Partnering vs signing deals

From an Ericsson, Nokia or IBM’s perspective, this is a fantastic way to commercially partner with customers than just sign multi-million dollar deals.
With the $ spent coming under pressure due to macro economic considerations, this would be a interesting way for service providers to increase their customer base.


“In keeping with that underlying philosophy, Bharti Airtel in 2003 signed outsourcing contracts with telecom vendors Telefon AB LM Ericsson and Nokia Oyj as also computer and software service provider International Business Machines Corp., or IBM.

The contracts, which transferred the costs of phone and computer networks to these firms, focused on cutting down costs while at the same time throwing in incentives for better utilization of the infrastructure.Ericsson and Nokia would get a base payment that would be linked to the voice traffic carried by the base stations and exchanges which are the core of a phone network, and would be a paid a pay-per-use incremental charge on that. “This way, there was both an incentive to perform better and a disincentive (that helps) to keep costs down,” chairman Mittal told Mint last year, reviewing the outsourcing deal for Mint. Besides, he had said, “there was no way we would have been able to add 20,000 towers a year (in fiscal 2007) if (we) were doing it ourself”.

An almost similar deal was forged with IBM, which received payments as a percentage of Bharti Airtel’s revenues. The arrangement, according to insiders, has sparkled for IBM — netting it revenues of some $2 billion to date. “Bharti is the most convincing case study (Sam Palmisano) can present to the world,” Mittal said earlier last year, referring to IBM’s chief executive. The vendor has since signed similar deals with India’s Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone Essar.”


BW Customer Service Champs

Business Week has recently released its annual list of customer service champions.

Some of my notes & observations –
  • The list is dominated by car manufacturers & hotels.
  • When anyone mentions car rentals – Hertz is the first name that comes to most people’s minds. But Enterprise seems to be ahead in quite a few lists – including this one.
  • Some adopted tips & tricks – 24 hour service chat on the web; freebies – especially car servicing; happy employees leading to superior service; focus on customer’s overall experience; involvement of the top execs; etc.

Internal Customer Centricity

An internal customer is “anyone you count on or rely upon to complete a task or a function or to provide you with information so that you can get your job done…and anyone who counts on you to complete a task or function or to provide them with information so that they can get their job done.

–Rosenberger, 1998

The best place to start with a customer centricity strategy is in your own backyard. Below is a sampling of some reasons for the above –

  • A way to get people to look out beyond the ends of their noses and recognize that they are part of a larger work process
  • Can dramatically improve the odds that the process’s ultimate output will hit the mark
  • Helps bring organizational focus on partnerships as opposed to transactional exchanges
  • Internal customers are an integral part of the service delivery system that ultimately effects the external customer.
  • Outstanding internal customer service is simply good business. Excellent service to the external customer is dependent upon healthy internal customer service practices.
  • By helping other people within your organization, you enable it to succeed. Great internal customer service improves people’s morale, productivity, and external customer service, and ultimately makes your organization more financially secure. Giving great service to your internal customers means that people you work with can see, hear, and feel that they are valued. When employees value one another, the result is increased performance, which contributes to the success of the entire organization, and creates a positive and productive working environment.
  • While most companies aren’t in the habit of regarding their employees as customers, those seeking to instill a customer-centric culture should rethink their stance. Customer-centricity needs to come from the inside out.
  • Customer-centric organizations value and respect internal customers as much as external customers. If you’re not serving a customer, you’re serving someone who is.
  • Implementing an internal customer strategy provides a chance for the external customer facing teams to experience first hand great customer service. This also opens their minds to possibilities of implementing the same to external customer interactions.

Trusted Customer Relationships

Every once in a while, you come across content that does the job of putting across your point better than you yourself. Since I discovered David Maister’s web site, I have been finding a lot of content that I so easily relate to. And I will let his content do the talking.

Following are excerpts about DM’s views on building trusted customer
relationships –

  • Decide upfront on how you want to be marketing – a series of transactions (one night stands) or a relationship based long term engagement
  • DM brings in the comparison of an expert & advisor. Most people want to take charge (& be experts) rather than an advisor. Both works. Both are different. Just do not pretend to be what you are not!

A comparion between transactional & relation based engagement –

  • Scaleable, can be codified & disseminated easily across the organization vs Interpersonal skills of relationship building based …are difficult to spread
  • Appealing to those who find comfort the rational, logical or analytical vs Few are prepared for the psychological complexities involved
  • Thinking of other person as THEM vs US
  • You are OPPONENTS vs COLLABORATORS on the same side
  • All you are worried about is ..Short term benefits vs Long term benefits
  • There is lot of suspicion vs You are building trust
  • Goal is to make yourself look attractive vs understand the other party
  • Negotiate & bargain vs You give & you are helpful
  • Preserve options & avoid obligations vs You make commitments
  • Focus on here & now ..present vs Future
  • Develop detailed contracts vs Comfy with ambiguous understanding of future reciprocity
  • Main goal is to WIN vs PRESERVE RELATIONS..there are lots of benefits in the future
  • Style is impersonal & detached vs Personal, engaged & even intimate
  • Preparational & rehearsal of what you will say & do vs Adaptable & flexible to responses of other person
  • You listen to the other person vs You listen what they are feeling & why they are saying it
  • Feeling is tense & animated vs Relaxed & comfy
  • Interactive style is defensive & protective the bargain vs Open & inquisitive
  • Exaggeration, misrepresentation & even manufactured appearance is common & many times expected …not really lying, but not completely true either vs Complete integration is required ..exaggeration & misrepresentation is absolutely required