Customer Experience Lessons from my all-time favorite Street Vendor

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If you are living in South India especially in Tamilnadu, you will be able to identify this item below that brings instant joy to our taste buds.

Kaalaan

Mushroom masala aka “Kaalaan”

1. Greet, Smile and Say the Name

I used to frequent this shop since I was in school. I have reached this shop using three different vehicles so far – bicycle, bike, and car but his response has always been the same.

The first words I hear ” Sundarrrr ”

We have all read stories on how showroom managers or car dealers judge you by your attire, the car you drive and more when you walk in. But this man treats a school kid, college guy, and an office-goer the same way.

I take my friends along to introduce them to this place and they are often pleasantly surprised about how he welcomes me.

2. Engage in Conversations

While the dish is being prepared, he is not only focused on the cooking but also engages with the customers asking about their kids and siblings and why they haven’t brought them along.

There have been instances where he has introduced me to random people saying that I have been frequenting his place loyally for more than 10 years. They smile, say hi and start talking about our mutual friend who is busy cooking for us.

He also tells me about my friends from school and college who had visited him in the past week or month to have food at his place.

3. Provide Value to every visitor

There have been instances when I got late from work and reached the shop when he was already packing to go back home. But he still unpacks a bit, takes a poori, dips it in spicy syrup (paani) and hands it to me. When you walk up to his wagon, he always gives you something irrespective of whether you are paying or not.

I have seen people refusing the free poori but he insists and asks them to eat and give feedback on how it is. If they like it, they will be ordering that when they come the next time.

For those outside India, this is how Poori looks

panipuri

4. Be Honest with your loyal customers when you commit a mistake

Whenever you commit a mistake and you understand that you have disappointed a loyal customer, always confide in them on why you did what you did.

Let’s take an example:

I order something as a takeaway and he starts cooking. Then after a few minutes, a customer walks in and orders the same thing. Once the item is ready, I get ready and take the money to pay but I see him put it on a plate and hand it to the customer who walked in after I ordered the thing.

He looks at me and whispers ” That customer has walked a long distance after college and must be very hungry. Give me five minutes, I will get yours ready ”

He does not stop with that. He bribes me with a pani-puri and I end up smiling. And he adds a lot of freebies than usual in the takeaway pack and gives it to me with a smile.

5. Understanding and acting on Customer Data

I was a big fan of one of his recipes which had egg in it. When I was in school, I used to have that item (” Egg Mushroom Masala “) at least once in a week.

After a couple of years, he changed his location to a residential neighborhood. He quickly realized he was losing out on a lot of footfall because he had eggs in his wagon and most of the residents in that area do not consume egg.

He instantly removed the item from the menu and quickly everyone was comfortable in buying food from him. Though I mention occasionally about how much I miss that particular one, I am happy he earned a truckload of new customers in that locality.

Summary

No formal MBA or training, not an avid reader of sales and marketing self-help books but this person is a master in keeping his customers happy.

Customer Experience Lessons from Streetfood vendor

The Genius and my favorite street food vendor Pandiyan 🙂

There is so much to learn from the people we meet every day.

 

 

 

 

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Brands that piggybacked on Baahubali – The Conclusion

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One of the most important aspects for the success of a marketing campaign is the timing. Your message, your execution, and the product contribute to the success of the campaign but perfect timing of the campaign can propel the success to a different level altogether.

The whole of India was awaiting the final part of Baahubali movie and it is a no-brainer for brands to associate with the magnum opus. Let me take you through some of the campaigns I liked, this Baahubali season.

  1. Pothys  

 

 

This ad tops my list and they perfected the timing with the release of the movie. The world was waiting to know the answer to a question

” Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali? ”

So the character of Kattappa had a lot of attention and eyeballs. Casting Ramya Krishnan almost retaining the same hairstyle and makeup alongside Sathyaraj is the master move here. This lead to a lot of viral articles on the lines of ” Did you just see Kattappa romancing with Ramya Krishnan ”

Pothys has cast Sathyaraj in their previous ads for Madurai launch here and Coimbatore launch here in the royal set and storyline but casting Ramya Krishnan made all the difference.

A simple google search ” Kattappa and Ramya Krishnan ” gives us the following results.

And the icing on the cake was ” This was the first ad after the movie breaks for the interval in most of the theaters”. That means it has got the maximum eyeballs and the people who haven’t seen the ad earlier will watch this and then proceed to buy popcorn.

Pothys ad featuring Ulaganayagan Kamal Haasan uploaded from his official channel – 102,000 views

Pothys ad featuring Sathyaraj and Ramya Krishnan – 1.252,569 views

Result: Massive reach for the advertisement through word of mouth, internet click-bait articles and memes.

2. Britannia

 

The thumbnail arouses the interest to watch the video. For the folks in Tamilnadu, there was a different ad used by Britannia for the product Milk Bikis which stuck to the proven template of meeting the hero of the movie as a reward for the contest.

3. Kishkinta

 

A little late to the party but one of the best spoof ads in the recent times. Though plot of the ad is inspired majorly from the first part of Baahubali, it does not deter the reach by any means. Its encouraging to note that brands are thinking beyond celebrities and trusting the new age Youtube stars to pull off an entertaining video. Great stuff from Mirror Myth.

4. Paytm

It is not everyday you see a leading app like Paytm changing an icon in its mobile app dedicated to a movie.

 

It may be a small change in the app but the customers feel their expectations are understood and it puts a smile. Paytm also ran a contest – For the customers who book and watch Baahubali – The Beginning (which was re-released and was running to packed houses just before the release of the sequel), there was a 100% cashback for the latest movie when they book the tickets.

5) Nestle Munch

Nestle Munch has come firing on all cylinders and everything from the packaging, contests, stickers, mobile app, consumer promotions were checked out. You can check out a detailed a video about the same below.

 

6. Mahindra TUV300

Mahindra TUV300 stuck to the basics with an ad and a contest to win tickets to the epic movie. The forts, the deserts and the feel of the ad must be intentionally done to remind you of the movie and make you participate in the contest to win tickets.

And our all time favorite Amul did not miss out on the opportunity either.

 

 

This goes on to prove that when the timing for the campaign is right, the organic reach of the marketing message will be many folds higher than normal. Please let me know if I have missed out on any interesting campaigns around Baahubali 2.

P.S: This blogpost is also timed perfectly 🙂

How to Sell without Selling?

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Modern mankind can smell a sales pitch from miles away. Every person in the world sells something to someone at some point in time.

Whether it’s a little boy who is convincing his dad to buy him ice cream in return for finishing the homework on time or one of your friends who talks you all into cycling to a far off lemonade stand instead of the one nearby just for the quantity served, a sale has happened in both the cases.

Thanks to telecallers who promise something on the call and deliver something else to customers after taking their money, the word “Sales” has clearly lost its trust. So whenever you meet a sales person, you are under the impression that he/she is just there to take your money.

The solution to this perennial problem is not rocket science. It is to put value first before money. That’s the reason why all the leading SaaS startups give you a free trial before they ask for a penny. Not just Startups, even LinkedIn offers the taste of a premium account or a Learning feature free for a month so that you experience it and then take a decision on whether your life or business is better off without it.

This will work like a dream for product companies but for services, providing value first almost means putting work first before getting paid which will affect the business. Here are the recommended steps for service -based startups to sell without selling.

1. Study their Buying Patterns

Understanding customer’s buying patterns is smart work and yields more results. Most of the big firms finalize their vendors before / just after the start of the financial year. Creating a good first impression during that time can give you an edge over your competitors.

When your lead’s competitor has just spent a significant sum in a service similar to what you offer, then it’s the right time to show your lead what you are capable of.

If you are a small business owner, being available to take a message or chat 24/7 on your website is a major win. Use Jivochat or Zopim.

Right place at the right time scores big time.

2. Knowledge 

It is easy to sell when you are perceived as an expert in the domain by your target audience. This explains the surge in firms looking for speaking opportunities as avenues of Marketing to take their product/service to a bigger audience.

Create speaking opportunities amongst your circles. Whatever you learn running your business, put it together in the form of a presentation and share it with newbie entrepreneurs or fellow entrepreneurs. You will be surprised to find the amount of value that you would have added to their lives.

Sharing best practices with fellow entrepreneurs is often a two-way street. The more you give, the more you will get back. The secret is to give without expectations. Before you know it, there will be a big group of people who will recommend your services in their circle like they have worked with you for years.

Only good thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.

3. Patience

Patience is the most important skill that will take you places in your Sales journey. Most of us wait for the due date to pay our bills though we will have money to pay from the day the bill arrived. We are all wired that way. Whenever you pursue a lead, they will take their own sweet time to convert. But when they have a requirement and reach out to you, you will have time to only say yes.

 The moment you run out of patience, even your emails/text messages will reflect that you are rushing the customer into making a decision. Always remember there are many other leads whom you can focus on and eventually the older leads will come back to you.

Your sale is under construction and you can wait with a good attitude.

4. Build the Relationship

After you have exchanged pleasantries and got their interest, understand the exact pain points of the lead by engaging in a conversation. If you have the right service that solves it, then it’s time to check if the lead has the resources to pay for the product.

It’s not wise to ask anyone how much they earn but you can always ask them how much they are willing to pay to solve the problem at hand. If you can arrive at a number that works for you and the customer, the deal is through.

Asking the right questions to understand more will always be appreciated.

Customers love the straight shooters.

5. Be a trustworthy confidante/friend

Once you have brought in the business, check with the customer now and then as to how happy he/she is through the process.

If you can solve his / her problems by working with your team, you become their go-to-guy whenever his friends / his family have a similar requirement.

The way they refer you to their friends will change from “ I know a person who does this“ to “ I have a friend who is the right person for this“

It’s always easier to get more business from the same customer than acquiring a new customer.

People always buy from people.

People buy from people whom they can trust. It’s not only about the price every time. But it’s always about the people.

Think of your last few buying decisions and you will see it.

Good luck.

The Curious Case of also-rans

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The world has always been obsessed with the winners, outliers, front runners that it fails to gain wisdom from the others in the race who signed up not to lose but to make a difference.

Back when we were kids, we were used to hearing these words whenever we lost in a competition.

“Participation is most important. Winning or losing does not matter “

But somehow as we all grew up, the scales shifted only towards winning and participation did not matter anymore.

pexels-photo-131616

There are tons of insightful articles focussing on how one should appreciate the process and not the results in order to achieve more success in work and life. Yet we are keen on unraveling the purpose of everything from the winners.

Take the performance of the Indian contingent in the recently concluded Olympics Rio 2016 for example  – We were so proud that PV Sindhu finished with the Silver, Sakshi Malik won the bronze medal, Dipa Karmakar attempted the life-risking Produnova missing a medal by a whisker. Yes they are heroes of our country and they deserve every award or recognition that comes their way.

Not many know about Manish Rawat – Indian race walker who completed at the 13th position in the finals ahead of some of the best race walkers in the world – including 4 former world champions, 3 Asian champions, 2 European champions and even 2 Olympic medallists. He registered a final timing of 1:21:21, less than a minute behind the bronze medallist.

What’s more interesting here is that he was a waiter and the sole breadwinner of a family and yet he woke up and practiced race walking in the eerie hours of the morning.

manish-rawat

There were very few articles about this hero and I am sure when Manish Pandey plays in the next edition of IPL and scores a century or two, our mind will think of him first when we think of the name “Manish”

Most of the winners have stayed winners not because they beat the rest of the world but they beat their personal best every single time.

For so many upcoming startup founders, a round of funding is what it takes to be on the winning side. For the investors who did that, the next round is what it takes for them to be on the winning side and this goes on. On the other end, there are bootstrapped startups that are silently making waves and keeping their paying customers happy but their stories are not what you come across every other day.

” There are thousands of untold stories of unsung heroes in every game because a podium finish is what is keeping them away from inspiring the world “

As millennials, the more we unravel the stories of also-rans the more we can experiment, fail, do it all over again and enjoy the process.