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The past few weeks of my constant sojourns to a hospital has sensitized me not only to the bitter truth’s of life but also to the significance of soft skills practice of the healthcare staff.

Surprisingly ; we all loose our hard gained and well preserved personality when we move to the other plane ( pass way ) . From a Mr. A / Ms.P we end being just ‘ bodies  to be taken care of .  When undergoing treatment as well the patient is barely aware at times of the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. In such cases the  relatives often receive soft skill training and react to most of the communication.

Being heavily invested in dealing with people ; the void created in Human Emotions seeing suffering pain and death so closely should not impact the levels of empathy expected by the healthcare staff . The empathy  needs to encapsulate the following key pointers for all the health care professionals:

Keep it cool !! – We all know that the environment healthcare professionals work in is  extremely stressful. It calls for efficient management of stress by keeping a positive mental attitude with soft skill training. When the stress gets to you ; undertake some of the techniques you picked up from the last stress management workshop. Remember sometimes it helps to just Take A Walk !!

Coach and Delegate – In one of the cases I observed off late , was a scenario when the sequential shifts got to one of junior staff and it started showing up in her handling of In-Patients. Her supervisor immediately took her away to a nearby seating area and the first thing I overheard him saying to the staff was; “You are doing a very good job !! “ with a further inputs on how to improve things thereon. Beautiful example of coaching. In this environment what also comes in handy is the delegation of work to ensure work distribution without increasing the patients and their families’ anguish.

A word for the doctors … in general –  The hospitals and clinics carry a plethora of emotions and the most prominent is that of HOPE !! While patients do not crib about the cold and mechanical way of the doctor pushing his stethoscope, their hurried ways of examination, impatient handing over of prescription and irritation at the sound of any query; a gentle smile and soft skill training can make a lot of difference. As mentioned earlier; do not let the HOPE be nipped in the bud.

Appreciate – From the housekeeping staff at the hospital to the Directors ; we would like to believe that everyone is doing their bit to make sure that the patient service is at it’s best. While the staff out there is not only struggling with stressful situations they also most of the time end up serving a very diverse patient base. The essentials of non-verbal communication with soft skill training comes in handy here. In the midst of all this a simple word of appreciating can go a long way !!

The patient service attitude and skills are paramount in the current times. Healthcare service providers should start designing process which revolve around Patient experience and satisfaction. To design and implement these processes and practices, the industry would require professionals who are not just technically strong but are sensitized towards the anguish of the patients and their ‘ near and dear’ ones.

Last few months of chatter about the e Commerce scenario in the country has had me baffled in many ways than one. The valuations , the work culture , the last mile delivery and the insane hiring in the early days and the recent layoffs.

The Global Context

From a more macro economic perspective , the protectionism which Mr. Trump once reeked of has not played out so well ( I am referring the China and the Mexico stories ) . Also , the silver lining is that the Calendar Year 2017 has seen not only the big engines firing but also emerging economies . However , global commerce and therefore investment in the Indian e Commerce sector will be a geo political risk with new leadership emerging across the globe.

The Turmoil

The early 2014’s witnessed billions of dollars being poured in the Indian e Commerce Ecosystem. Then came in the news of firms making substantial loses and investors becoming cautious and pushing the companies to strive for successful business models. Along with the declining investments in the sector , 2016 also brought along firing of employees . According to data from Traxcn around 300 start ups closed down in 2016 . The consolidation in the industry ( Myntra ; which was bought by Flipkart , acquired rival Jabong for $70 million. ) or the apparent termination of bloodbath has also had investors looking at other sectors .

The learnings from Off line Business:

The Cash Burn

The cash burn has to cease .

With only 1% of the Indian market being online there is an urge to grab a more potent market share . However , to reduce the cash burn and see some semblance of profits , the customer acquisition costs have to come down . Firms now need to embrace the ‘ earn and burn ‘ approach.

The Logistics Route :

As Mr. Deepak Parekh ( HDFC Ltd . ) pointed out in a recent address ; India delivers only about 2 million packages a day compared with an estimated 57 million in China and 35 million in US . Needless to say that the logistics , warehousing and the transport infra are the key pivots for the Indian e Commerce . Sprucing up core logistics has been the challenge and key focus area for offline organized retail in the country as well.

It is beyond the UX :

While any of the Indian e Commerce may oscillate towards offline and online medium of getting eyeballs ; what has to be comprehended is that in the current customer experience perspective even the last mile delivery counts , specifically from a customer experience point of view . At times the contentment associated with the speediest delivery can be offset by the rudest delivery boy . The UX and the CX in turn has to be more widely envisioned.

Discount Me Not :

Late 2016’s also saw the decrease in discounting and it’s effect on growth was anybody’s guess. For a business channel which has made inroads on discounting , movement to providing value to the customers for each of the transactions conducted on the interface ( mobile or web ) has to be made paramount.

Some of us do maintain that the Indian consumer e Commerce story got heated too much too soon ; however with a fresh the set of investments flowing and with a more strategic focus on posting profits we should be looking at clear skies very soon !!

Long back when I started off my first job in one of Kolkatta’s sleepy suburb in a textile manufacturing unit ; my friends , philosopher and guides were the co-workers and labourers of the factory. Though blue collared in work profile ; I learnt most of my “ The Art of Living “ kind of lessons from them.

One such person who was the head repairman ( ‘ mistry ‘ ) of the production department told me something very profound at the end of one of my evening shift’s.

‘Reflect what you did today and assimilate your thoughts !!’

Fifteen years down the line when I ‘ reflect ‘ upon what I was asked to reflect upon then , I immediately connect to the following :

“I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”

–Confucius, China’s most famous teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC

The notion of experiential education, or learning by doing, has a long history. Early on, outdoor educators embraced experiential education as a way of learning in the outdoors. Similarly, adventure education programs, which also take participants into the outdoors, use real-world experiences to achieve their learning goals. It was not until the 1970s that experiential education emerged as a recognized field of education, and in 1977 the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) was established (Hammerman, Hammerman, & Hammerman, 2001).

More recently, David Kolb has taken the gauntlet in support of experiential learning stating that learning is multi-dimensional process. Beginning from concrete experience, to observation and reflection, then to the formation of abstract concepts and generalizations, to testing implications of new concepts in new situations. Many others have taken this model and expanded on it or used it to explain their theories.

Source : http://www.simplypsychology.org

Although experiential education has come to mean simply “learning by doing” for some, educators utilizing this approach recognize both its distinguished historical and philosophical roots and the complexity of applying what appears to be so elementary.

Recently , Mr. Sonam Wangchuk has bagged the prestigious ‘ Rolex Awards ‘ for his “Ice Stupas” project and is one among the five winners of this year’s award. He maintains that if school drop outs and failures are headed to become million dollar enterprise leaders; there is a fault in our education system.

Maybe it is time to formalize the experiential education. When education is said to be experiential, it means that it is structured in a way that allows the learner to explore the phenomenon under study–to form a direct relationship with the subject matter–rather than merely reading about the phenomenon or encountering it indirectly. Experiential learning, then, requires that the learner play an active role in the experience and that the experience is followed by reflection as a method for processing, understanding, and making sense of it.

When applied to the corporate world (with the ‘training’ department being rechristened as the ‘learning’ department as the façade ) the learning on the whole has become more discovery and internal growth oriented.

While I personally can vouch for the efficacy of this model through various training programs which we have conducted across the country , what holds me awe-inspired is the learning which we can get from the so called blue collared personnel towards technical and life skills . Kudos to them !!

As a society we are moving towards shopping for fashion more than ever !! That is a lot of money being spent in the fashion industry, which means it is a very competitive and the same time a very fragmented industry. This also implies why ; amongst all , the fashion industry and specially the on-line fashion industry needs a non intrusive loyalty program & Read More …….

Voice of the Customer ( VOC ) has been one of the major methods of understanding changing consumer requirements . From short paper based surveys of the yesteryears to the current long digital forms the VOC data collection methodology has come of age.

We all know , understand and have somewhere been a party to not revealing our true thoughts to the retailer . For every customer who complains to a business, 26 other customers don’t voice their feelings, ( (Source : White House Office of Consumer Affairs ) That means you only hear from roughly 4% of all your dissatisfied customers Read More…..

There is Price and then there is Value for Money.

What we choose to price our products as a brand is conscious call keeping in line with the overall brand perception and brand self image.

Customers in India consciously or unconsciously judge pricing as part of their experiences with a brand Pricing both sets expectations for an experience and affects perceptions and recollections of that experience.

The implications are clear:

Take Control.

Customer experience professionals cannot leave pricing solely to finance, product management, marketing, or sales Read More……

TEA FLAVOURED ICED TEA FOR YOUR SALES FORCE

I recently happen to visit a popular Café seeking respite from the hot sun in the form of an Iced tea. They sure did had have Iced tea but ask them the flavor the staff went blank. To aid I mentioned the regulars ; Strawberry , Peach…. Pat came the reply ; “ Sir , we have Tea Flavored Iced Tea “

Paco Underhill writes in ‘Why we buy’ – “When service is poor, shoppers will find another store; bad service undoes good merchandise, prices and location almost every time”.

Now broadly three areas impact on a retail salesperson’s ability to provide exemplary customer service Read More……