Education in Business from a Washing Machine Technician

Last week, my washing machine stopped working. Through Just Dial  I called a servicing company from Adyar. Two staff from the office were prompt in coming. They were prompter in diagnosing that the problem was with the panel board and it had to be either repaired or replaced with a new one, so it had to be taken to their office for proper testing, which they did.

My experience dealing with this company was far from happy, to put it mildly. They did not keep commitments and it was clear they were just interested in making some fast money with or without providing service. So, when I was told that the board had to be replaced with a new one costing Rs.4800, I decided to take it back.

Late in the evening, Mathan arranged another service provider, a young man just starting on his business, to look at the machine. He came home around 7 pm. He fixed the board on the panel and the machine whirred to life. He ran the machine for full fifteen minutes and even attended to some other minor problems. At the end, he told me his service charge was Rs.300. I gave him Rs.500 because I was so very relieved and happy with the service I received. The machine is working very well now.

I was furious with the shabby way I was treated by the company that first handled the service issue and I was bent on taking revenge with a stinging review in Just Dial. Then I told myself that I do not have the right to harm the business interest of any company and so desisted from doing what I was tempted to do.

Now, 5 days later, the heat of the experience has subsided and revenge is far from my mind. It is repugnant to be trigger-happy on a keyboard at others’ expense just because I can write. At another level, I think I owe it to the people of Chennai to tell them about my experience through Just Dial so that they do not suffer at the hand of an unscrupulous service provider.

I think I will also write in my company blog, about the wonderful experience I had with the young man who finally solved the problem with the washing machine.

While on the topic of reviews, on October 31, I had a mail from Trip Advisor pertaining to my review of St.Mark’s Hotel. The message was, “In only 7 days, your review has had 326 readers. Travelers really love your latest review.”

I do not want to dwell on the merit of my review. The point is that I was very happy with my experience during my brief stay at the hotel and the review was an expression of my happiness and gratitude. Of course, I had not bargained for being told that 326 people would read the review in only a week.

This mail tells me a few things.

One, I am a broadcaster and part of the new media in this age. Everyone else too, is. The impact one creates depends on the platform and the use of what is communicated to the world.

Two, excellence is recognized and in most cases, the news is spread by those who have been touched by it.

Three, there is a possibility some people might choose to stay in St.Mark’s Hotel, influenced by my review. The impact of small gestures like writing a review can be significant. I have the power to spread the good word and the beauty is, it does not cost a lot.

Four, entrepreneurs like me will do well to create excellence in the work we do instead of merely splurging money on advertising and promotions.

In a post titled What is wrong with your website?, Seth Godin says products and services gain traction because of  “The viral effects, the upside of remarkable products and services, the horizontal movement of ideas, from person to person, not from you to the market.”

I couldn’t agree with Seth Godin more on the issue of bombarding the market with promotions, particularly online. We have burned our hands with a number of online promotions. I listened to the sweet promises from executives and lost precious money in the process about nine months back. Service Square did not get a rupee in return. was the victor and Service Square the loser. The sad part was, no one from the company was willing to listen to my woes. So was the case with, though I was careful to gingerly invest only around Rs.5000 in this case. And, for a company like ours that has so many needs, these amounts are large.

Companies that have all the best technologies in the world and no heart to listen to their customers, will probably rue the fact that they got their priorities all tangled.

Behemoth organizations devoid of values built into their fabric and growing too fast do not have the means to be nimble in their response to the needs of the market.

The trick is to be fleet footed like the young man who solved the washing machine problem honestly and promptly.

How can Service Square grow and at the same time, stay nimble and alive to the needs of the market?

Staying rooted to our values is very important.

Providing excellence in everything we do to customers is an absolute must.

Listening to customers every time after they have experienced our service is critical.

Focusing on the priorities in business and shedding distractions through organized abandonment as Peter Drucker says, is another requirement we cannot afford to overlook.

Being with our team and knowing their needs is essential and the way to go.

And then, to feel the excitement and gratitude for the rustle of the big rupee notes that come our way for the great work we do. As we value ourselves and our work, we make sure we get our dues in full and ensure it is not frittered away on fringe activities.

Above all, it falls of me to have my fingers on all these – to feel the pulse of the important factors governing our business.

I am responsible to be the rain maker.

Leave a Comment