Hotel. I had booked meeting room in advance and had confirmation. When reached the place at the appointed time, the room was locked. After scurry of personnel getting the key, room was littered with packed boxes. None had any idea about the meeting. Guys at the reception huddled together started punching telephone button instructing someone to do something. I remembered bald Chinese at Mumbai airport and tried to emulate his histrionic skills. Things started happening at rapid pace. Within 1o minutes room was and everything was in place. Hotel didn’t charge me for the projector and let me have checkout without any extra charge with liberal spread of apologies.

Managing Irate and angry customers could be one subject that most companies in the service industry must be spending their money. But Sprint way of handing such customers intrigued me. Instead of winning irate customers they fired them. In 2007, Sprint did this to 1,000 customers and in return got a negative publicity. But it seems the decision made economic sense. These 1,000 customers used lot of resources and were liability with their hard to please attitude. The more the company spent resources on them, more they became impatient, and rude. I am not sure if this was the right move by Sprint and if anyone else emulated this. Most companies tend to ignore such customers but I feel if a company could manage and turn around their most demanding and irate customers they develop the fangs and the tenacity to combat the competitive forces when the going gets tough.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Elephant Safari in Bali

Wayan, Maade, Yoman and Kitut. In Bali, names are assigned as per your number among your siblings. 1st child is Wayan; second one is Maade and so on. After 5th it's turn of Wayan again. An important lesson we learnt while going to Elephant Safari. I become Wayan Milind.

We were to stay at Elephant safari lodge but stopped just before hitting ' confirm' button on net purchase. I am glad that we did it. We could get a glimpse of both jungle life at Nandini Resort and the Elephant safari. In old days, kings rode on elephants albeit on a canopy with cushions and supposedly guided their army. I am not sure how well they did it but our journey on elephant back ensured pummelling our back every time elephant put his feet forwards. Perhaps in old war days, there could have been some shock absorber fitted on elephant back to soften bumpy ride. Seven male elephants with twenty three females must have been a good choice for male elephants at Elephant safari. How else can you explain that Ardilla - 27 year old female elephant who rode us - is still motherless and unlikely she would gain motherhood But she demonstrated her toilet skills on the way. Their biological waste is an excellent fertilizer for bamboo tree who grow up long and hard in just three years. Some young trees are staple diet for elephants. How does particular specie turn Veg or non Veg? Can elephant eat Fish when offered? Tatha - Ardilla's mahout said no. Wonder what would hungry Lion do when offered ' Dal rice ‘? Perhaps kick that Thali with ferociously! Exhibits of elephant skeleton, their anatomy and behavioural traits make visit to this place very interesting. Don’t miss visit to this place if you are taking kids to Bali. Lunch had good choice for Veg but it was interesting to see coconut and palm sugar filling in dosa.

Once known that I had a choice to taste a wine in Hindu dominated province of Islamic country, I didn't want to miss chance. It was Hatten wine Aga white from the vineyards of Bali. Nasi Gorang , Chicken satey was delectable with it and so was bakim noodles. I was concerned of heat and high humidity in outdoor but cloudy weather made it a great day. We would now head for Kuta on the way visit Kintamani, Pura Tirta Temple.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

In search of Nandini at Bali

It's almost midnight and we are in the middle of the jungle looking for Nandini Bali jungle resort at Payangan, 25 min drive from Ubud . From Denpasar airport , Ubud is nearly an hour and half drive. Past Alila resort, houses and shops adjacent to the either side of the road disappears and now a winding road through thick foliage climbs up. Road become narrow and with no opposite traffic our search for Nandini goes on seeking directions from people on bike returning back from work. Maade - our driver extols praises on people in the jungle saying that they carry true Balinese spirit of honesty and hospitality. We come at end of the road that has stone inscribed green painted word ' Ubud hanging garden'. Another true Balinese person confidently tells us to take right. We go ahead. Now road is real narrow, with sharp slope and vicious turn at right angles. Tar road is almost covered by muddy soils . We realize that there is no point in going ahead and we see enough space to take back turn. I get down guiding our Chevrolet taxi to make sure that it doesn't slip down or gets stuck in mud. What if driver swe
rves and takes with him Akshta and my wife? I shrug such evil thought and jump inside the car. We reach the same place with stone inscribed place and ask another bike rider who again points to the same direction. A hotel telephone number too is not being accessible but we plead the bike rider to guide us and in just few minute drive a small diversion with name plate ' Nandini' ushers in to an amazing hospitality of young ' Ivan ' a resident of Lombark.

Nandini turns out to be more exquisite, charming and luxurious as we settled in.