Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kissa BIAS ke bus ka : Customer service - unlimited

In the last almost 7 years in Bangalore, I always heard and experienced rude behavior from the local bus drivers. The introduction of the A/C Volvo buses on the city ‘road’scape has begun a new era in the customer delight sector of KSRTC. In fact they are going overboard with it.  That made my first trip in the BIAS-8 from E-City to my home quite hilarious.

Since I was taking the bus from the first time, I was not sure about where exactly the bus stop was. I looked up the website, asked few colleagues, but to no avail. I finally decided to just walk down the road that was part of the route and flag the bus down. I did and it stopped. I thanked the driver for making this unscheduled stop and asked where the nearest bus stop was. He smiled and said “no bus stop madam.. kidhar bhi haath dikhane ka hum rukega”. And he proved it. In the next stretch of 200m, the bus stopped no less than 5 times. I did wonder at that time whether the delight of the customer boarding the bus matched the frustration of the already boarded passengers.

After some time, the bus stopped to board a passenger – a young girl who was crying on her mother’s shoulders, perhaps going away for college, may be first time away from home. The amazing part was none of them flagged the bus. The driver stopped on his own accord judging by the amount of luggage that was piled up near them. They seemed quite oblivious to the presence of the bus or the bus conductor patiently waiting at the door for her to board, not to mention all the passengers. After 2 min, the conductor got down, picked up the girl’s luggage and carried it inside the bus. Again, he waited at the door. He coughed a bit after some time. Finally, the girl said good bye to her mother and walked in blowing her nose. He helped her to a seat and actually smiled at her. Not even a sign of frustration. Like a perfect airhostess on an airplane. Talk about customer service. Of course, we are accounting only for the customers that have not yet boarded.

The remaining 30 min of the journey was quite uneventful except for the constant grumblings of a co- passenger who should get an award for his optimism, having boarded the bus at 4:30 PM at E-City to catch a 6:30 PM flight. KSRTC website clearly says, BIAS-8 takes 2.5 hrs from E-City to airport. And when he boarded, the conductor, ever so polite, had informed him that there is no way he can reach in time. Still undeterred, he went and reminded the bus driver every 15 min that his flight was at 6:30 and if he could hurry. The driver, equally polite, would nod his head, though, needless to say, he continued his elite customer service for the customers about to board the bus.

Then came the clincher…. Just before my stop.

The bus stopped at the depth of an underpass. One person got down, no one boarded. The bus didn’t start. Again, the conductor was patiently waiting at the door. I tried to look around through my window to see if anyone was approaching the bus to board. No sign of anyone. 5 min. The bus didn’t move. I was trying to imagine why a bus would stop at such a place and why that guy got down here. Anyone getting down there would have to walk the entire stretch of the long underpass to reach any habitable place. It can not be shortcut to any place. I sensed everyone around me getting impatient. And then I saw. The guy who had left the bus emerged from a bush lining the wall of the underpass zipping his pants. He strolled in the bus and it started again. The bus had stopped for 10 min to allow a passenger to relieve himself!! The temperature in the bus rose by a few degrees due to the fury of the few who realized what had happened.

Then I was convinced that customer delight is really the top priority of BIAS buses. I left the bus at the next stop barely able to control my giggling. The last thing I heard was Mr. 6:30 PM flight grumbling to the driver.




Monday, July 6, 2009

The Vayu Vajra experience

I have been taking the company transport to work for the last 6 yrs. They use the regular BMTC buses on contract basis. Recently, I had a scary experience when during my 2nd month of pregnancy, the bus took a detour and trudged on bumpy non-road for 5 km with its age old non-existent suspension.

Hence, began my tryst with the Vayu Vajra buses. The route 8 is a direct bus to my home and starts right from my office campus. The rides have been quite interesting, quite a contrast to the sleepy trips by company transport. I will pen them down as and when I can and post here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cost cutting – all the time

I do not agree that cost cutting happens only when there is a slowdown or a recession. I see it happening all the time, at least in my company and in the least expected areas. Lets take an example. A pen. A pen?? Yes, a pen. Anyone would think that getting a pen should not be a ‘task’ in a globally evolved, pioneer in its field, privately owned and very much respected company like Abc (I am not sure if I can use the company name here, so just using abc. It’s a leading IT company in India with over a lakh employee across the world). I love Abc and respect it in many ways. But the way cost cutting is proceeding for something like a pen is hilarious to say the least.

When I joined Abc in 2002, I could walk into an unmanned store room in any building and just pick up multiple pens from an open shelf. Let me remind you that 2002 was a recession year. Couple of years later, Abc was doing brilliantly well and business was booming. I went to pick up a pen in the store room. The open shelves were now closed door locked cupboards. I had to wait till the attendant came and opened it. He allowed me to take just 1 pen and carefully recorded the event. Add another 2 years. Global economy was at its best, especially India and Abc was no exception. I went to pick up a pen in the store room. I asked the attendant for a pen. He looked at me and asked “where is your empty refill?” I was flabbergasted. He gave me a ‘which world you live in?’ look and explained that new pens are not being issued. They are issuing only refills if an employee produces an empty one!! I explained I was using a personal pen that I lost and I had a meeting and I needed a pen. After some persuasion, he gave me one. Well.. Well.. Now this was an innovative way of cost cutting in pens department. I thought this was the heights or rather the bottom. How much more difficult can they make issuing a pen anyway. I was wrong. They are brilliant. Lets come to the present. Economy is in a rather sorry state and we are facing a long recession. I went to pick up a pen in the store room (Again.. Phew! This never ends). I was told that it was not possible to get a pen this way. I will have to go back to my seat and send out an email to xyz person. Then wait for his reply, take the printout of the reply and go to his desk to pick up the pen during a fixed time slot the next day. Since the whole process is so cumbersome, it is easier to carry a personal pen instead of going pen hunting in the campus.

So folks.. I’ve seen 2 recessions and a boom period in the last 6 yrs. But getting a pen keeps getting difficult. :-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My foray into the writing world

I am not a writer. I neither have a writing style nor a penchant of expressing views in an interesting manner. All I have is ideas.  And when I try to pen them, my writing inevitably reflects the style of the book I read last. So if I happen to write on the same topic with the same ideas after a gap of 6 months, the content will be same but the expression vastly different. That is the reason I do not write often. But nowadays I am not reading much, so maybe I can write my own style. Today marks my foray into the writing world.