The Human Touch

A few days back, I was reading an article about the reason behind the success of Apple stores. One of the reasons pointed out by the man behind the retail operations of the company, Ron Johnson, was that the “staff isn’t focused on selling stuff, it’s focused on building relationships…

What Apple stores offer, one can get in other stores as well as the online ones with better deals/discounts. Yet Apple stores exist and are doing good business. The company is not into philanthropy, but the staff, it seems, have not been directed into selling things to customers whether they want it or not. Instead, they have been asked to help customers find products as per their requirement. The customers are not going to forced to buy anything by the salesman at the Apple to ensure sale for the company, claims Johnson. If this is true, then nothing can be greater than this. The salesman (at the store) would really be of some assistance, which is great.

Instead of spending time online doing personal research before making an electronic purchase, one can devote that time to accomplish something else, even if it’s jogging in the park. It would indeed be great if we can really trust an electronic company (I know some people will think of murdering me after reading me describing Apple as electronic company…but doing this to tease you 😛 ) and make a purchase.

Personally, I can’t verify the claim Johnson has made, but I can share with you what the human touch to an otherwise mechanized world can do.

In India, despite offering good interest rates, nationalized banks are not very popular because they are feared to be lacking smart, English speaking staff. And yes, the old generation is supposed to keep you waiting because they will not sacrifice their lunch or tea time to help the customer. I have had also listened to this sort of hearsay and avoided these government-owned banks.

Recently, I had to visit one the largest nationalized bank, State Bank of India, to get some work done. I had gone there with the presumption that an entire day is going to be spent. However, to my surprise, I had completed applying for credit card and opened a Fixed Deposit account in about 30 minutes time, which is about the same time limit for getting a pizza delivered. And within this time, they had told me about every details related to both these things. Very prompt service by a government bank, I must say.

And they didn’t stop there. According to my requirements, they told me about other services and products which will be useful. I did return to the bank to get other things done, about which I had read and been told but with the rider that the procedure and the waiting in queue will be very annoying. Had it not been for the helpful staff at the bank, I would have never got a huge part of my life sorted. Just like the (loyal) customers of Apple store, I would like to trade with a bank by paying an amount for maintaining a credit card (private banks don’t charge you) and by taking a little time out of my life to go to the bank to get things done in consultations with the ‘helpful’ staff.

These days, most of the banks advertise themselves as tech savvy, queue-free means to banking. But I would prefer a bank with helpful staff to guide me through products and services than dialling numerous passwords and codes to get a machine try to do the same (You can talk to the customer care executive, but it’s difficult to get through, especially at odd hours).

A human being can apply brain and will react as per my requirement. While dealing with a machine, I will have to customize my requirement as per the availability or programming.

The ‘helpful’ staff at the SBI has won one more loyal customer.

(You may check out this link for the Apple article
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/what_i_learned_building_the_ap.html)>

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About Amrita

Simple Human Being
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