BOOKS

 

My first book - "Why My Horse Doesn't Smile - Learn to serve your customers" was published by Viva Books in December, 2009.

This book is a self-help book and a guide for the first level line managers, focusing on the soft skills required to succeed in the role.

The growing importance of customer satisfaction has lead to a great amount of research and discussion in ideas and principles of customer service. Businesses look for new and improved methods of customer service, in order to provide higher levels of customer satisfaction. This book provides effective guidelines and techniques, supported by practical examples for the improvement of customer service.

Foreword

Customer service traces back to the old principle, ‘service before self’ and what better way to do it than to have two practicing customer service professionals transfer their experience...

Customer Service: An Introduction

‘Excellence is not a destination, it is a journey’, is an old saying. This is true...

Smile: An Essential Dress

Charles Bell, an anatomist rightly stated, ‘Smile – one of the most ambiguous
human expressions ...

Listening

A prerequisite for being an effective customer service representative is to
understand the customer’s complaint and point of view. The best way to do...

 

My next book - "Corporate Anecdotes - A collection of Short Stories" was published by Amazon Kindle in December, 2017.

Today, in the cut-throat competitive corporate world, some people perform amazingly well and others don't. Some people climb the ladder of success and some others get stuck. Some people get all the accolades while some other do all the work without any recognition. Each of the corporate employee has his or her own story. This book is a collection of short stories, which are straight from the workplace.
 

Some of these are real-life instances of me, my family, friends and colleagues. You can consider the stories as fiction, or you can consider them to be Self-help, that's a choice you have to make.

Foreword

As stated by Chanakya the noted Indian philosopher, teacher, economist and the royal advisor, “Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions...

Coffee Shop

“Congratulations Kiran!!” said Priya as they shook hands firmly.

 

“I am sure, this deal will give us great results...

The Plot

It was a chilly morning, with birds flying in the sky. The usual quietness of the place was missing today. People had started...

My self-belief: Rekindled

“Congratulations to you sweetheart! We are moving to Oslo.” Said Yaami, as she hugged her husband, Sharad, after disconnecting the morning call.

 

Foreword - Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customers

Customer service traces back to the old principle, ‘service before self’ and what better way to do it than to have two practicing customer service professionals transfer their experience into practical and easy-to-use concepts.

 

Why My Horse Doesn’t Smile will certainly be relevant to students, fresh entrants and industry professionals. In a lucid and free-flowing style, the book takes us along the various elements of customer service. The book is written in a simple and communicative style, replete with narrations and with lots of practical examples along the way. Extensive use of proverbs and anecdotes helps us reflect and also internalize the central theme.

 

The first two chapters prepare us for customer service as a career. The next few chapters cover the physical dimensions of customer service. It brings to mind a favorite saying on customer service – ‘The extra smile has no traffic jams.’ The book continues to delve upon the role of communication in customer service in the following chapters. The soft skills and capabilities required to perform the role are then elaborated upon in the following chapters. The narration continues course and sums up the challenges and grievances which a customer service professional needs to prepare himself for.


Customer service is a key discipline nurtured through training and close mentoring. It is certainly an area which seeks attention in an increasingly
fast-paced environment that we work in. The book encapsulates Gandhiji’s famous reflection on customer service,


‘A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption in our work; he is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so’.


I congratulate Vivek and Neelesh and applaud their effort in bringing out this book.
Amit Bedi
COO – Bihar
Tata Teleservices Ltd

Get your copy of Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customer, by clicking on the link.

 

Customer Service: An Introduction - Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customers

‘Excellence is not a destination, it is a journey’, is an old saying. This is true in every sphere of life. At no stage of your career can you say, ‘I have learnt everything about customer care’, or ‘I am able to provide the best customer service to each and every customer I come across’. There will always be room for improvement as it is rightly said, ‘The biggest room on this earth is  the room for the improvement’. Hence, everyday before starting your work it is important to ask yourself:

 

• How can I make each and every customer feel that they have got the best deal?

 

• How can I make my supervisor feel that I am the best customer service representative in his/her team?

The customer has always been the focal point of any business. However, in today’s world, customer service is not only an integral part of every
business but it has become the cornerstone of a successful business. Better the service a customer receives, and more importantly perceives; better are the chances that the business will evolve and grow. Needless to mention, your own growth is linked to the growth of the business. It depends upon your approach towards the job, which will help you serve your customer better. In turn, you will get noticed and will be rewarded by your superiors.

In order to have a better understanding, let us first understand as to who is a customer and what does he or she look forward to from us. According to one hypothesis, the word customer is derived from the word custom. The word custom has different meanings, one of which is buying of goods. However, the dictionary meaning of customer is ‘a frequent buyer’. Here are some definitions of the word customer.

Customer – A Few Definitions
• A customer is someone who purchases or rents something from an individual or an organization.
• Any person, who defines needs or wants, justifies or pays for part or the entire project, evaluates or uses the results.
• The person or business that buys from a business; a purchaser of goods or services.


There are a few characteristics that identify a customer.

A customer is someone,

• who has a need or want of a particular article.
• who can afford it, which means who has enough money to buy it.
• who has the authority to decide the purchase.

In order to be a customer one must satisfy all the three characteristics. Now let us understand the meaning of the word service. The word service is
derived from serve, which means ‘to work for’. However, dictionary defines the word service as ‘the act of serving or kindness’. Here are few definitions of the word service.

Service – A Few Definitions
• Work done by a person or group that benefits another.
• An act of help or assistance.
• The act of managing the expectations of others.

 

A service is intangible, e.g. comfort. It cannot be stored, i.e. no inventory can be maintained of it and it is produced and used simultaneously, e.g.
doctor doing diagnosis. Now put both the definitions together.

Customer Service – A Few Definitions
• Customer service is your ability to cater to the needs and the wants of your customers.
• Customer service is your ability to constantly and consistently exceed the customer’s expectations.


Unlike selling, wherein a salesperson assesses the needs or wants of the customer and accordingly prepares the pitch for the sales talk; in customer service a customer walks into a retail outfit, with a set of predefined needs or wants, is ready to spend money and is willing to buy the product/s of his/her choice. What the customer expects from a CSR is just assistance.

To read more, get your copy of Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customer, by clicking on the link.

 

Smile: An Essential Dress - Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customers

Charles Bell, an anatomist rightly stated, ‘Smile – one of the most ambiguous human expressions involving 26 facial muscles – conveys a thousand different meanings’. It is your smile that helps you to achieve customer satisfaction or customer loyalty. It is priceless. It is said, ‘The most expensive dress in your wardrobe is a smile on your face.’ However, most of us behave like a miser while using this priceless gift given to us by God. Researches have confirmed that we need fewer muscles to bring a smile on our face than for crying. Swami Vivekanand affirmed, ‘The smile increases the self-immunity automatically’. Whenever we smile, it brings a charm to our personality, captivates one and all and is a sign of love and affection, forgiveness and fortitude.

Imagine visiting two different shops for buying some articles for daily use. At one shop the shopkeeper welcomes you with a smile and asks you, ‘What do you need?’ At another shop, the shopkeeper asks you the same question but without a smile or greeting. What are your feelings while coming out from both these shops? Which shop would you like to visit again? I am sure it is the shop where you were greeted with a pleasant smile. Remember, your customer is a human being and will certainly appreciate a genuine smile on your face when you deal with him/her.

It was a dull day, with hardly any customers walking into the store. Simran was the executive present in the store and all of a sudden she
saw an angry customer walking. From his looks it was clear that he was disgusted. This made Simran feel a bit nervous. However, she remembered the discussion which she had during the morning meeting, i.e. to be confident while attending to a customer and to welcome the customer with a smile.

The moment the customer reached her desk, she greeted him with a smiling face. The expression on the customer face started to mellow
down. Simran retained the smile on her face and explained to the customer the reason for not being able to make or receive calls. The
customer appreciated the explanation that by mistake he had switched the line 1 to 2 on his mobile phone which lead to the problem. He
thanked Simran for being so helpful and walked away with a smile on his face.

Now it is up to you to decide, whether it was the explanation Simran offered to the customer or was it her smile that suddenly changed the
customer’s behaviour. Well, certainly the explanation was important as it helped customer to resolve his problem. However, imagine Simran offering the same explanation with a frown or a different look on her face and saying, ‘It’s your mistake Sir, you had switched to line 2’.

Remember, an irate customer is like a hot tawa on which dosa is cooked. Have you seen that after laying every dosa, the cook sprinkles water on
the tawa to cool it? He knows that if he fails to do so than the batter will get stuck on the tawa. A smile works like water sprinkled on an aggrieved
customer’s face. It helps him to cool down and state his problem keeping, his emotions aside.

To read more, get your copy of Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customer, by clicking on the link.

 

Listening - Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customers

A prerequisite for being an effective customer service representative is to understand the customer’s complaint and point of view. The best way to do this is to first listen to the customer. To listen well is as powerful a means of communication as to speak well. However, the irony of human nature is that we love talking and give very little attention to listening. An elephant symbolizes the statement: he has two big ears but one small mouth, which communicates that listening is twice as important as talking. Listening is a prerequisite to maintaining good relationships.

Even though listening is a communication skill we use most frequently, yet it is one in which we have the least training. Look back into your school/
college days and you will realize that a lot of emphasis was given on writing, reading and speaking but not to listening. Studies all across the globe have shown that immediately after listening to a 10 minute oral presentation, an average listener understands and retains 50 per cent of what was said. However, within 48 hours, that decreases another 50 per cent to a final level of 25 per cent retention of what was presented. In other words, we often comprehend and retain only one fourth of what we hear.

Listening happens to be a skill that all of us feel we have. However, it is something that we just assume to have and so do not put in any extra effort
to develop it. To listen attentively is really hard. All of us want to express our wants, feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively to others.
This is only half of the communication process; the other half is to listen and understand others.


Listening communicates your attentiveness. It also helps you to make the exchange of thoughts successful. By listening to different people carefully, you get an opportunity to learn their viewpoint. Listening also inspires confidence in the speaker. I would like to share with you an incident which took place while I was shopping in a mall.

An old lady came to the salesperson I was talking to and started complaining about a faulty iron that she had bought the previous week. The salesperson, instead of listening to her complaints, very casually said, ‘Leave it here. I will see what I can do’ and immediately thereafter started talking to me. Since, the comment was made in such an uninterested voice, it left the lady wondering whether her problem would get solved or not. I could clearly see signs of irritation on her face.


She simply took the iron from the salesperson and walked towards his manager who was seated at a short distance away. Seeing her coming to meet him, he stood up and walked towards the lady, took the iron from her hand and said ‘How may I help you madam?’ The lady told him of the problem she was facing with the iron. The manager listened very patiently. When she finished talking, he told lady, ‘Leave it here ma’am. I will see what I can do’. Thereafter, he asked another salesperson to issue an acknowledgement slip. For the first time I saw a sign of relief on her face.

What could be the reason for the lady to feel confident about resolution of her problem while she spoke to the manager? Incidentally, he too had
used the same words that were used by the salesperson. The difference was in their attitude towards listening. The manager, by listening carefully
not only understood her concern but also successfully communicated an assurance that her problem would be solved. The sales person too might
have understood her concern; however, by not listening to the customer’s complaint properly, he failed to create the confidence in her that her problem would get resolved.

To read more, get your copy of Why my horse doesn't smile? - Learn to serve your customer, by clicking on the link.

 

Foreword - Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories

As stated by Chanakya the noted Indian philosopher, teacher, economist and the royal adviser, “Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions:

·         Why am I doing it?

·         What the results might be?

·         Will I be successful?

 

Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, should go ahead and carry out the work.” However, in today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world, it becomes almost impossible to get the answers to these questions so easily.

 

Despite our unwillingness, many times it is the situations / circumstances which force us to do, what we would not like to do otherwise. Then, there are situations, which keep influencing our emotions and behavior and the people's behavior around us. In the Corporate world there are numerous such incidents happening all around us which at times force us to introspect where we are heading towards. Neelesh Kapoor, the author of this book brings in a rich experience from the Corporate world and the immense maturity he reflects in his writing has enabled him to handpick a few such incidents and present it in a manner, which would help the readers in two ways - firstly, to enjoy it, while reading as a story and secondly, to develop an insight that will help them deal with, if they themselves encounter any such situation in their Corporate experience.

 

The realistic story-lines might get the reader thinking whether the stories are fictional or is it an episode from his or her own life. I am sure, these narratives will come handy to readers while facing any similar situation that they might come across. It gives me immense pleasure to be writing the foreword as I truly believe that you do not have to reinvent the wheel always however learn from other's experiences and this is exactly what this book presents you as part of the takeaways mentioned at the end of each story will act as mantras on how we should adapt and condition our behavior.

Happy reading!!!

- Shaili Tyagi

Joint Vice President- Corporate HR

DCM Shriram Company Ltd.

Get your copy of Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories, by clicking on the link.

 

Coffee Shop - Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories

“Congratulations Kiran!!” said Priya as they shook hands firmly.

 

“I am sure, this deal will give us great results, both in terms of - gaining customers, as well as financially.” responded Kiran, with a big smile on her face.

 

It had been a long negotiation cycle that their organizations had been involved in, for over last couple of months. Both the ladies, as their organizational representatives, were spearheading the negotiations from Burgers4Ever retail chain and Biztech Services. Biztech Services had partnered with Burgers4Ever to develop a mobile app, which would provide services to the customers like ordering fast food, paying online, getting customer rewards as well as refer their friends to gain points, which can be converted to cash.

 

The agreement that they had reached was put on paper, and signed by the legal teams of both the parties. It was a wonderful proposition, though, it had come at a higher cost than the other couple of bidders. However, the market feedback about the start-up, along with the benefits being offered seemed to overpower the cost difference.

 

“Priya, I suppose it was a tough task, but you still managed to find a middle path. You were good, during the negotiations.” said Shaham, who was her reporting manager.

 

“Thanks, Shaham, but, I still feel, I could have brought down the cost some more. Though, I resisted, as it might have affected the quality of service that we would be getting.” responded Priya.

 

“That’s fine. I am sure, with the deal in place, and adherence to the tight timelines, we would be able to reap benefits.”

 

Shaham was a detail-oriented but accommodating manager. Though, he scrutinized the details initially, however, once he had his trust built on the team member, he allowed them a free hand. Burgers4Ever was a European multinational fast food company, which was setting up the franchisee stores across major towns in India. It had successfully launched stores in top 10 towns. With the government’s Digital India initiative, as well as the increased customer usage of mobile apps, Burgers4ever had planned to have an online presence in India, as well. Though, it had something similar running in other countries, Indian market being different than the European ones, it had to have a customized local mobile app.

 

The mobile app development process started and was completed a week before the decided timeline of 2 months. Priya and Kiran had been working closely on the mobile app development. Priya had done her task well and Shaham nominated her name in the quarterly rewards and recognition. The mobile app was deployed, and the customers started using the same. It started showing results for Burgers4ever as well, where within the first week of launch, the app had over 20,000 downloads across the launched towns.

 

As the month was over, the first invoice was raised to Burgers4ever by Biztech. It was Kiran, who submitted the invoice to finance. Then, Kiran proceeded to Priya’s workstation. Priya was in a discussion with her colleague Ambar, and she asked Kiran to wait for some time. Once Priya finished her discussion, she introduced Kiran to Ambar.

 

“Hey Kiran, how are you?”

 

“I am good, Priya. Thanks. How about you?”

 

“I am good as well. Meet Ambar, who is heading the Communications department.”

 

“Hi Ambar. Good Morning!” wished Kiran.

“So, it’s your organization, which is helping us reap the benefits of the digital age?” stated Ambar.

 

“Biztech, it is Ambar” said Kiran with a smile.

 

“How long back, did you start Biztech?” asked an inquisitive Ambar.

 

“Oh! I didn’t start Biztech. Though, it was started a couple of years back. I joined it around a year back, as the Business Development Head.”

To read more, get your copy of Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories, by clicking on the link.

 

The Plot - Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories

It was a chilly morning, with birds flying in the sky. The usual quietness of the place was missing today. People had started gathering around the building, since the news had spread that Dr. Vivek Kapoor, a research scientist with a top pharma conglomerate was murdered. He was known to be a quiet and gentle person to all his society members as well as his colleagues. Everyone was wondering who could have murdered such a wonderful soul, who was known to be so helpful and had done so many inventions as well as innovations in the medical field.

 

Police officers were spread across the place and the yellow police tape was put in place to isolate the crime scene and protect the evidences. There was no family member present at the spot, as Dr. Vivek used to live here with his wife - Ankita and his daughter. A few of his office colleagues had also reached the murder scene. There was some time, before his wife would be able to reach home, as she had gone to her mother’s place along with their daughter four days back. During his morning walk, one of his neighbor had called up the family and police, after seeing blood coming out of the main door of their flat.

 

A car came to a halt, near the gate of Vivek’s home. A man dressed in a formal suit came out and reached the door of the house. A couple of colleagues from Vivek’s company, who were present there wished this gentleman. He looked at one of the policeman and inquired – “What happened? Who murdered Vivek?”

 

The policeman, who was trying to control the crowd said – “That’s the reason we are here. Who are you?”

 

“I am Dr. Amit, from the pharma company - Quicksilver.”

 

“Very good. Go stand there.” The policeman pointed to the place where the rest of the crowd was gathered.

 

“Look, I am from the same company, where Dr. Vivek was working.”

 

The policeman did not even care to listen to what Dr. Amit was saying and started asking everyone including Amit to move to a place away from the scene of crime.

 

While he was doing so, a taxi stopped near the place, where the crowd had gathered. A crying Ankita came out of the taxi and ran towards the home. Along with her were three other Ankita’s family members, one of whom was Vivek and Ankita’s daughter.

 

The police constable on duty got back in action and started to stop Ankita, when a police inspector appeared from the home. He asked some basic details from Ankita and allowed her inside the home, still asking her to stay away from Vivek’s body, till the police forensic team was done with the inspection. It was getting difficult for her family members to control Ankita, while their daughter, who was too young to understand the loss, was crying because of the commotion at her home.

To read more, get your copy of Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories, by clicking on the link.

 

My self-belief: Rekindled - Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories

“Congratulations to you sweetheart! We are moving to Oslo.” Said Yaami, as she hugged her husband, Sharad, after disconnecting the morning call.

Sharad responded – “Oh wow! So, finally, you are getting in the big league. Congratulations Yaami!”

“And, Sharad, that’s just the first part of the story. I am getting a promotion as well.”

They cuddled up in each other’s arms and Yaami continued – “It also means that you will be able to pursue your Doctorate from the University of Oslo.”

 

Both kissed and then, Sharad got up from bed as he had to prepare breakfast and get their son – Yash, ready for his school. Yaami and Sharad were ideal modern-day couple. Yaami had been working for last few years with Conquest, which was becoming a big name in the Technology Industry. She was managing a team, which dealt with Internet of Things (IoT) for Conquest. While Sharad, who was working as a Senior Manager with a big business consulting firm, a year ago, decided to follow his passion of studying Theology and then getting into Social Services.

Yaami’s organization Conquest, followed a Flatarchy, in terms of organizational structure. Flatarchy can be understood as a combination of hierarchies and flat organizations. With the present day VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) corporate world and the dynamism involved in this type of an organizational structure, Yaami had been sometimes managing a cross-skilled team and at others she was herself a part of the bigger team. With her organization’s focus on IoT, this type of an organizational structure helped in generation of diverse ideas as well as it helped Conquest to have more time and money for creating innovative products, than, if it would have a set Research and Development department. On all these fronts, Yaami had consistently been scoring high. Hence, she was the one considered for this promotion as well as movement to the global office in Oslo. There was lots of trust between her and the organization.

The time left to prepare for departure was less than a month. The family started preparing on a war-footing. The Visas for the family were facilitated by the Conquest team. The luggage was packed, tickets and visa done, and the trio left off for Oslo. On reaching Oslo, the family was greeted with intense cold, at least, as compared to India. The office had booked a cab, in which the family reached the hotel – Scandic Byporten.

The next day started on a high note. Yaami left for office along with her family. After getting the SIM Cards and discussing the arrangements done by the Conquest admin team, Sharad took the office provided cab and started scouting for school for Yash. He had already had some communication going on, with the University of Oslo, regarding his application for his Doctorate program.

Yaami was welcomed warmly by her new reporting manager, Henriette. Henriette was heading the function – Innovation. She shook hands with Yaami and said – “Welcome to Norway, Yaami. It’s a pleasure to have you joining the Innovation team.”

“Thank you, Henriette, the pleasure is mine. I am sure, it would be a wonderful experience, working with you.”

“You might be feeling a climatic shift, from the extremes that you have, in India, Yaami!”

“Oh yes! There is a stark difference. Though, the amount of pollution is much lower. One of the main causes would also be the difference in the populations of major cities in India vis-à-vis here, in Oslo.”

The conversation started picking up and Henriette then, took Yaami to meet up with the team. There were a couple of team members from Asia, 1 from Bangladesh and another one from Thailand. They were having a general conversation about the work, the projects that were running when Yaami’s phone rang. It was Sahurya calling her at around 3:00 PM.

“Hi Yaami!” his tone was not the usual tone of voice. Though, Yaami thought, it might be because of the travel and the cold weather.

To read more, get your copy of Corporate Anecdotes: A collection of short stories, by clicking on the link.

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