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January 30, 2012

A True incident of Customer Service

Murthy and his family were very excited. It was their holy grail. An outing to an American fast food joint. Murthy is an old timer who came up in life a hard way. He started his career earning 1500/- rupees per month. He is quite careful about spending money. For him 500/- rupees is still 33% of his present salary (even though he earns many times that much presently).

Padma Murthy comes from the same stable as her husband. Cost conscious and a value for money, lady she feels that money saved is money earned. Pranav and Sahithi are their children. They are “India Now” generation. Their motto “Spend money now and worry later. After all 500/- rupees is only one note. Blow them and you will get more”. It was Sahithi’s and Pravav’s day out. They had performed very well in the examinations and they were promised an outing and they chose Pizza Nation.

Pizza Nation India is the Indian subsidiary of the world famous Pizza Nation USA. They are a very successful American Fast food company and they came to India with lots of hope and aspirations. Pizza Nation is very confident that they can replicate their American success story in India. They have read a lot about the big Indian Middle class and their craze for luxury products, especially American products. 

Murthy and family wanted to try out Pizza Nation outlet at road no 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. Banjara Hills is the poshest residential area in Hyderabad. It is the most happening place in Hyderabad and all the famous who and who of Hyderabad stay in Banjara hills. The entire locality is surrounded by high rise buildings, 5 star hotels, and big shopping malls. All food joints like MacDonald’s, Dominos, KFC and Pizza Nation have their outlets in Banjara Hills.

Walking up the steps of Pizza Nation Sahithi spotted the poster of Pizza Nation. It was a huge poster. It said “Tomato Cheese bites at 100/- rupees only”. The body copy said “22 cheese filled bits”. Sahithi was very excited. “We will have a gala time” she exclaimed. “Boy, boy what an outing”.

Murthy’s heart swelled in joy. “Why should I care about money? After all it is only 100/- rupees. It is value for money” he said to himself. Typical of all middle class families he was quick to justify what he considered as wasteful (sinful) expenditure.

Murthy checked out the menu. There was no mention of 100/- Rs cheese bites. The nearest was a 135/- rupee Tomato cheese bites. The bites were served twenty minutes later. Pranav blurted out “See mummy small Samosas” Padma looked on. Pranav was right! “The cheese bites were smaller than samosas and they cost a bomb” she said to herself. The measly mouthful was not enough. The children were clamoring for more. Murthy ordered a medium Margarita. The waiter was silent. He neither attempted up-scaling (super sizing) nor explained the deals or the deal of the day. Murthy felt cheated.

The meal was uneventful. The family ate silently and took some snaps. Murthy asked for the bill. A small UNICEF flier kept on the table caught Murthy’s attention. It was besieging customers to donate money for street children. Murthy ignored the appeal. “Bill please” Murthy hollered. The waiter brought the bill and very prominently holds the UNICEF flier. He pointedly asks “Sir Will you donate for UNICEF?” Murthy feels very upset. “Daddy why don’t you give some money” Sahithi pipes in.

The bill comes to 322/- rupees. Murthy is shocked. He as banking on sub 300/- rupees bill. The bill explained it all. Rs 135/- for the cheese bites and Rs 125/- for Margarita. That is a total of 260/- Rs. 26/- Rs was added as service charge. That took the bill to 286/- Rs. VAT (value added tax) took the bill to 322/- Rs. Murthy left a tip of 3/- rupees. “The bill was 325/- Rs but we ate only for 260/-.rupees. That is Rs 65/- rupees extra” Murthy muttered to himself.

Murthy complained to the cashier who was most casual about the entire thing. He said that service charge was extra. Murthy protested saying that service charge was not charged in the other fast food joints. The cashier did not have an answer. Murthy filled in the feedback form and outpoured his heart. But he knew it was a lost cause. His earlier experiences were that companies did not care. Having the customer once is enough. There is absolutely no need for the customer to return. The concept is akin to a leaking bucket placed below a running tap. Customers’ come experience the service and they exit. They will be replaced by new customers. That is the rule of the game. Murthy’s family was sullen as they walked out. Their evening was spoiled. They drove down to MacDonald and had ice-cream and burgers. They vowed never to return to Pizza Nation.

Later that night Murthy sat with his laptop. A quick search brought him to the web site of Pizza Nation. He sent out the following mail.

“Dear Sir,

Today we went to your Pizza Nation outlet in road no 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. We had the following experience.

First of all the advertisement outside the shop said Rs 100/- Rs cheese bites. But the menu said 135/- Rs. The portions were very small, smaller than small samosas. The advertisements claimed 22 pieces but only 16 pieces were served. The margarita medium was just okay (average!). The service was pathetic. The waiter was insisting that we pay some money for UNICEF!

The worst part was we were billed 10% extra as service charge. We stay at Banjara hills and we are surrounded by MacDonald, KFC, Dominos and Pizza Nation. The service delivery is in the same order. Sorry to say that Pizza Hut is right at the bottom in terms of service delivery. None of the other three charge service tax!

No wonder the place was almost deserted! We walked out and went to MacDonald and it was jam packed. Why cant Pizza Nation put the entire price including VAT and your so called service charge as part of the price? My cheese bites cost me 135+13.50+18.5 = 167 rupees. That means 67% more than advertised. Talk about marketing gimmicks!

I brought the same to the notice to the cashier Mr. Bhasker who was not bothered at all. He displayed take it or leave it attitude and we LEFT! Thanks Pizza Nation for the Experience. You can be assured that I will never return.

With regards

Murthy clicked and the mail went like a flash. Murthy gave a deep sign and switched the laptop and the entire experience off from his mind. As far as he was concerned the entire issue was an example of customer service delivered by world famous companies. “If world famous companies behave this way, how can one expect better things from Indian companies” He said to himself drifting off to sleep. “Is the customer really a king?”

Samanvay's Valedictory Address by Prof M.Anil Ramesh on 29th January 2012

About 16th Samanvay

I Prof M. Anil Ramesh Director- Academic and Chairman Steering committee of 16th Samanvay humbly stand before you to give you a small brief about Samanvay. I am very conscious of the fact that standing here and telling you about Samanvay is a singular honor and I am only a representative of a band of wonderful people – the 16th Samanvay team. These wonderful people include the Management, the administrators, the members of the academic councils, directors of SSIM, Principals of Degree college and the school, the faculty members, staff of the Siva Sivani group, our student volunteers who smilingly took and executed any work that was assigned to them, the wonderful sponsors who supported us and the media friend covering the event.

Samanvay the inter collegiate competition of Siva Sivani Institute of management is the mother of all events that are hosted by the Siva Sivani Group. All the events conducted at the Siva Sivani group start with the letter S. This unique way of naming all the events with the letter S is our own humble way of remembering the group’s name Siva Sivani and the illustration founder Sri Sampathy who has been the inspiration and the guiding light for all of us at the Siva Sivani group.

Samanvay is the meeting of the hearts of the students and the other constituent members of the Siva Sivani group. The students learn many aspects and nuance of management by putting theory into practice.

They learn to take pressure and responsibilities. They adapt to varying situations and learn to cope with the uncertainty and vagaries of the business environment. They learn to take disappointments in their stride and understood the true meaning of leadership and ability to work in groups. They also grasp the meaning of working with in their and others peoples strengths and weaknesses. They mature and become men and women who will be keeping the spirit, the flag and the brand of Siva Sivani group flying high.

The 16th Samanvay had 8 events. Five of the events were formal events. They are the Young Manager, the best among the management students who walks with an all expenses paid one week foreign trip sponsored by Global Talent consultants, Bangkok, Thailand. The other three formal events were Market Makers, Bulls and Bears, Start Up and Business Quiz.

Samanvay had three informal events namely Meet the Press, Floor Fusion and Sangeet Sangam.

The college bagging the most point from all the 8 events would be crowned the Sartaj of Samanvay. – The Kohinoor of 16th Samanvay. I am waiting with baited breath to know the identity of the college that will be walking away this evening with this year’s Sartaj of Samanvay.

In total 49 colleges from all over Andhra Pradesh participated in the 16th Samanvay. We had a roaring response for all the formal and informal events. We had 700 participants in 8 events.

At the end I would like to thank the management for nominating me to be the Chairman of this edition of Samanvay. I feel nostalgic and sad at the same time.  It was a honor to lead this year’s team of Samanvay. I take this opportunity to wish the next team of 17th Samanvay all the best and assure them of all support and guidance from the present team. Thanking one and all for the support that was extended to the 16th Samanvay team.  

January 20, 2012

It is official now - 100000 visitors for

Hi Readers

Today around 1700 hours IST our blog achieved a significant milestone. It reached the 100,000 visitors mark. Very exciting. It is time for celebration.

The journey has been very exciting. Thanks to technology and Google I am now getting many readers from all over the world. I get a massive boast every day by seeing the number of hits and the countries from where the readers have accessed my blog.
                  Top Page views – country wise (Table 1)

Total views    
(25th April 2011)        
Total views 
(20th Jan 2012)
United States of America
United Kingdom

The above table gives very interesting insights. 63 percent of the views are from India, USA and UK. The Top ten countries’ page views account for nearly 74 percent of total page views. The rest of the other countries views account for 26 percent of page views. (Pareto’s law in action!)

                                        Top Blog articles (Table 2)

Name of the Posting    
No of Views   as on 25th April 2011   
No of views as on 20th Jan 2012
Newspaper Advertisements
Marketing terms:  TGIF, Pink Slips, WYSIWYG, GIGO   
Presentation tips for Marketers
Best Marketing practices –USA – V – Universal studios
More marketing concepts
Cricket Fans – the fickle gods
Unethical advertising
Best Indian Sales promotions
Recruitment and selection of sales personnel (Part I)
Effective segmentation and positioning – Horlicks 


Kellogs -
Religion -

The top ten blog articles out of 363 blog articles account for 33 percent of all page views. Newspaper advertisements is a very popular article followed by Marketing terms:  TGIF, Pink Slips, WYSIWYG, GIGO, Best Marketing practices –USA – V – Universal studios, More marketing concepts, Best Indian Sales promotions       

Thank you readers for making my blog so successful. The next target is to crack the 200,000 page views. My prediction is that the next 100,000 page views will come in 8 months, September 2012. Simple math – 400 average views per day multiplied by 30 is 12000 views in a month and presto in 8 months we should been knocking the door of 200,000. With your active support I am sure that we can do it. We can make this blog better – together.

January 11, 2012

Who is the asli (real) Hero – Hero Motocorp or Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India?

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India hopes to introduce a low cost bike, possibly the cheapest, in India currently being manufactured in China.  It hopes to sell these 125 cc made in China bikes currently sold in some African markets at around Rs 30,000 (ex-showroom Delhi), almost Rs 4,000 lower than market leader Hero’s CD Dawn and about Rs 18,000 cheaper than the Super Splendor.

Tt remains to be seen how Chinese made bikes by Japanese company will be received by Indians. What a paradox – Japanese are taking the assistance of a Chinese company for an market ascendency in an Indian market. This is globalization for you.  
Recently, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India elbowed out TVS to grab third position in the two-wheeler market. Its next target Bajaj Auto the No 2 two-wheeler company in India.
Honda it is gunning for the budget conscious 100-125 cc bike market, a segment dominated by Hero (although mostly because of Honda’s technology due to the earlier partnership). Sales of 100 cc bikes account for nearly half the Indian motorcycle market.
Honda officials said they are investing more than Rs 1,000 crore over the next year to set up a new factory and increase production capacity to four million units in two years and 10 million units by 2020.
“Our dream is to become the number one motorcycle company in India,” said Keita Muramatsu, president and chief executive officer of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, He also added  “Right now, India contributes around 13 percent of our global sales and we want to increase this to 30 percent.”

As a customer I only hope that the customers get benefited from the slugfest. All said and done the latest developments in product design and research and development in two wheeler market are not reaching the Indian customers. It has been new wine in old bottle as far as new product launches have been concerned. Only cosmetic changes - like appearance and brand names have been attempted. Maestro looks like Activa. Whether it is Hero or Honda they need to remember one thing. Customer is the king. Give him the best and he will lavish you with love and he/she will become a fan and a patron for a life time. 

Hero Vs Honda - a mouth watering battle!

It has been a marriage made in the heaven. The marriage  between the mega corporation from Japan Honda and the world's leading maker of cycles Hero. It was a remarkable union. One that stood the test of time. The alliance started in the year 1984 and was intact for more than 25 years (ended in the year 2010.

In Indian Film Industry parlance it celebrated a silver jubilee. Remarkable considering the fact that many other Joint ventures including the once between TVS and Suzuki and Indian government and riage Suzuki motors ran into rough weather.  The resultant acrimonious argument between Suzuki and Indian government had to be settled in the court of law.

Sadly all good things have to end and so did the enormously successful Hero Honda alliance the Joint Venture that gave India the most popular bike – Hero Honda, the bike with the highest mileage “fill it shut it forget it”.

The friends have parted ways.  They are now Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. The sniping has started in right earnest. The first salvo was from Honda Motors who won the first battle with its hugely popular Activa the king of the variomatic scooter segment.

Not to be left behind Hero Moto Corporation had unveiled its latest variomatic scooter the Maestro which looks like a carbon copy of the Activa. Analysts are betting their bottom dollar on Maestro being priced at least 10,000/- rupees lower than Honda Activa. Hero is eyeing the variomatic scooter segment and is hungry and envious of the 3 months wait list of Honda Activa.  

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India has many quivers (arrows) in its bow. And the first off the bow is the announcement that Honda would introduce its own range of motorcycle bikes at a price lower than Hero Moto Corporation’s hugely popular bike – the Hero Dawn. The predatory nature of both the erstwhile partners is out in the open.

On 5th January 2012, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India unveiled the ‘Dream Yuga’, its first bike aimed at the highly lucrative mass market at the Auto Expo in Delhi.
The 110cc bike, set to be launched in May, was one of seven models (including variants) showcased during the expo. 

January 04, 2012

Will RE 60 do the trick for Bajaj?

Interestingly at the first look RE 60 is a disappointment. It does not have great looks but the pedigree of the group is impeccable. Ravi says that RE 60 it is for the three wheeler segment buyers. I am confused. Is Ravi saying that it is for three wheeler auto drivers? Or is it a replacement for the three wheeler? If so what about the costing? A three wheeler (LPG version) costs Rs 2,25,000/- in India. The rumors are that Bajaj RE 60 might cost between Rs 1,25,000/- and Rs 1,85,000/-. That would mean that RE 60 would be cheaper than the three wheeler auto rickshaw. That would make things very interesting. Would the existing three wheeler auto drivers shift their loyalty?

The second point is the car itself. Bajaj RE weighs in at 400 kgs and is powered by a 200 CC engine. Would it have controls like that of a three wheeler auto? With a top speed of 70 kms/hour would it be liked by the two wheeler segment who might think of it as a first car buy?

The one point where the RE 60 could score well is the killer mileage that is being promised – a whopping 45 Kms/litre. Even if it gives 35 to 40 Kms/litre on road it would be a great value for money for three wheeler auto drivers and for inflation affected middle and lower middle class Indians.

Finally if the looks are improved, If auto transmission is given (targeting the women, the elderly, the youth below 18 years) if  it were made nippier and if it is positioned correctly it might become a winner that would make the brand consultant of Bajaj - Mr. Jack Trout very proud. Otherwise it will have the same fate of TATA Nano. A confused positioning . What TATA Nano and Bajaj RE 60 needs is clear positioning. No one wants to buy a cheap car. But yes people might buy a no nonsense easy to operate and easy to drive, high mileage delivering car. Let raise a toast to Bajaj team. God speed and all the best. 

Hamara Bajaj

‘Hamara Bajaj’. Bajaj was the iconic product from the stables of the Bajaj group. So iconic that it was demanded as a part of dowry. There were serpentine queues and a seven year waiting time to get your own Bajaj. Nonresident Indian relatives and friends were badgered for the mandatory US $ 500 dollar remittance that will magically make you get a out of turn allotment of a Bajaj scooter. In short it epitomized everything that was Indian and it was an unbashingly an Indian product. Not very pretty but very sturdy.

So it was with a lump in the throat we watched the pulling the plug of the Bajaj scooter. With the Bajaj scooter went the romance of 3 or 4 entire generations of Indians. Bajaj scooter was the scooter on which you learned to drive. It on a Bajaj scooter you had your first accident!. And it was on a Bajaj that you dropped off or gave a lift to a pretty lass. The pulling of the plug was a very emotional event for the elder Bajaj, Rahul but the younger scion Ravi was quite point blank – it was curtains for the old war horse. In the same vein Ravi Bajaj also said that he was contemplating a complete dropping of the name Bajaj from the Bajaj product line. That is each and every product of Bajaj will be branded separately and they will not carry the name of Bajaj. For example Pulsar itself would become a brand name and it would be promoted as Bajaj Pulsar.

Thus it was great news when all the business newspapers reported today that Bajaj has bitten the bullet. Bajaj did the unthinkable, they stepped into the choppy, dog eat dog world of Indian car industry. The same car industry that has seen many a mighty fall flat on their faces. Bajaj wants to enter the ultra wafer thin margin based extreme low cost car segment dominated earlier by Maruti Suzuki and now by Tata Nano. 

January 03, 2012

Discounts, discounts and more discounts

4.  60%+40% off as discounts: This offer looks very attractive on the hoardings. It looks like 100% off. Every shoppers’ dream!. But the discount is not 100%. The second 40% is on the first 60%. That 24% extra. So the effective discount is 84% and not 100%. Similarly 30%+20% off is not 50%. Rather it is 36% discount.
5.  Cost to cost discount sale: A sentiment that buyers like very much. The advertisement proudly claims that the shop is offering the product at cost to cost basis. That means the shop is offering the product at a cost at which it is made available to the shop keeper himself. But logic says that it can’t be offered at cost basis. Even if no margin is taken the shop has to still take care of fixed expenditure like shop rent, salaries, electricity, water, interest payment and other expenses. At best the shop can offer a product at no margin basis but can’t offer it at a cost to cost basis.

6.      Export reject discount sale: Very popular in the vernacular (local language) media. The sob story of an advertisement details how a shipment was stopped at Karachi port or at Dubai port and how the consignment was returned to India. Most shoppers buy the story once. But to their surprise the same stunt is pulled many times. The shopper quickly realizes that export rejects are just a ploy to pull the gullible shoppers into the shop.

7.      Tie up sale discount: Here if one product is taken another product is offered at a discount. For example if shirts are taken for Rs1000/- rupees worth, on trousers worth Rs 1000/-, 50% discount will be offered. So the effective discount is 25%. Rs 500 on a total purchase of Rs 2000/-.

8.   Always on discount: Ploy of retailers of the likes of Coupons and Brand Factory. These shops are shoppers’ dreams come alive. These shops offer products always at a discount. The moot point is whether the customers believe that they would always get a discount or the discount becomes a part of the offering itself. A very difficult question to answer.