Vidyarth Venkateswaran

I am among those many who are intrigued by how some organizations can seamlessly surpass expectations and deliver a great customer experience. I find it especially revealing when the concept is examined in the context of organizations with an array of seemingly every-day products or services. Let us consider the case of a simple Indian restaurant that I frequented with my wife when we spent a week in Bali.

In case you are wondering why we went searching for Indian food in another country (ask again), it was the only one open to our Airbnb when we landed up there at 10 pm. We were driving from the airport, hungry and really needed a decent meal. With clear guidance from the missus about avoiding fine dining given the time they take to bring what we might order, we were looking for something simple, preferably a cuisine that reminded us of home.

We stumbled upon this small Indian restaurant close to our Airbnb that was decently crowded. It also had a decent amount of space to park our car (which we later realized is a luxury in Bali). So, we went in and ordered Palak Paneer (cottage cheese in spinach gravy) and some Jeera Rice (cumin rice) each. Outright, it was delicious! The incident that followed is really what caught my eye.

After having the palak paneer and rice, we were still hungry. But, knowing another dish each would be too much, we decided to share something. We called on our waiter, a tall, dark guy perhaps in his mid-forties. He was wearing a pale white shirt, a pair of shorts, and a faded purple towel hung on his shoulder.

“Anything else, sir?” he asked

“What other North Indian dishes do you have?” my wife asked

As he started rattling off all possible combinations of paneer, followed by some chaat (savoury Indian snack), we stopped him at Chole Bhature. For the uninitiated, it is handpicked dough made of wheat flour rolled into a thin sheet and deep-fried to golden brown perfection served with a lip-smacking chickpea gravy with a pinch of coriander (CREDITS: A fine dining menu), or as a good friend of mine describes it in layman terms, it is a poori (an Indian flatbread) the size of an inflated airbagserved with chickpea curry and a dollop of butter on it.

Once we had decided, my wife and I agreed to order for a portion. but that we would eventually split it. The waiter nodded and went inside the kitchen.

After a few minutes, he came with the Chole Bhature that was already cut in half. He had informed the chef that we’re planning to share it and requested that the bhatura be cut in half before deep-frying it. As he wasserving it, he alluded to how his grandmother always used to emphasize that the root of all arguments between couples was an unhappy stomach, which is why he did not want to give it a chance. My wife and I were both surprised and delighted with the whole experience.

The waiter understood that it would be messy to tear a full bhatura in half. So, he told the chef to cut it in half and fry it to make our lives easy. I thought it was a great example of how to nail customer experience.

An article I read recently on Forbes spoke about a study conducted under the umbrella of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The study focused only on customers in the USA who participated in objective evaluations of the quality of goods and services purchased in America and produced by domestic and foreign firms with substantial US market shares. The results revealed a common thread in their “Claim to fame”. Here’s what I found:

  • Genuinely caring about customer outcomes makes a real difference. Remembering that all business is eventually a transaction between human beings is critical. Genuinely taking an interest in the customer’s pain points, goals, and objectives rather than focusing on the task/transaction make it real.
  • Recognizing that customer experience is not a trade-off. While firms are constantly dealing with real-world pressures of profitability and costs, the ones that believe positive customer experience is non-negotiable make their mark. They are able to inspire loyalty and almost build a fan base that tides them through thick and thin.
  • Investing in providing a positive employee experience is crucial. The famous words of Richard Branson about how happy employees make for a happy customer needs no references.

Case in Point – In Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, so much was said about the early years of Nike. The salesmen who worked in Nike stores maintained a personal relationship with every aspiring athlete — be it someone who is part of the university running team or a professional athlete. They knew every athlete’s requirement, their upcoming races, etc. Some even send postcards to the athletes to know about their race. This was one of the reasons for star athletes to endorse Nike when they were at the peak of their careers. Nike cared and the athletes reciprocated it when they become famous.

We at GAVS, are proud of the focus and emphasis we place on customer centricity as part of our culture at the firm. Our transition from being focused on being enablers of Delivery Excellence to enablers of Customer Success as we have grown from strength to strength isa testament to what the concept means to all of us as partners at the firm. This is seen in everything we do from how we host our customers and partners at our office to the accelerators and enablers we use as part of our Customer Success Management framework in solutioning and delivery. As a GAVSian who is relatively new to the system, I am happy to see such a refreshing approach to Customer Centricity.

About the Author:

Vidyarth is an Associate Vice President at GAVS with the Customer Success team at GAVS Technologies. An ex-Accenture Strategy client engagement manager with over 8 years of Strategy and Management Consulting experience across multiple industries, he has managed projects and client accounts across USA, Europe, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia. He has led numerous engagements enabling digital transformation, operating model definition and improvement, business process and IT architecture and Supply Chain transformation for clients. In his role at GAVS, Vidyarth is currently responsible for, and drives strategic interventions that are focused on transforming GAVS’ business practices to enable best-in-class IP and solution-delivery to our clients.