Ever heard of this phrase: ‘customer is the king’? However, there seems to be variation in the letter and the spirit in the real world.

If one were to believe the discussions held in Pune at the Custommerce National Convention, it generally boils down to motivated employees delivering delight to the customers.

Hence, we will focus on a few battlefield strategies to motivate corporate employees to do the needful so as to deliver customer satisfaction.

“A soldier signs up for unlimited liability when he joins the armed forces (because he is ready to pay with life)… however, in the corporate world employees sign up for a limited liability,” Lt Gen (Retd) said Shamsher Singh Mehta, former Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industries.

The challenge for the corporate management is to bridge the gap between unlimited and limited liability, he said.

The leaders in the corporate world should lead by example, the way officers lead their men on the battlefield. They should delegate enough tasks to their executives and give them enough time to execute the task. “Delegating tasks does not mean absolving oneself of the responsibility,” he cautioned. “If you do not delegate enough then you will be bogged down yourself by the enormous amount of tasks and risk having to do it all by yourself.”

Leaders must leave the comfort of their chairs and go and see how things are with their customers. Leaders need to be bold about what they want to do, creating a bold culture within the organisation.

Bringing different people together

While admitting that bringing and motivating different people from various social backgrounds is a challenge, Vice Admiral (Retd) S.C.S. Bangara said that leaders must ensure that everyone in the team aligns to a particular common objective.

Mehta added, “In the armed forces men die for their unit because they are made to realise the stakes involved with a defeat are too costly.” Likewise, in boardrooms managers must create a culture, which inspires and goads the employees to give their best.

In vulnerable times

“After the 2008 crisis, some people spread rumours that ICICI Bank is going to go bankrupt and this led to customers making a beeline to branches to withdraw their money,” K. Ramkumar, Executive Director, ICICI Bank, said.

Ramkumar claimed that ICICI Bank executives in some places like Madurai, Tiruchi and other places went to the ATM counters and served the people who were waiting in the queue. “They offered them tea and coffee. In a couple of days customers came bank into the bank’s fold realising that the bank’s balance sheet was robust.”

He said that if employees are motivated and serve the customer in times of vulnerability, only then can one provide top-class customer service.

satyanarayan.iyer@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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