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Monthly Archives:February 2016

Mr. Prime Minister, after DIPAM, next is HRD Ministry

The Finance Minister presented Union Budget 2016 today. Every year we hear finance minister and post that army of experts who analyse the budget. Then everything is back to normal, & we hope well new normal.

Earlier The Railway Minister presented his railway budget. I wonder why no Power Budget, Why no Infra Budget, Why no IT & Telecom Budget. Anyway, we are happy with our legacy. Though The FM, today announced one important departure from legacy i.e. planned and non-planned expenditure. Now from the next year the budget expenditure will not be classified as planned and non-planned expenditure.


We need one more departure from the legacy. We need our HRD Minister to present her, not budget per se, but an annual action plan for the 125 billion people they are mandated to DEVELOP – (D in HRD).

The Minister of Human resource Mrs. Smriti Irani is in the news. She is even facing privilege motion in the parliament for some of the contents of her bombastic attack on opposition parties few days back.

Be that as it may if one visits the ministry website one can make out the purpose of the ministry if only education. This is not HRD Minister, but Education Ministry. Objectives stated on the website are:

The main objectives of the Ministry would be:

  • Formulating the National Policy on Education and to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit
  • Planned development, including expanding access and improving quality of the educational institutions throughout the country, including in the regions where people do not have easy access to education.
  • Paying special attention to disadvantaged groups like the poor, females and the minorities
  • Provide financial help in the form of scholarships, loan subsidy, etc to deserving students from deprived sections of the society.
  • Encouraging international cooperation in the field of education, including working closely with the UNESCO and foreign governments as well as Universities, to enhance the educational opportunities in the country.

After going through the objectives we realise the word HRD is used in a very limited purpose and hence the focus of the ministry is also very limited. Like the FM rechristened the Disinterment Ministry as Department of Investments and Public Asset Management, (DIPAM), we also need renaming of HRD Ministry. Ministry should be known as Ministry of Happiness.

With this expanded scope ministry can expand the objectives and its influence.

One of the aspects of happiness is education, but happiness also entails happy workplace, happy families, happy rural and urban population, and happy people across the religion, caste and communities.

Happiness entails education, wealth, health, emotional balance, religious practices, and peace of mind and including  ease of doing business.

India ranks 117 in World Happiness Index out of 158 countries.

Productivity of HAPPY employees is more by 12 % and unhappy people are less productive by 10%. If we focus on the happiness we can improve productivity of HR by 23%. Now this cannot be done by education alone.

When happiness is a state of mind, the overall state of mind should be the focus of HRD and not mere formal education. When we are obsessively focused on economic growth, but in the process if we are developing unhappy society, we will become like a rich family where money is in abundance but peace of mind is missing.

Economic prosperity should go hand in hand with the happiness of the population and not at the cost of happiness.

Venezuela has a Ministry of Happiness set up in 2013, one of the rich countries of the world, the UAE has very recently announced setting of Ministry of Happiness. Bhutan measures – Gross National Happiness of its population.

Happiness Bhutan

When we are becoming a society of unhappy workforce, intolerant and angry population, we need urgent action and intervention from the Govt. We need an expansion of the scope of the HRD ministry and making HAPPINESS of HR as a goal and not restricted goal of education alone.

If we achieve HAPPINESS of our population, we will achieve everything that is there to be achieved. We can’t say same about the Economic Growth.

In a pursuit of spreading happiness, I am releasing my new fiction, The Fifth Idiot, later this week. Happy to state, last week the book has received blurb from Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OYO Rooms.

Sunil Gandhi

Duryodhana’s HR blunder & Google’s HR Excellence

Google is the best company to work for. Since 2007, the company is at the top of the chart. The company employs around 57000 people. It is said that company receives 20000 resume per week. Ethisphere does survey of most ethical companies in the world. Google is very much there in 2015 list of 132 honorees named spanning 21 countries and five continents and representing over 50 industries. The company is 2nd in the list of most admired companies in the world after Apple. The company is the most valued company on the earth @ US $547 billion.

What this data indicates?

The best place to work, best ethical practice, attracts best of the talents, and best of the talents can make the company most valuable. These linkages are important to observe.

Yet most companies are not following the leader in their people & ethical policies. When the war is of talent, companies are battling with quarter to quarter pressures and myopic business policies. It is the people who can win or lose the war. People are the clear differentiation for companies that are successful.

In Mahabharata, Duryodhana chose Krishna’s brigade over Krishna. This was his biggest blunder. Imagine had he choose Krishna. We all know the role Krishna (Talent) played in Kurukshetra for Pandavas. One competent leader is better than 100 incompetent people.

But the issue is how to attract the best talent.

Why do employees think Google is the best place to work?

In the article at Inc.com, 5 Reasons Googlers Think It’s the Best Place to Work,  cites following reasons.

1. Work that matters

2. Benefits for families

3. “Genius” co-workers

4. Smart perks

5. Unparalleled career opportunities

Salary, of course important but is nowhere in sight yet. The kind of work the company offers, how the company treats their employees and family matter more than money. Googlers think management is ethical and honest in their business practices. Working for an honest company is a matter of pride.

A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.

While another survey by Gallup found; only 13% of employees are engaged at work, meaning the vast majority of working adults doesn’t enjoy their work.

We can understand what needs to be done to enhance the productivity of our existing workforce. Happy people policy can enhance employee productivity by a whopping 23%.

Yet, as the Gallup survey suggests most companies are not focussing on employee happiness. Most employees are unhappy.

Imagine employees spend most part of their active life working for employers. Therefore, most employees most part of active life they are not happy. Imagine a society we have become.

It is important to know, 18 Harsh Truths About Corporate Life Nobody Will Ever Tell You, a life in a corporate world where 87% of the employees are not engaged and therefore not happy.

It is said that customer experience is the next competitive battlefield, but the first step to enhance customer experience is to enhance the employee experience. You don’t win customers when you haven’t won your employees first.

Human Resource team’s JD & KRA must change. They must focus on talent acquisition and talent will come to do meaningful work in a happy work atmosphere.

Google has shown us that route to shareholders happiness is through happy employees, happy customers, and ethical practices i.e. happy society.

Alexander Kjerulf is an expert on ‘Happiness at work” and he calls himself Te Chief Happiness Officer. He  writes,

Happy employees are healthier and more productive and happy companies make more money.”

Coming up soon my fiction ebook titled – The Fifth Idiot.


Book Cover

Views of some of the beta readers:

  • I must start by saying that it was interesting going through the book. Starting more as a fiction, it adopts overtones of non-fiction (management category) and then ends on a dramatic note. Personally, I liked the roller-coaster and hope that majority too would.
  • Nice read. The twist was nice in the end…
  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading your draft review 🙂 I was desperate to know, what Nisha will do next.  The topic on which you have written is something, which is very sensitive and at the same time, today’s requirement. Every company should have a person like Nisha in their company.
  • Very Interesting and Inspiring… Particularly in this current time – It is a most Inspiring for New Generation …
  • I enjoyed the book.. XXXXX in the Board that’s some out of box thinking definitely… I wish we had Nisha like bosses.
Sunil Gandhi

Customer Experience – Drama in Action

Customer Experience is the new competitive battlefield. So companies are battling out in the field.  Fortunately (for customers), this battle can’t be won with fake ammunitions.

Recently I had my vehicle serviced at the authorised service center.

Hyundai’s service center uses NPS to gauge CX. So they ask customers to rate the services once it is done. NPS is a one question survey, so easy to rate. But along with that, they use 25 sub-questions on different parameters of the service. They want us to rate every small thing done with the intent to better CX.

However, every time I visited this service center, their executive asked me to rate only the NPS question and the rest of the questionnaire he would answer on my behalf. When I asked about those 25 questions on the list, he stated that the company wants to know about the quality of its various sub-services. But who should rate it? The customer? Or should the company executive rate his own services?

What was galling was that after every service, they would call me to rate their services again so as to confirm that what I have rated is authenticated. Not only that. They would advise me, “You will get a call from our HO and you should say the same thing.”

Once I rated their services below their expectations since the service executive rather than listening to my problems or checking the car, suggested that it could not be a problem with the car but more likely it was the driver’s mistake. Later, he discovered that the problem was indeed with the car.  However, finding the below par rating, they called me several times and the same executive even called to say “sorry’’. But they insisted that I change my rating, which I refused.

The height is their NS measurement style. They ask us to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 by asking:

1 to 8 is poor, 9 is very good and 10 is excellent.

Usually services are not POOR. But it cannot be either POOR or VERY GOOD or EXCELLENT. Poor is pathetic. It can be average, good or unsatisfactory.

So when they tell us 1 to 8 rating is POOR customer even if not satisfied would not like to rate it POOR they rate 9.

Their mission is accomplished. They want all customers to be PROMOTERS. No Detractors no Passives. Boss is happy. All is well.

The moot point when asking NPS rating is not to disclose what the number would mean.

Using a 0-10 scale: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?

(Where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is extremely likely)

Let the customer decide how they would like to rate.

This company is not particular about creating better CX, but very particular about the system of data collection and keeping the record straight. Had they been particular about better CX, they would have invested in training their people first. They would have made sure that the feedback forms are completed by the customers and not by service executives & NPS is implemented in its spirit not by twisting it the way they want.

They should have trained their executive not to advise customers before checking the vehicle. Perception has a huge impact on CX. As they say in their book ‘The Effortless Experience’,

” CX is 1/3rd about DO and 2/3rd about FEEL.”

They should also know that several calls to customers to get rating confirmations and reconfirmations are intrusive and irritate customers.

Another instance that is worth narrating, if only to recognise the ‘me-too’ mistake: Again, this is one of the largest companies in their field. I registered a service request on their website. I got a call and the conversation lasted for less than a minute. After the conversation, I was asked to rate it. Too much of showing off that we care’, can boomerang. Usually, call center conversations are recorded for quality purposes; at least that is what they tell us. And their executives can figure out how they have performed from the conversation.

Feedback at every small step is irrelevant and nonsensical. Customers are not there to give you feedback for every small act of yours. They are there to get their things done. Therefore, seek feedback only when what the customer asks for, is done. Don’t keep asking at every process. Keep observing. Keep listening on social media and keep learning. This is what smart companies do.

Better CX should be seen at each touch point. Mere data collection and feedback at every stage is not improving CX. It looks more like showing off without the necessary touch point level customer empathy and sensitivity.

Just like one can’t be physically fit through a superficial or excessive workout, similarly, for offering better CX, neither cosmetic change nor over-doing it, will help. Just focus on fulfilling the needs with Ease and Delight and avoid too many intrusions into the customer’s life unnecessary. Just APT is the key word. Differentiation has to be created, then and then the company will move up in the value chain to command a premium.

CX drama will not be of much help.

Another recent instance at CCD. They have a hanging board at the order counter:


They care more about what they LOVE rather than what customers LOVE. Self service is fine, but language matters. Customers want companies to love them. Do they care about what company loves?

Simple, Please Order Here is fine and the signboard in the store should be rather like:

We would love to make your experience pleasant and endeavour to do whatever it takes.


 ” CX is 1/3rd about DO and 2/3rd about FEEL.” 

Sunil Gandhi

Treating Angina (chest pain) with Volini !!

Customer Experience is extremely important, but alas; companies talk about it, but hardly do anything to improve the same.

Today, Snigdha Sengupta has written in the Mint newspaper about the Oyo Experience. Sadly, this is the scenario in most service sector companies. Be it a bank or insurance of hospitals or hotels. Just go and read reviews at mothshut.com or customer complaints.com Government is the major service providers to the citizen, but we citizen don’t expect much from the Govt as we have learnt to live with citizen apathy.

The BIG question is why companies fail miserably on customer experience aspects?

If you have an Angina (chest pain) due to a heart problem and you apply Move or Volini, does the pain goes away? It will not.

But why do we apply Move or Volini? Because reasons could be many:

1) No time and different priority (Most CXOs have different priorities than CX).

2) No knowledge that the Angina could be due to a heart problem  (Most CXOs have no clue about the reasons for CX Failure).

3) Think let me manage the present, will address the larger problem later (Most CXOs busy in managing daily fire fighting).

4) No knowledge that a heart attack can lead to death (Most CXOs not aware CX failure can severely damage the company performance and even it can go out of business).

5) Don’t know how to treat the Angina (Most CXOs not aware how to better CX).

6) I don’t care (Most CXOs neither cares for CX nor read customer reviews/feedback).

7) My strong brain will compensate for the heart shortfall (Most CXOs think other competency like brand persona / company reputation will take care of any shortfall in CX).

8) My goal to remain fit will take care of my all fitness problems. (Big mission statements are hardly executed).

9) The notion that we are too fit to suffer from heart problems. (Most CXOs believe they are big enough that they need not worry about CX).

10) Discussing about the Angina will solve the problem. (Most CXOs discuss a lot at the meeting about the CX but hardly any ground level action).

Even companies don’t realise failure of their CX as they don’t measure CX. They measure ROI and ROCE and IRR. They have no clue that all these three ratios are the result of better CX or to sustain better ratios CX is the key.

Most companies suffer from illusion and cannot connect the dots between better CX and its impact on financial performance and brand. Unless companies are on a mission mode to create better CX, they will continue to live with this illusion.

However, there are many companies who do not have any clue about how to deal with CX. How to improve CX and how to make it a top priority? My book on the subject The Bread is Moving can be a good beginning to know, learn and implement CX initiatives.

Sunil Gandhi