Apologies from a CEO

(Photo from stockxpert)
Thanks to global sentiments & a mega local IPO, the Indian stock markets witnessed choppy times over the last few days (it still continues in the same vein for now). The market swung crazily between new highs & lows. Accordingly, investors had a hectic time on the floor.
Here is an example of the cheif executive of an online trading portal apologizing to its customers about loss & lack of its service during various points the last couple of weeks.
  • Who doesn’t falter!! But how many accept they falter!! This is the difference that an act like this highlights. Publicly accepting the short fall is the first step in one’s efforts to avoiding the same being repeated.
  • With this note, the CEO is setting a good example to his team – its oki to say sorry as long as there are genuine attempts to avoid repeats. This is also a public affirmation that the business values its customers.
-es (could’ve done better)
  • Going by my experince, many have had monetary losses of varying magnitude due to Sharekhan’s loss of service. Maybe Sharekhan should have explored material ways of compensating – even if it were to be a token act. Maybe a brokerage free day / hour / transaction, or a gift hamper, or a charge free service from the Sharekhan portfolio.
  • I would be delighted to see a Tarun Shah follow up mail a few weeks from now enquiring on levels of service. And Sharekhan should try & ensure there is a marked improvement in service during this period.

Have to say though that I am glad I am a Sharekhan customer. And glad to see a services organization raising the bar wrt customer focus in this space.

A lot more Indian services companies need to cover a lot of ground in this area – not because their service is bad, but more so because this segment intends to be world beaters.

Dear Customer,


The last few days took all of us off guard. To make things worse, a lot of you faced issues with our service levels. Some of the issues faced by customers were trading system downtime, customer service cell not responding, fund transfer not happening etc. We don’t want to offer any excuses on why this happened as there can be no justification for the hardship you have undergone.


We apologize for the inconvenience caused to all of you. We will strive to make amendments in all the areas concerned to improve the service delivery to you. We exist because of you- our customers. It’s the confidence that you have placed in us that has resulted in us doing more than 4 lacs transactions per day and adding 45,000 new customers this month. We accept that we were found wanting on service delivery due to the sudden spurt in transactions/queries caused by this fall. We commit to improve upon the same in the days to come.


Warm Regards,
Tarun Shah

Exceed expectations?

If this questions was asked to me, I would usually respond affirmatively. Especially in the context of customer service – I wouldn’t have thought there was an alternative!

You can imagine my surprise when my Google search responded with opinions that differed from mine. Here is a sampling –

  • One who always exceeds expectations is a liar. He lies either in intentionally low-balling the expectations, or in exceeding his promise. Or both.” –TrustedAdvisor
  • So many companies boast they “exceed expectations” or “go beyond expectations.” This is short-sighted for three reasons. First, customers are looking for companies to deliver exactly what they promise, not more, not less. Second, it sets up even greater grounds for dissatisfaction when companies fail to meet whatever promises they make. Finally, it is an unprofitable strategy. Customers vary in terms of profitability. Providing service above and beyond what a customer is worth in terms of profit does nothing but hurt the bottom line.” –FusionBrand (do read some of the comments too)

It is not difficult to imagine an organization starting with too low a bar specifically to exceed expectations.

But I personally believe in exceeding expectations. I believe that by doing so, an organization not only manages to the deliver the much needed wow! factor (similar to Adrian Miller’s view in the article on customerTHINK), but also raises the bar for itself. How? The next time a wowed customer interacts with you, you cannot wow them the same way. You need to have something new up your sleeve.

So sensitize your customer facing teams to the concept of exceeding expectations & how it can be delivered through non-earth-shattering means, and let them use their own creativity to find ways of doing so. If this becomes a part of your culture – you would’ve done a lot of good to your customer centricity journey.

Bose delivers customer delight

Just came across this post on the Fast Company blog about how Bose is delighting their customers individually one after the other w/o the hype & hoopla around product recalls.

My thoughts on this incident –
  • Anyone rooting for companies to be more customer focused should be spreading the word about such positive actions taken by any company.
  • What Bose has done here is to introduce an excitement factor (from Prof Kano’s Customer Satisfaction Model) into their customers experince. They proactively took reinforcing action that most customers wouldn’t have expected. Any organization focused on their customer initiatives ought to be treating product shortfalls as opportunities to try the excitement factor & thus increase loyalty.
  • Bose not only replaced free of cost the product short coming, but have also promised additional goodies to make up for the initial pain. Now how many companies that we regularly buy from would do this!! Good gesture – but they have to deliver on their promise. If they don’t, this would be a good example of someone digging their own grave.
Also check an earlier post with more information on the Kano Model.

Ways to delight your customers

For all your cricket lovers there, I don’t have to explain how exasperating it is to have the match being interrupted by ads – either immediately after an over or when a wicket falls. The exasperation is a amplied multifold in the 20 over version of the game.

And for all the verbal support that the ESPN Star commentators provide against such a behavior of the channels, I felt they this channel too sold out to the advertisers during the ongoing T20 world cup. Whoever is deciding on when the ads come on is so trigger happy ….
But the channel did come out with a master stroke recently. The second semi-final between Australia & India was a true humdinger ….being decided in the very last balls of the game. Every single moment was worth grabbing on to. And in this situation, the channel decided to skip (I hope this was a conscious decision) ads between the 19th & 20th over of the Australian innings. And even after the win, they continued showing the joyous celebrations on the field off it without showing the ads. ESPN-Star managed to delight me with this.
  • They knew exactly what their customer base values the most.
  • And they decided to positively affect their customer’s experince when it mattered the most.