Solo trips are a mysterious tryst between ‘observation’ and ‘entrepreneurship’. As you roam around the nooks and corners of the city, you experience some subtle actions and reactions which depict entrepreneurial thinking. Here are a few tales from my recent solo trip:
“An hour to sunset, I strolled down a crowded street in Delhi that had street food vendors
serving mouth-watering delicacies. I walk to a crossroad, which on one side has some spooky
wooden houses. Facing these houses are some stalls and a spectacle shop in its inaugural
week. I enter the shop, converse with the attendant and try a few pairs of sunglasses. I finally
walk out with a new pair. Yeah. The attendant was too good to be just a salesperson.
A few paces from the shop and a girl walks up to me and compliments my sunglasses. I blush a
little and walk off to the bus stand on the opposite side of the road. While waiting at the stop, I
notice the same girl is talking to a man who has just stepped out of the shop and was wearing
peculiarly styled spectacles. A few minutes later, I notice she is not alone in this task. All of them
are talking to or maybe complimenting the visitors.”
That’s definitely a ‘Customer Service 101’.
“They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget how
you made them feel.”
- Maya Angelou
WHAT IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?
In simple terms, it’s the maker or breaker of the market for any startup as well as any established firm and of course, it’s not only limited to attending customers with a smile. Apple, Amazon, Uber, Ola; all these ‘startups’ are obsessed with their customers. Founders and CEOs of these companies are often heard mentioning a statement similar to: ‘...consumed tons of caffeine to serve my customers, but even today I strive to serve them the best.’, because every ‘wow’ from the customers' matter. And what efforts do they put in for a ‘wow’?
Apple is analogous to expensive gadgets, yet its empire is expanding day-by-day. One of the major driving force is the addictive customer experience that spells out the acronym A-P-P-L-E.
A - Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
P - Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs
P - Present a solution for the customer to take home today
L - Listen for and resolve issues or concerns
E - End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Quite impressive, right? Though such exclusive customer services aren’t just limited to companies and firms. There have been cases where private cab drivers serve hot chocolate, ‘zines and newspapers, which extends to high-speed internet and Netflix access.
“Later during the trip, I board a train to Chandigarh. Train travels are just to stare out the window
if you are traveling alone. Though this one is a bit different, maybe because of the talking and
chattering of this guy sitting next to me. An ordinary guy, seemingly clumsy, but commands an
incredible clarity in thoughts. Moreover, he owns a startup based in Delhi and thus travels to
Delhi every weekend after completing his weekly coursework. At this point, I’m completely
awestruck. He then starts to explain his idea. After the explanation, he says he hasn’t patented
his idea, and it’s accessible to everyone.”
I had no clue on how to react. And the only thought I could derive from his words was, “Is this guy trying to get inspired by Elon Musk’s Tesla? Maybe.”
BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
Idea. It takes a lot to ideate something original, so why should one share it or even speak about it in public? Of the many positives, one is getting feedback from potential customers at an early stage. That is an essential segment of market research because you need to know your target audience (and a market research cannot be entirely Google searches). And many times, these interactions shoot the anxiety meter of the entrepreneurs to the tipping point for they believe that their idea can be replicated. Well, that’s a myth. The execution of every idea has a personalized touch of the individuals working on it. For example, the e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon, or the book-a-cab apps like Uber and Ola; they have similar ideas but execution? It’s different. In fact, competitors catalyze the research in services and products, while monopoly has the tendency to suppress further development. Nevertheless, there exists a fine line that differentiates ‘sharing’ and ‘oversharing’; but it’s quite relative to every individual. People can always exercise their choice between ‘sharing’ and ‘oversharing’.
Such tales are subtle observations which usually go unnoticed. It could happen that the guy in the train sitting next to you has an exciting story to tell, or your favorite bookstore has a peculiar way of treating visitors. They all are in a queue to be part of your next story. So when are you joining me in the journey of observations? Or you will be traveling solo? :-P