Total Pageviews

June 27, 2010

Customer Service Management - Relationship marketing (Part 4)

Loyal Customers and Loyal Workforces: Building customer loyalty will be a lot easier if you have a loyal workforce-not at all a given these days. It is especially important for you to retain those employees who interact with customers such as sales people, technical support, and customer-service people. Many companies give a lot of attention to retaining sales people but little to support people.

Blocks to Customer Focus: The problem is that most organizations only talk about customer service improvement. Many executives don't understand what outstanding customer service really looks, aren't ready to turn their organization inside out to provide it, are trying to paint happy smiles on their frontline service providers, or are bolting a customer service program on the side of their organization rather than making it a part of their core strategy.

Here's some of the biggest reasons that so few organizations successfully turn their customer service rhetoric into reality:

Little or no segmentation of markets and customer groups. The organization is trying to be everything to everybody. Customers are lumped into one indistinguishable mass and their expectations (if they've been gathered at all) aren't weighted, ranked, and segmented.

Little or no customer data. When it is collected (such as an occasional survey) positive feedback is acknowledged. But negative data is denied (usually by challenging the survey methodology). Budget priorities are set, cost containment initiated, and resources allocated with little, if any, systematic connection to customer priorities and expectations. Improvement activities are focused on what the organization or management considers important.

The organization is managed from the inside out. New products and services are pushed out to the market through sales and marketing. Customers aren't involved as active partners in research and development activities. A senior executive in a leading computer company once said, "If customers don't like our solutions, they have the wrong problems".

Employees are treated as the source of service breakdowns. Training and motivational campaigns (such as recognition programs) aim to "fix the frontline". Management pays little attention to all the research that proves "The 85/15 Rule" -- 85% of service breakdowns originate in organizational systems, processes, or structures.

Internal customer tyranny runs rampant. Departments who are served by other departments use the concept of "internal customer-supplier relationships" to get their own needs met whether or not it improves external customer service.

Blurry line of sight to external customers -- many organizational members (other then those on the front serving lines) have little interaction with external customers and often don't understand (and have little reason to care about) customers' expectations and how their work ultimately helps or hinders meeting those expectations.

One customer group dominates. For example, the focus is on retailers, agents, or distributors with scant attention paid to the ultimate consumer. Little effort is made to understand and balance the needs of both groups while pulling products and services through the distribution or service chain.

Focus is on customer acquisition rather than retention. Investments in sales and marketing to bring in new customers are much higher then efforts to retain or expand business with current customers.

Customer aren't people. Thinking of someone as a customer implies providing service, partnership, or some form of equality. However, when customers become "policyholders", "consumers", "patients", "passengers", "taxpayers", "accounts", or "advertisers" they often become less human.

June 26, 2010

Customer Service Management - Relationship marketing (Part 3)

In selling one has to consider the high cost of landing new customers versus the high profitability of a loyal customer base, you might want to reflect upon your current business strategy.

These four factors will greatly affect your ability to build a loyal customer base:

1. Products that are highly differentiated from those of the competition.

2. Higher-end products where price is not the primary buying factor.

3. Products with a high service component.

4. Multiple products for the same customer.

Market To Your Own Customers!: Giving a lot of thought to your marketing programs aimed at current customers is one aspect of building customer loyalty.

If Three years ago a house was painted, and it's now due for another coat. It is time to make a call on the customer. It would be a lot less expensive than getting new customers through his newspaper ad, and if the customer is happy with the work he won’t ask for get four competing bids. Keep all the information you can on your customers and don't hesitate to ask for the next sale.

Use Complaints To Build Business: When customers aren't happy with your business they usually won't complain to you - instead, they'll probably complain to just about everyone else they know - and take their business to your competition next time. That's why an increasing number of businesses are making follow-up calls or mailing satisfaction questionnaires after the sale is made. They find that if they promptly follow up and resolve a customer's complaint, the customer might be even more likely to do business than the average customer who didn't have a complaint.

In many business situations, the customer will have many more interactions after the sale with technical, service, or customer support people than they did with the sales people. So if you're serious about retaining customers or getting referrals, these interactions are the ones that are really going to matter. They really should be handled with the same attention and focus that sales calls get because in a way they are sales calls for repeat business.

Reach Out To Your Customers!: Contact . . . contact . . . contact with current customers is a good way to build their loyalty. The more the customer sees someone from your firm, the more likely you'll get the next order. Send Christmas cards, see them at trade shows, stop by to make sure everything's okay.

Send a simple newsletter to your customers-tell them about the great things that are happening at your firm and include some useful information for them. Send them copies of any media clippings about your firm. Invite them to free seminars. The more they know about you, the more they see you as someone out to help them, the more they know about your accomplishments-the more loyal a customer they will be.

June 25, 2010

Customer Service Management - Relationship marketing (Part 2)

Focus on Filling Customers' Needs: The better your product or service fits your customers' needs, the more sales you will have. When customers know you sincerely care about what they want and need, they will feel secure that they are making the right decision in buying from you.

By clearly identifying the needs of your customers, you can also confirm whether or not they are part of your target market. Even if they really do not require what you have, you can still build trust and improve your relationship by being candid and referring them to a more suitable resource. You never know when this good deed will return to you in the form of highly qualified referral business.

Listen More Than You Talk : Something magical happens when people give their undivided attention to others, without interrupting or focusing on what they are going to say next. This is true whether the environment is professional or personal. However, it is often overlooked in the context of establishing a business relationship, much to the detriment of the seller. After all, if you do all the talking, you will never learn anything about your prospect.

When you listen more than you talk, customers realize you are genuinely interested in them, and that you are trying to understand their specific situation. They feel more comfortable with you, and will soon realize you are on their side. Make active listening a regular practice, and you will find it much easier to create excellent relationships with your customers.

A Different Framework for Selling: Although a lot has been written recently about relationship selling, the concept itself is not new. The principles involved have always worked, and are even more important in today's highly service-oriented market environment.

Relationship selling does not consist of a simple set of techniques you have to master. It is a way of conducting yourself in the business world that is flexible, cooperative and professional. When selling in a context of building healthy relationships, you are operating as an ethical, considerate and helpful human being. You are also building your communication and other personal development skills. This is not only satisfying, but also quite effective in creating a steady stream of sales for your business.

Building realtionships with clients is the key:  It is very important of prospects seeing you as an expert, someone who can help solve their problems. Bringing all of the elements together is critical: relationship, sales process and expertise. One could even say that a proper sales relationship strikes a balance between friendship and caring on one hand, and professionalism and knowledge on the other.

Customer Loyalty: It takes a lot less money to increase your retention of current customers than to find new ones. It takes five times as much effort to attract new customers than retaining old customers.

June 24, 2010

Customer Service Management - Relationship marketing (Part 1)

There is a way to sell that is positive, rewarding and enjoyable. And it helps handle that fear of rejection as well. It's called relationship selling, and is the way effective, professional salespeople have always operated.

Relationship selling applies to any kind of business, whether retail or business-to-business, product or service. While the steps to the sales process may vary slightly for each type, the over-all theme of building relationships is consistent throughout.

Traditional vs. Relationship Selling: There are lots of techniques to get sales. While these techniques can be very useful, they may also get the way if used without first building a relationship with sales prospects. In contrast, relationship selling is a win/win game. If the product or service being sold truly meets the needs of the buyer, both parties benefit as a result of the sale.

Today's customers have become more sophisticated and demanding of higher levels of customer service than ever before. They want some-one they can trust who understands their needs and wants. This is particularly important during slow economic times, when most people make buying decisions, even small ones, very carefully.

Also keep in mind that the best sources of new business are existing customers and referrals from these customers. To help ensure the success of your venture, take the time to build relationships with your customers, rather than just focusing on making the immediate sale. Although relationship selling may take longer to produce results, it is definitely worth it in the long run. You will be well rewarded with high levels of repeat business and referrals from happy customers.

Build Trust: People tend to do business with those they like and trust. Look into your own buying experiences. Have you ever walked away from a transaction because you did not trust the salesperson to deliver what was being promised, or because you just plain didn't like the man or woman? And conversely, haven't you found yourself going back again and again to do business with helpful and honest salespeople?

How do you build trust in a business environment? Let your prospects and customers get to know you. Make sure they understand why you started your business, and why you believe in your product or service. You might also get involved in industry or neighborhood organizations where you can meet your prospects and customers in a different environment. They can experience another side of you, and get to know you as a person, not just as a vendor. While you are still selling the benefits of your product or service, you are also selling yourself.

Another way to build trust is to keep your word. From follow-up calls to delivering on time, keeping your word can be one of your most powerful sales tools. Of course unexpected things do happen, and sometimes you cannot keep your promises. When this occurs, communicate with your prospect or customer, and inquire whether the change is workable and what you can do to lessen the inconvenience. That way you keep your trust level intact, or may even strengthen it as a result.

June 23, 2010

Libraries and marketing of books

One of my passions is travelling. My bug to travel has taken me to many places and one of the places that I visited was USA. USA is a treasure cove for book lovers. The community (government) libraries are so well maintained that it is not right that should be compared with our own poorly run government libraries in India. Membership in the library is free and members can borrow as many books as they like. It is very common to see book lovers come and load a suitcase full of books and take them away. If the books are returned within time there is no late fee. But there is a heavy penalty of one dollar per week for late returning of books. The issual and returning are all automatic. The member himself has to swipe the books for the issual and drop the returned books in a huge chute that carries the books automatically to the respective rooms.

The community library is a place for old books. Members drop their unwanted books, novels, journals. Other members can take any book that they fancy and pay whatever money that they feel the book is worth. The entire system works on a very transparent way and it so astonishing to note that no one tries to cheat and I am sure that this way the library gets more money in its cash box than if it were to mark the price and sell the same with lots of supervision.

Other libraries make it even more interesting by packing more than 20 popular paper backs, popular books and novels and sell them at a throw away price of 10 dollars. It is akin to playing the Russian roulette. You never know. One might draw duds all the time or end up with 20 classics at a throw away price of 10 dollars! The risk and the fun of finding a rare book is the excitement in such a transaction.

Book sellers like Barnes and Noble have taken marketing of books to the next level. Their stores are libraries in their own right. A reader can happily browse books and settle down on comfortable chairs and read at his or her own convenience. One can read the entire book or read a part and buy the book. Shoppers would always flock to a shop that appears to be crowded. The sight of people sitting and reading stimulate others to come in and they would either sit down and read or buy the book and take it away. Indian book sellers are also catching up. Crosswords in India also encourage visitors to come in and sample their books before buying.

All in all libraries is a great place to relax and gain knowledge at the same time. Like the saying goes “there is no greater friend than a book” and no better place to find that great friend than in a humble library.

June 22, 2010


A manager is supposed to be a good communicator. As a budding manager you are not only tested in the examination halls about the conceptual skills you would also be tested in your communication skills. This takes the form of the Viva-voce. The first viva-voce will be held at the end of the second semester and the second viva-voce will be held at the end of the fourth semester. The first viva-voce will test your knowledge of the first two semesters and the second viva-voce will test your knowledge of the entire four semesters.

One of the things that every candidate should posses while facing an interview is presence of mind. A bright freshly minted IIM topper who incidentally was a topper at IIT too had prepared very thoroughly for his interview at his holy grail – HLL (now Hindustan Unilever Limited). He has all his certificates neatly ready. His suit was immaculate and his shoes were shining. As he was entering into the interview room our candidate trips and falls flat on his face. As he is falling he thought “Oh my good here goes my chance of getting in HUL”. Slowly our IIM graduate gets up dusts himself and says “thank god I fell in good company!” The horrified interviewers were greatly relieved at his ready wit. It goes without saying that our IIM graduate got his dream assignment at HUL and went on to become one of the top honchos at HUL.

Some do’s and don’ts for facing in the viva-voce or an interview:

• Wear a good and clean dress, remember first impressions are the best impressions
• For god’s sake no bad odor. Invest in a good deodorant.
• For men dark trousers and light shirt with a tie is a very appropriate dress. Always see that you wear formal shoes and that your hair is combed properly and that you are cleanly shaved
• For the women any appropriate dress will do. If you are comfortable in saree do wear it. You appear more mature.
• Knock before you enter the room,
• Wish all the members a cheerful “Good morning”
• Wait till a examiner asks you to sit down
• St down with a thank you. Sit upright and don’t slouch in the chair. Don’t put hands on the table (you might drum the table. Definite sign of nervousness).
• Don’t cross your legs (a sign of defensiveness). Sit upright, put your chin up and show that you are a confident person and that you are going to enjoy the viva-voce,
• Listen carefully and don’t interrupt,
• Answer clearly and audibly. Please don’t mumble,
• Don’t try to bluff. The examiner will catch you out,
• Even if you don’t agree with the examiner don’t argue. Nobody has got better marks by arguing
• Don’t make irritating noises like dragging of chairs, hitting the table with your pen or coughing. They irritate the examiners.
• Always maintain eye contact. Not maintaining eye contact means that you are unsure about what you say
• Always try to illustrate what you say with examples. Examiners are known to appreciate when you lace theory with examples

Don’t show that you are nervous. Keep smiling and at the end don’t forget to thank the examiners for their time.

June 21, 2010

Project work

Project work is the best way to practice what you have learnt from the subjects. The purpose of including  project work in the M.B.A programme is to provide you an opportunity to investigate a problem applying management concepts in scientific manner. It enables you to apply your conceptual knowledge in a practical situation and to learn the art of conducting a study in a systematic way and presenting its findings in a clear and lucid fashion.

As a budding manager you will be constantly seeking information to base your decisions. How well you collect, synthesize and make the data meaningful, is what you learn through this process.

A project is a scientific and systematic study of real issue or a problem intended to be resolved using management concepts. The problem can be big or small. The problem should be picked up from the specialization that you will be choosing. The essential requirement of a project is that it should scientific collection, analysis and interpretation of data leading to valid conclusions.

The questions that you should ask yourself before selecting a project

• Will the implementation of the project bring about an improvement in the present status of an activity and can this improvement be quantified?

• Does the project have underlying management principle, frame work or model based on which the data is collected, analyzed and arguments developed?

• Is the project idea applicable in other similar situation?

• Does the project report take into factual data, which is relevant to the particular situation?

The first step of the project work is to choose a suitable topic for study. This choice will be entirely personal emerging from your area of interest. There can be more than one topic in each area. When faced with a wide choice. A discussion with your classmates or your supervisor can help you in narrowing down your choice through elimination. While selecting a topic, you have to take into consideration the organization you work in and the opportunity you have at your command to generate relevant data.

The organization chosen for a project should be given lot of thinking about. The organization that is chosen should be a well-known company. It becomes very important because in the job interview you will be asked questions about your project work. This is because project is the only original work that you would have undertaken in the entire two year M.B.A course.

Some dos and don’ts while doing the project working at the organization:

• Always be punctual. Remember punctuality is a hygiene factor. If you are punctual no one comments about it,. But if you are late it would definitely be commented about

• Dress appropriately. It the employees wear formal dress, you too dress formally. When you are in Rome do as Romans do.

• Do not indulge in office gossip. Remember you are there only for two months.

• Use office resources carefully and do not take office stationery to your house.

• Be careful about what information can be collected and what can’t be collected. Always take permission about what information can be used. Remember once some information is used and subsequently it becomes a part of a a project report it comes into public domain and information is open for public consumption.

• Please give small token of appreciation to your guide for all the help and cooperation. It can be a small pen or a small table top item but it would be appreciated. Also do not forget to send a thank you e-mail followed by a formal letter of thanks signed by your HOD or by your college guide.

June 20, 2010

Origins of Famous company names (Part 2)

12. Lotus: Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from the lotus position or 'padmasana.' Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

13. Microsoft: It was coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.

14. Motorola: Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.

15. Nike: named after the Greek goddess of victory.

16. Nokia: started as a wood pulp mill the company expanded into producing rubber products in the Finnish city of Nokia. The company later adopted the city’s name.

17. Oracle: Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such).

18. Pepsi: named from the digestive enzyme pepsin

19. Red Hat: Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. He lost it and had to search for it desperately. The manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found by anyone!

20. Reebok: alternate spelling of rhebok an African antelope.

21. SAP: "Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing", formed by four ex-IBM employees who used to work in the 'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM.

22. Samsung: means three stars in Korean language.

23. Sanyo: means three oceans in Japanese language.

24. Sony: From the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.

25. Sun Microsystems: Founded by four Stanford University buddies, Sun is the acronym for Stanford University Network.

26. Xerox: The Greek root "xer" means dry. The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his product Xerox as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying.

27. Yahoo: The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos. Another popular belief is that Yahoo stands for Yet another hierarchical officious Oracle.

June 19, 2010

Origins of Famous company names (Part 1)

1. Adobe: The name came from the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

2. Apache: It got its name because its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA's httpd daemon. The result was 'A PAtCHy' server - thus, the name Apache.

3. Apple Computers: Favorite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock.

4. Cisco: The name is not an acronym but an abbreviation of San Francisco. The company's logo reflects its San Francisco name heritage. It represents a stylized Golden Gate Bridge.

5. Coco-cola: derived from coca leaves and kola nuts used in flavoring. Coca-cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to make the name look better.

6. Google: The name started as a jockey boast about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders - Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to ‘Google’.

7. Hotmail: Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing email via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "html" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casings.

8. Hewlett-Packard: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.

9. Intel: Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company ' Moore Noyce' but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain, so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated Electronics.

10. KFC: short for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is popularly believed that the company adopted the abbreviated name in 1991 to avoid the unhealthy connotation of the word “fried”.

11. Kodak: the word has no meaning. It is one of the twists in the corporate world. Eastman Company the makers of Kodak researched and found out that KODAK does not mean anything in any language. As it means nothing there is no chance of the name being misunderstood in any language of the world.

June 18, 2010

“Cry, my beloved earth” (Part 2)

The consequences are frightening and bone chilling. We feel inadequate and hapless. But like always at the end of the tunnel there is bright light. People have woken up to the ugly facts of ecological degradation and have stated to act. There is an international movement called the Green Peace, which is very active in this regards. Green peace based in Germany is a very vocal ecological group, which educates the people about the bad effects of tampering with Mother earth. Their stringent opposition of nuclear reactors has earned them worldwide admiration.

In India we have had pioneers threading the path of ecological protection. The person who comes to mind is Sunderal Bahuguna of the “Chipko movement”. Sunderlal Bahuguna propagated the concept of being friendly to the trees. He rightly said that trees are mans’ best friends. If you cut one tree you are cutting off generations of friends. To emphasize his point Bahuguna and his followers would hug the tree and would not allow anybody to cut it down. And the recent battle of Narmada Bachoo Angolan is another case in point where a Non government organization is battling everybody including the government to protect the interest of the fragile river eco- system and the lifes of the native tribes whose lives are being threatened by the building of the Sardar Sarover Dam.

So what can we do? We form the silent majority of the people who does not do anything and we don’t care. This attitude has to change. Ecological degradation can’t be no longer their (read western countries) problem. It is our problem and we better act. The action can’t be postponed. Let us voice our displeasure about degradation. Lets us stop using plastic bags. Let us educate the others the importance of maintaining the correct ecological balance. Let us support the organizations fighting for the protection of the fragile ecology of Mother Nature. If it is possible let us join these pressure groups.

An attempt should be made to discuss these issues threadbare and force our elected representatives and the government to enact legislations to protect the nature’s balance. And as vigilant descendents of Mother Nature let us be vigilant and see that our government actually implements the legislations that are enacted. These are not actions that will give us any applause and recognition. These are bare necessities so that future generations should not put the blame on our doorstep saying “ that was the century that completely destroyed the ecological balance of Mother Nature”.

All these have to done with the aim of “ think global, act local”. If all of us act responsibly locally, then the results will be felt at a global level. The recouping capacity of Mother Nature is truly amazing. Given time and adequate protection, she will be ready to serve mankind forever. As we end let us remember the words of Milton, I quote “ they also serve, those who stand and stare” Unquote. Those are people like you, me and all of us.

June 17, 2010

“Cry, my beloved earth” (Part 1)

Earth the jewel in the crown of our solar system is literally at the crossroads. The types of changes that look nearly millions of years will are now looking to be happening like one scientist says in a blink of the eye. Planet earth seems to be hurling towards a catastrophic end and as we read on, is the obituary column being written for our dear mother earth.

Lets put things in the right perspective. Earth is a small planet in the solar system which itself is only one among the many solar systems. Seen from that angle earth is not even a tiny speck in the scheme of things on this mighty universe.

But what a speck!. Blessed with the coincidence of unique circumstances, which created the life-nourishing atmosphere, earth quickly developed a repertoire of breath taking variety of living things and even more importantly the unique ecological balance. Viruses, bacteria, plants, animals, deserts, rivers, and mountains you name it and earth has it all. It is not surprising that many cultures and civilizations have worshipped mother earth as a goddess, a goddess who nourishes and makes us live.

But how the times have changed. What has once been worshipped has become a thing that can be plundered at will and fancy by all the concerned. The fragile ecological balance is being torn apart. Man, the supreme species should realize that earth was not his creation. And what is not your creation can’t be tampered or destroyed.

That brings us to the topic for today. Ecological imbalances and its consequences. Ecological balance is the checking mechanism of Mother Nature. For e.g.: The grass eaten by the deer is the starting point of the cycle. The deer itself is eaten by the tiger. And the tiger dung is eaten by the dung beetles whose excreta is again going back as fertilizer back to the soil. See the beautiful checks and balances of Mother Nature. In her bank the credits and debits are always equally balanced.

The adverse effects of the ecological degradation are being felt everwhere.

1. The seas have stared receding in some cases and starting to come more and more into the land. Both the cases have disastrous results for us. Lets not forget that all our deserts have been fertile lands before man started playing the dangerous game of tampering with the ecological system.

2. Our fertile upper soil of fields is being washed away into the sea and very soon we might not have soil to feed the teeming Indian population.

3. The use of cars and automobiles have given us lots of convenience but they release lots of carbon-mono-oxide. This excess carbon-mono-oxide in the atmosphere has let to a resultant global warming, where the earth itself is getting so warm that in the near future it might become inhospitable.

4. The use of products that use compressed air like aerosol cans has created holes on the ozone layer. Ozone layer is the layer in the atmosphere that protects us from ultra violet radiation. Without ozone layer we would be as dead as a dodo

5. The excessive use of ground water has seen the lowering of the water table. This means that we dig deeper and deeper to find ground water. This heavy pounding of mother earth has led to increasing episodes of earthquakes. Lets for a minute remember the Gujarat quake in India. Chennai a very big metropolis in India recently missed an earthquake measuring a Richter 5.8; I quote “ The epicenter of the earthquake was only 20 kilometers away from Chennai. If the epicenter was chennai itself, the damage of the quake would be equivalent of the dropping of the nuclear bomb” Unquote, Frightening isn’t it.

6. The cute plastic bags that we have been using and find convenient have become ecological time bombs. These colourful creations of man are bio non degradable and lie in the folds of earth for ages are not ugly sights but also damage the ecological balance by giving out toxic fumes. Our wild and domesticated animals are dying because of the ingestion of these plastics.

June 16, 2010

Competition (Seeing the trees and missing the forest) – Part 2

In 2008, who was the toughest competitor to British Airways in India? Singapore airlines? Better still, Indian airlines? Maybe, but there are better answers. There are competitors that can hurt all these airlines and others not mentioned. The answer is videoconferencing and tele-presence services of HP and Cisco.

Travel dropped due to recession. Senior IT executives in India and abroad were compelled by their head quarters to use videoconferencing to shrink travel budget. Between 1977 and 1991 the prices of the now dead VCR (parent of Blue-Ray disc player) crashed to one-third of its original level in India. PC's price dropped from hundreds of thousands of rupees to tens of thousands. If this trend repeats then telepresence prices will also crash. Imagine the fate of airlines then. As it is not many are making money. Then it will surely be RIP ( Rest in Peace)!

Who is the competitor to Multiplexes? India has two passions. Films and cricket. The two markets were distinctly different. So were the icons. The cricket gods were Sachin and Sehwag. The filmi gods were the Khans (Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and the other Khans who followed suit). That was, when cricket was fundamentally test cricket or at best 50 over cricket. Then came IPL and the two markets collapsed into one. IPL brought cricket down to 20 over’s.

Suddenly an IPL match was reduced to the length of a 3 hour movie. Cricket became film's competitor. On the eve of IPL matches movie halls ran empty. Desperate multiplex owners requisitioned the rights for screening IPL matches at movie halls to hang on to the audience. If IPL were to become the mainstay of cricket, as it is likely to be, films have to sequence their releases so as not clash with IPL matches. As far as the audience is concerned both are what in India are called 3 hour "tamasha" (entertainment). Cricket season might push films out of the market.

Look at the products that vanished from India in the last 20 years. When did you last see a black and white movie? When did you last use a fountain pen? When did you last type on a typewriter? The answer for all the above is "I don't remember!" For some time there was a mild substitute for the typewriter called electronic typewriter that had limited memory. Then came the computer and mowed them all. Today most use the computer as an upgraded typewriter. Typewriters per se are nowhere to be seen.

What killed the Alarm Clock? One last illustration. 20 years back what were Indians using to wake them up in the morning? The answer is "alarm clock." The alarm clock was a monster made of mechanical springs. It had to be physically keyed every day to keep it running. It made so much noise by way of alarm, that it woke you up and the rest of the colony. Then came quartz clocks which were sleeker. They were much more gentle though still quaintly called "alarms." What do we use today for waking up in the morning? Cell phone! An entire industry of clocks disappeared without warning thanks to cell phones. Big watch companies like Titan were the losers. You never know in which bush your competitor is hiding!

June 15, 2010

Competition (Seeing the trees and missing the forest) – Part 1

Who sells the largest number of cameras in India? Your guess is likely to be Sony, Canon or Nikon. Answer is none of the above. The winner is Nokia whose main line of business in India is not cameras but cell phones.

Reason being cameras bundled with cell phones are outselling stand alone cameras. Now, what prevents the cell phone from replacing the camera outright? Nothing at all. One can only hope the Sony’s and Canons are taking note.

Try this. Who is the biggest in music business in India? You think it is HMV Sa-Re-Ga-Ma? Sorry. The answer is Airtel. By selling caller tunes (that play for 30 seconds) Airtel makes more than what music companies make by selling music albums (that run for hours).

Incidentally Airtel is not in music business. It is the mobile service provider with the largest subscriber base in India. That sort of competitor is difficult to detect, even more difficult to beat (by the time you have identified him he has already gone past you). But if you imagine that Nokia and Bharti (Airtel's parent) are breathing easy you can't be farther from truth.

Nokia confessed that they all but missed the Smartphone bus. They admit that Apple's I phone and Google's Android can make life difficult in future. But you never thought Google was a mobile company, did you? If these illustrations mean anything, there is a bigger game unfolding. It is not so much about mobile or music or camera or emails?

The "Mahabharat" (the great Indian epic battle) is about "what is tomorrow's personal digital device"? Will it be a high end mobile or a palmtop with a telephone? All these are little wars that add up to that big battle. Hiding behind all these wars is a gem of a question - "who is my competitor?"

Once in a while, to intrigue any student toss a question at them. It says "What Apple did to Sony, Sony did to Kodak, explain?" The smart ones get the answer almost immediately. Sony defined its market as audio (music from the walkman). They never expected an IT company like Apple to encroach into their audio domain. Come to think of it, is it really surprising? Apple as a computer maker has both audio and video capabilities. So as Kodak defined its business as film cameras, Sony defines its businesses as "digital."

In digital camera the two markets perfectly meshed. Kodak was torn between going digital and sacrificing money on camera film or staying with films and getting left behind in digital technology. Left undecided it lost in both. It had to. It did not ask the question "who is my competitor for tomorrow?" The same was true for IBM whose mainframe revenue prevented it from seeing the PC. The same was true of Bill Gates who declared "internet is a fad!" and then turned around to bundle the browser with windows to bury Netscape. The point is not who is today's competitor. Today's competitor is obvious. Tomorrow's is not.

June 14, 2010

Biodata, resume or curriculum Vittae (part 2)

So now that we have seen what can go wrong with the bio-data let us examine how to prepare a correct bio-data.

1. Ask yourself what is the objective of sending the bio-data. The basic objective is to introduce yourself. The bio-data should be used as a tantalizing weapon. It should arouse interest in the candidate but should not give out too much information. If the bio-data gives out too much information the company may not want to call you for an interview. The idea is to create interest and leading to a face-to-face interview.

2. A bio-data should present information that shows the candidate in the best light akin the soft focus of a camera. If you have scored consistency high GPA mention it. If there is too much variance in the GPA just mention your academic qualifications.

3. Don't try to hide information. If there is a gap between your grade 12 and the diploma or the degree mention it and don't wait for the interviewer to point it out to you.

4. Be very careful about the spellings. The name of the company where you are working or the company were you have done your project should be spelt out correctly. Also take care that there are no grammatical errors and that your punctuation is correct.

5. No bio-data should be submitted with out giving at lest two references. The references are people of eminence who can vouch for the details that you have given in the bio-data. Usually relatives and immediate family should not be given out as references. Give your teachers and head of the department name or names of people who know you well as references. It is considered proper etiquette to give copies of your bio-data to your references so that if an enquiry is made about you, the references can vouch for you based on your bio-data available with them. The reference's telephone numbers (both office and residence) should be furnished. The timing to contact then at office and at residence should be specified.

6. The structure of the bio-data is very important. The font used should be readable and the matter should be justified. Bold, centering, underlining and indents can be used to highlight the important points.

7. Coming to the content part. The following should definitely be present in any bio-data.

- Name of the candidate :
- Age :
- Sex :
- father's name :
- Address :
- Telephone number  & e-mail :

Career objective : career objective should be mentioned very briefly and lucidly

Academic qualifications: Starting from the from recent one work your way to the back. Mention course, college, university or board, subjects studied, year of passing and the GPA. Also mention awards or ranks or any certificates of excellence.

Other qualifications: Other or extra qualifications like computer language skills, proficiency certificates or courses undergone can be mentioned.

Extracurricular activities: If you are good at any sport, games or if involved in debating, elocution or other activities, mention them. Care should be taken to mention only those activities that will enhance your attractiveness to the company.

Hobbies: Hobbies which are intellectually stimulating can be mentioned like collecting profiles of famous CEOs. Watching football is hardly a stimulating hobby!.

Project: If you have done a project mention it. Title of the project, guide's name, the objectives of the study and the results can be given briefly. This is very important because most probably project is the only original work done by you in your entire academic life. Most candidates would be grilled in the interview on their project. So score as many points as possible in project work.

References: Mention at least two eminent person's references

At the bottom of the bio-data it is important that you mention the place, date and sign the bio-data. As far as possible send only fresh printouts of your bio-data. If fresh printouts are not possible take GOOD photocopies. There is nothing more annoying than badly photocopied bio-data smelling of cheap chemicals. You could also try taking printouts on different colored papers or even on hand made paper. This would create an immediate impression and your bio-data would immoderately stand out.

Finally the covering letter becomes very important. Covering letter should always be an original letter and should never be a photocopy. The covering letter should be written in simple English mentioning the advertisement and the post to which you are applying for, the code number of the post if given. Also mention that you are enclosing your bio-data. Close the covering letter with polite thanks. That's about it. Let us hope that you would use the above tips in crossing the first barrier to enter into a big corporation.

June 13, 2010

Biodata, resume or curriculum Vittae (part 1)

How many times have we heard the word bio-data, resume, or curriculum Vittae and wondered what it means. Many jokes are cracked about the word bio-data. He carries his bio-data in his pocket. His bio-data is updated every week etc. Let us see what is a bio-data and how is it useful.

Bio-data is the person's identity card or the first application that introduces the person to the company or the person who is interested. The different types of bio-data are job bio-data, marriage bio-data, social bio-data etc. What ever is the type of bio-data the basic objectives of any bio-data is to introduce the person.

Let us remember that in the modern dog eat dog world the competition is very severe and cut throat. Some famous companies get thousands of bio-data in the course of a single day. So one has to consciously work to make one's bio-data as attractive as possible.

It is relevant to mention an example here. Knowing that many people are applying for a coveted job an applicant applying for a post in a famous advertising agency sent a potato as his bio-data saying very crispy "I want to be a potato in your organization". He was called to the interview and he was asked as to what he means by that outrageous statement. The candidate replied" Sure sir, A potato is a very versatile vegetable, it can be used in any dish, it can be used to enrich any dish and it gives lots of energy. So like a potato you will find me very versatile and I would fit into any department and I would be very versatile". Needless to say he got the job.

One more innovative way of introducing oneself was tried out in the USA where a bright youngster booked time on the cable television and dressed himself and showed himself on the TV talking about his strengths and weaknesses and so on.

But for most of the time we have to limit ourselves to the old and trusted printed bio-data. The company that invites applications for any post usually gets a very large number of applications for the post. So what is the basis of filtration? Let us face the first shock. Nearly 75% to 80% of the bio-data are rejected outright on the following basis.

Candidates submitting bio-data filled on ready made forms available at stationery shops. Submitting of Biodata on ready made forms indicate very low level of interest from the candidate side.

Badly photocopied bio-data. photocopied bio-data are an indication of multiple applications being sent out

Not adhering to the standards being set by the company. Not sending the photograph when asked for, not submitting the photocopy of marks sheets or not sending testimonials or not getting the photocopies attested.

Not sending a covering letter. A covering letter is very important and it personalizes the application.

Making silly mistakes. The usual ones are the wrongly spelt out names of the company or the person to whom the letter is addressed etc. Don't expect the company to send you a call letter when you can't even spell the company's name properly.

The cover enclosing the bio-data is stuck with too much gum and this irritates the person who is opening the bio-data and this might result in a torn bio-data.

Cyber crimes (Part 2)

Many new types of duping with IT have come to the fore. One enterprising man hit upon a very simple idea and made a lot of money before the police come down upon him. His modus operandi was very simple. He would request his friend, a waiter in a famous five star hotel to note down the credit card numbers of the customers paying by credit cards. This man would later shop on-line (buying things on the net using the computers) and buy electronic items. The crime was very simple to commit because in on-line shopping only the credit card number has to be given and no signature is taken.

The Police officer who was speaking to the press later on cautioned the general public not to let the credit card number out of their sight when they are making payments. But what is the point of this exercise? Any how the establishment that has taken a credit card payment holds on to a copy of the bill and the bill has the number of the credit card.

The latest in the sordid tale of cyber crime has come to light recently. A credit card holder is usually allowed only a small percentage of value to be withdrawn in cash terms and a larger percentage of value is allowed in terms of credit. For e.g.: If the total limit is 3000 $ then 1,200 $ can be drawn as cash and goods worth 1,800 $ can be bought on credit terms. To avail the credit terms one has to buy he goods and later pay. The twist comes here. The credit card holder approaches a middleman who would do the following. He would approach a shop keeper who would bill the card holder 3000 $ but would not part with any goods.

In the above transaction the shop keeper gets 250 $ the middleman gets 250 $ and the credit card holder would get 2,500 $ when he is entitled to only 1,200 $. The whole problem with the credit cards is that people have found out indigenous ways of making the most of it. One interesting point is that whenever a credit card owner wants cash he would simply buy a train ticket let’s say of worth 500 $ and immediately cancel the same the next day. The railway department would deduct a nominal amount and the credit card owner would have hard cash of nearly 500 $ worth. It was only recently that the railway departments of many countries are issuing a credit slip and are not handing over cash in case of cancellation.

So the cyber thieves are alive and in many cases much smarter than the cops themselves. So what has to be done to limit (it can't totally be eradicated). Some of the possible solutions to this very worrying problem could be as follows;

- Educate the law enforcement officers with the latest in the IT and also with the latest types of cyber crimes and how these crimes are being tackled in the danced countries

- Introduce a separate subject called Cyber law or cyber crime and make it compulsory for all lawyers police officers, judges and the rest of the law enforcement agencies

- Educate the users if the IT and the relates services like credit card holders, Cell phone owners about the possible misuses and how to guard themselves against these types of crimes.

- Let all the service providers come together and agree on a common protocol, policing or a security system that would protect the common user from a third party misuse.

All the new technologies at one time or another have been seen as destructive or not progressive enough. Information technology can be more of a boon than a bane or a curse. Let us all work together and see that it remains that way.

June 11, 2010

Cyber crimes (Part 1)

Cyber the word or the ticket to everything good in this world has assumed proportions in this world (real/virtual) whose ramifications look very Orwellian. It has left a very harassed house-wife to say to her soft(ware) husband " why are you taking out your E-motions on me?". It has become fashionable to be E-talking now days. What with E-commerce, E-learning, E-business and others. One can't be left E-gnorant of the lingua franca of the modern world. But once you cut through the hype, the world that will soon encompass us looks very depressing and in many cases down right frightening.

Many governments have introduced cyber bills and the noble aim of these bills is to propel those countries into the forefront of IT (information Technology) transition. All over the world IT has become the buzzword and many other sectors have been ignored. What we are forgetting is that IT at best can be a support service that can flourish if the industry and the manufacturing sector props it up. Otherwise it will always remain a self feeding parasite. IT creates its own problems and spends enormous amounts of money in solving the same. Let's not forget the billions of dollars spent on Y2K problem or the billions that are being spent on viruses and hackers and the rest of the cyber crimes. This brings us to the topic of discussion, Cyber crime.

Crime is any outrage against the society. That is to say that by our actions which may or may not be beneficial to us we are harming the interest of many others directly or indirectly. E.g.: sending unwanted E-mails or spamming. Crime is profitable for the perpetuators of the crime except in the case of cyber crime. What is the profit motive of a virus spreader or a spammer? May be it is the thrill of being a nuisance value to the others?

One of the earlier cyber crimes is that of the hacking. It has been said that most of the hackers are very intelligent software professionals who are bored and break into protected websites of different government and non-government organizations and change the text and generally play havoc. One thing interesting about the hackers is that now days they are employed by IT giants. These IT giants routinely invite famous hackers to hack into their systems or networks.

If the hacker is able to hack the system the giant pays the agreed amount. Then the company goes back to the drawing board and tries to build better firewalls (protectors that protect against any hackers). But it is debatable whether one can encourage the hackers by providing them an incentive to hack into systems even with the noble idea of building better security.

Talking of cyber crimes leads to very good examples or incidents. One can remember a third world country citizen who duped a very famous organization like the "Euro lottery". This enterprising person claimed to have won nearly 110 Million Birr in the Euro lottery only by cleverly fiddling around with the IT networks. When asked about the Euro lottery winner the site immediately gives out the name of this enterprising person. Naturally the name and fame that the perpetuator got out of this action was very high till the bubble was burst. Same is the case with the creator of the Love-bug the virus that almost sent many companies into a downward spiral of loss and destruction. The creator of love bug was a Pilipino who was not even technically qualified.

June 10, 2010

Recruitment and Selection of Sales personnel (Part 3)

The external sources of recruitment include

• Walk in applications or so-called unsolicited applications
• Employment agencies or placement companies
• Sales people calling on the company
• Employees of customers
• Sales executive clubs
• Sales force of non-competing companies
• Sales forces of competing companies
• Educational institutions or campus placements
• Students doing apprentices and summer projects in the organization.
• Indirect recruitment which includes using media like radio, television and the print media
• Some companies also use reciting brochures which are mailed to reputed educational institutions, recruiting career counselors and agents

Advantages of external recruitment include a large pool of applicants can be attracted, best candidates can be chosen, fresh blood and new initiatives can be brought into the organization. But looking at the disadvantages external recruitment is costly and very time consuming and some times unwanted people may get into the company.

Selection follows recruitment and might consist of simple one step system consisting of nothing more than an informal personal interview to complex multiple mechanisms. A selection system is a set of successful screens. At any of the screens an applicant may be drooped from further considerations. Some of the steps of the selection process include

Application blank is the first step where the candidates have to resubmit their application in a standard format in their own handwriting. This is required for standardization of the applications and also to get a sample of the candidate’s handwriting that can be used for a graphology test. Graphology test is test of handwriting that can reveal traits that the candidate might want to hide desperately. This will be followed by a preliminary interview where very basic communication skills and presentation skills of the candidate will be tested.

Written tests are used as a process of elimination. In written test aptitude, oral, theoretical and comprehension skills will be tested.

• Psychological profiling has become popular lately. In psychological profiling tests will be conducted where the personality and traits of a person will be revealed.

• Group discussions are used when there is a large pool of candidates. Candidates are given a topic, which they are supposed to discuss for a short period of time. Candidates are tested for their communication skills, leadership skills and team management skills.

Formal interview/s further can be further classified into

Interview with the immediate boss/supervisor: The immediate supervisor will test suitability of the candidate to do the job

Product Interview: In Product based interview the candidates technical knowledge will be tested

Patterned interview: In patterned interview all the candidates are asked the same set of questions. Patterned interviews are good for comparisons.

• Stress interview: In stress interview the candidate is deliberately put under a stressful situation and seen how he would react and overcome the stressful situation.

• Group interview: In Group interviews a group of interviewers ask a series of questions. The candidate is tested whether he has the ability to multi-task that is able to think in many directions at the same time.

• References, credit and police check: The next stage is reference check whether the details given in the biodata are checked to find out if they are genuine or not. Reference check will be followed by a credit check and now a day’s companies’ even resort to a police check.

• Physical Examination: In the era of litigations and consumer courts, companies take no chances. They make the candidates undergo a medical check to find about the candidate’s health status. Needless to say only candidates in prime health conditions will be considered

• Offer is the most crucial part of the selection. If the candidate passes all the above stages he would be given an offer letter. The candidate has the liberty to either accept an offer or reject it.

• On acceptance of an offer by the successful candidate an appointment order will be issued by the company specifying the terms of employment and the last date of joining of duty. With this the process of recruitment and selection process ends.

June 09, 2010

Recruitment and Selection of Sales personnel (Part 2)

The qualities that are needed to be a good sales person are

• A sales person should be a good problem solver. That is solving the problems faced by the customers.
• He should be a good listener
• He should be an active learner. That is learning on his feet.
• He should possess persistence and should be ready to wok for long periods of time. That too when results are not too apparent or forth coming
• He should be a good net worker that is should have an ability to develop and maintain healthy and beneficial contacts.
• He should posses excellent product knowledge
• He should posses Empathy that is should be able to put himself into the shoes of the customers. In other words he should have the ability to understand the customer by thinking like a customer.

There are definite advantages of choosing selling as a career. The advantages being

• No formal degree/s are needed to be a sales person
• Only smartness, presentability and good communication skills are needed
• Indian economy opening up and fields like information, communication, entertainment, retail and insurance require a large number of sales people
• There is a possibility to earn very high incomes, as incentives given are huge and very attractive.
• Sales men enjoy flexible working hours

Along with the above advantages selling has some disadvantages. The disadvantages being

• Sales men have untimely working hours
• Sales people might have to travel for long periods of time
• Time can be wasted in waiting to meet customers
• Sales men have to work alone
• There is unending pressure of meeting deadlines and targets
• Often sales men meet customers who rudely reject them and their products

Recruitment of Sales people: Recruitment is the process of attracting a large number of potential applicants to apply for the job that has to be filled up. Infact the success of the selection process depends on the quality of the recruitment process. In other words if the recruitment process is successful it will attract a large number of applicants to apply. Once a large number of applicants apply for the job it is easy to filter and pick up the ideal candidates through the selection process.

The sources of recruitment for an organization can be classified as internal sources and external sources. The internal sources of recruitment include:

• Acquaintances and friends of the employees of the company. This method is often called as employee referrals
• Recommendations from senior company executives.
• Internal transfers
• Internal promotions.

The advantages of internal sources of recruitment are loyalty can be maintained and rewarded, only people known and recommended will be considered and some amount of secrecy can be maintained. But internal source of recruitment also has some disadvantages: it leads to inbreeding, new ideas and fresh blood is not given a chance to flourish and it can lead to complacency among the existing employees, as there is no sense of competition

June 08, 2010

Recruitment and Selection of Sales personnel (Part 1)

Marketing Management: Marketing management is the analysis, planning, implementation and control of activities designed to create, develop and maintain beneficial exchanges with the prospective customers to achieve organizational objectives.

The marketing mix of a company can be classified as 4 Ps that is Product, Price, Promotion and placement. That is Product talks about the physical entity that satisfies the need or a want. Price is all about the value that has to be exchanged to procure the product. Promotion is the communication about the product or the service and placement is how the product reaches the customer.

Promotion: The third P that is Promotions is all about communicating with the customers to influence them toward buying/creating a favorable impression/reminding about his/her products and services.

Generally companies deploy the following promotion mix to achieve their promotional objectives. The promotion mix that a company usually follows is

• Advertising
• Sales promotion
• Publicity/public relations
• And Personal selling

Personal selling is the face-to-face interaction between the customer and the seller. In personal selling the seller’s employee popularly referred to as sales person or sales man explains about the product face to face that is by being present in front of the customer.

Personal selling provides lots of advantages like

• As interaction is face-to-face doubts can be clarified immediately.
• Presentation can be customized that is tuned to the needs of the customer
• Instant feedback can be taken from the customers

At the same time personal selling has some disadvantages:

• Personal selling is not possible when the buyers are very large in number
• Personal selling will not work for low cost products
• One sales people can only service a limited number of customers per day. So personal selling tends to be very costly.

Sales Management: Sales management can be defined as the recruitment, selection, training, motivation, supervision, and evaluating the sales force so that individual, organizational and customer objectives are met.

Importance Of sales people in management include
• Launching the products into existing market/new market
• Salesmen increase the sales volume and profit
• Salesmen work as the eyes and the ears of the company. For a customer the sales person is the company
• Salesmen are the creators of demand
• Salesman educates and guides the consumers
• Salesmen give customers them satisfaction by providing them the exact product or a service that is needed.
• Sales management Increases employment opportunity

General all types are sales people are clubbed together and called as salesmen. But a clear classification exists. Sales people can be classified as

Order takers: Most common of all. Order takers wait behind counters and passively accept the orders placed by customers. Examples being salesmen people serving in retail shops, sweet meat shops etc.

Mobile sales persons: Commonly seen everywhere. Mobile sales people travel in small 3 wheeler autos and tempos (small luggage carrying three wheeler vehicle). They drive up to shops and stores and persuade shopkeepers to buy their products

Counter sales people: Same as order takers but are more skilled and perform sales activities like demonstration, persuasion, negotiations and objection handling. Examples being sales people in textile and gold shops.

Product sales people: tend to be skilled and possess high level of product knowledge. Product sales people usually are graduates with good communication skills. Examples being salespeople in electronic shops.

Technical Sales people:  are very highly skilled. Usually come from the same field as the customer. They have high level of product knowledge. They are good problem solvers. Examples being sales people who sell equipment and machinery to industrial customers.

Missionary sales people: Are so called because they do not sell directly and use the indirect method. They sell the concept or idea to the opinion leaders who then market their products to the customers. Examples being medical representatives who counsel the doctors who in turn prescribe the products to the patients.

Services sales people: These are sales people who sell services and not products. Examples include all sellers from the fields of insurance, banking, real estate and other service fields.

Specialized sales people: Are so specialized that they sell in huge groups. For example Boeing and Airbus companies have huge teams of sales people who sell their products directly to kings, emperors, prime ministers, presidents and to aviation ministers.

June 07, 2010

Business Attire / Public Behavior (Part 2)

The shoes of a person are very important. It is said that in USA a lady judges a man by what type of shoes that man is wearing. Care should be taken that we wear the correct type of shoes. If it is a business meeting formal black or brown shoes should be worn. Slip-ons even though popular are frowned by the business community. The shoe should have laces and when a person sits the trouser should ride up to reveal the socks. The socks should be clean, smell fresh and should not hang limb. There is nothing more annoying than seeing limp socks when the person sits down.

Casual dressing is best left for informal occasions. Jeans and "T" shirts can be worn to the offices but is the accepted code of dress only in the software or computer companies. Anyhow it is better to check with the company before wearing informal dresses. Floral shirts with patterns and funny drawings should be kept side for parties at home. Ethnic dresses can be worn on special occasions. They look very nice and should be worn on national days and on festivals.

The hair style of a person is very important. It is better for a man to keep his hair clean, tidy and short. Shave very day and that will give a person that cutting edge and there is nothing like clean shave to give you more confidence. If you have beards trim it regularly and make it look as if you are having a beard out of choice. Otherwise it will look as if you have got out of the bed and walked into the office.

For the women in most countries the dress code is not specified. They can dress in any dress that is comfortable. They can wear western suits. But the colors should be sober and the rules for the shoes and traditional dresses that apply for the men apply for the women.

Now let us discuss lunch/dinner manners. It is supposed to be good manners for a man to help a lady sit in a restaurant before he sits down himself. Preferably the man should order the meal but only after consulting the lady. One should not place his/her elbows on the table. One should eat preferably with spoons and forks and not make clanking noises. Once we had enough cross the spoon with the fork. This is the universal indication of "I had enough". During the meal if you have to use a softy or Handkerchief use it discreetly and with less noise. It is very difficult to ignore a person who is sneezing powerfully into a totally open handkerchief or a roll of softy. And during the meal no blenching sounds should be made. Blenching during a meal is supposed to be uncouth or very bad manners.

After the meal it is good manners to compliment the banquet manager on the good meal. It is also good manners to leave a small tip as an appreciation of a good meal.

It is hoped that these small tips be memorized and practiced so that we are not ridiculed and made fun as country people.

June 06, 2010

Business Attire / Public Behavior (Part 1)

Business Attire is the art of correct dressing. One of the most memorable signboard of a tailor said, “God made man, we will make him a gentleman”.

Business is all about communication. How we can communicate with our words, thoughts and with our dress. The Americans talk of power dressing – dressing that gives an unfair advantage.

What comes even before attire is personal hygiene. A bath everyday is a must and an investment in a good deodorant is essential. People don’t expect the employees to be bathed in scents but a pleasant smell and a good after shave would enhance a person’s likeability. Remember good smell is a hygiene factor. If one is smelling nice it is hardly noticed but people with bad body odour are targeted or in many cases even ostracized.

The typical dress in the corporate world has remained British. That is shirt, trousers and shoes. Many a Britisher is amused when they see the shirt tucked into the trousers while the person is wearing casual footwear. The dress code makes it mandatory that if the shirt is tucked then shoes are mandatory.

The trouser should be of a dark colour. The number of pleats is also specified. No more than three plaits. The cut should be sober. Bell-bottoms and crotch huggers are best left to the film stars. Moreover, six pocket trousers should not even be considered.

The shirt should be of a very light colour. The styling should be easy fit and comfortable. The tie should preferably be of a contrasting colour. Broad ties are in vogue. The tie should smugly sit at the center of the collar. No slack should be visible. Whether single or double knot is a personal choice but when the tie is worn care should be taken to see that the collar is not crumbled. If the collar is crumpled it means that the collar is over sized and if the skin at the collar is pinched, it means that the collar is too tight.

The length of the tie is also very important. The end of the tie should be touching the top part of the belt. By nature ties are very visual and care should be taken to see that one does not wear funny designs, or psychedelic figures. Ties should not be crumpled. A Tie pin will keep the tie in place and will ensure that the tie does not become a portable broomstick.

What ever is the quality or the type of clothes ensures that they are always clean and well pressed. Remember that in tropical countries people perspire a lot and unwashed clothes result in obnoxious odors especially in air-conditioned offices.

The belt of-course should always be worn. The belt should not be very wide or too thin. The loose end of the belt should not be left hanging out. The length of the belt is also of very vital importance. The belt should be worn that matches the waist size with a maximum of three or four holes.

June 05, 2010

What is not taught in B-schools (Part 2)

Given below are some golden words that have to be used very judiciously.

I: The one word that you should use as less as possible. The usage of “I” word bores people.

You: The one word that you should use as frequently possible. The usage makes people happy and makes you the most popular conversationalist.

We: The word for teamwork. This denotes that you are a part of the group and not above it.

Thank you: Two words that open the doors of the world for you. Try it in all the available occasions and see the difference in treatment from all the sundry including the auto driver and the liftman. “Kindness begets kindness”.

I am sorry: Three words that turn foes into friends. While it is difficult to accept that you were at fault, once you say sorry you would be amazed at the easiness with which your apology is accepted. However, one needs to say it with the heart.

You are most welcome: Four words that will make you an again very popular.

I am proud of you: Five words that will make your team members root for you as the best leader. All of us get work done but how many of us acknowledge the fact and give the praise. Praise can move mountains. An apt compliment at the right time is a very good motivator. Try it out and see the difference.

Many of us have lost the art of writing good letters. The style of typing the date and the signature on the right side of the letter is outdated. The in-thing is to type everything on the left side of the letter. The addressing of Mrs. and Miss is out and Ms is in. It is definitely less confusing. The latest is to just say “Dear business associate” or “Dear student”. No gender specific addressing that would confuse many foreigners.

At the end of the letter the salutary signoff was usually - yours truly, yours faithfully or yours sincerely (only in the letter). The latest signoff is “with regards”. Keeping to the topic of signing off at the end, the Internet has its own protocol. Follow it or you would be considered a uneducated or uninitiated one. For e.g.: Typing in capital letters on the Internet means SHOUTING at the other person.

All of us have to remember that we can’t see ourselves except in mirrors and others see us all the time and make their assessment based on how we appear and how we behave. Like the saying goes “the first impression is the best impression”. So let us strive to make the best impression and get an unfair advantage in life. One that can propel us into the continuously evolving cauldron – life in a corporate world.

At the end, one can conclude that in most cases our bark is worse than our bite. Let us practice the art of right barking.

June 04, 2010

What is not taught in B-schools (Part 1)

Manners that are often taken for granted by us are the building blocks that decide where we end up in an organization. As a wise management guru remarked “a man is known by his dress and his address”. That is what the person wears and how he behaves or communicates. The emphasis is not on the acquired knowledge but on the social etiquette. One might have the best of the knowledge but the wrong presentation would be in simple words, fatal.

IT in USA stands for Indians and Taiwanese. Indians make the best software, Taiwanese make the best hardware and the Americans make all the money. The rules of the game are very clear. Be fine tuned to the concept of soft skills. Soft skills are man management skills that are not taught in any business school or university. Discussed below are some things that go a long way in improving business manners.

Telephone manners: Telephonic manners need to be impeccable. The other person judges us by our voice. One needs to talk clearly and precisely. “Who is that speaking?” we bark. How very impolite. The correct way is to identify oneself first and later ask permission to speak with the person. When queried, “Can I speak with so and so” the usual response is to say, “you are”. Can is the physical process of speaking like I can eat, I can walk etc. The correct way is: “May I speak?” which is requesting permission to speak to the person intended.

Workplace manners: One can judge people by what they say. When asked for volunteers for a task one worker says, “Yes! I volunteer, what is the work?” and the second worker says, “What is the work?” When told about the type of work he volunteers. No prizes for guessing who would be given the work and the recognition.

Scold in private and praise in public: Always praise in public as it acts like tonic to the others and scold in private as the person scolded can always come out with his personal pride intact. However, a public bashing would be akin to stripping him naked. You are going to scar him for life. His self-esteem would be shattered.

Smile: As a quip put it, nothing in the world looks bad, if you put on - a smile. One needs 72 muscles to frown and only 21 to smile. So, lets us all smile and face the world. You would be surprised to note the difference in the treatment that you would receive from your colleagues when you smile.

“Standing up” for a lady: Most of the guys think that chivalry is dead and gone but ask any lady and she would wax eloquently about how well she was treated by so and so. To put it in simple words LIKE A LADY. It irritates one to no end to see many a strapping young man callously sitting in his side of the car while the lady struggles to get in. It is considered to be very bad mannered. Same is the case if you receive any refreshment from a lady in a sitting down posture. One is supposed to get up and greet the lady.

“Standing up” in business: A friend in sweets business had remarked, “one of the prerequisite in our business is the ability to stand for many hours without sitting. Not for me the type of sales people who sit on high stools and take orders”