Customer Service – My Tweets

Don’t work to satisfy customers. Work knowing that it is your signature. It defines you and tells the world who you are.

Your image is not built by your ad agency but by how your customer’s experience your service and tell others, not you.
A complaining customer wants to deal with you. He’s not a problem. He’s an asset. Despite what you did he’s still interested. Others walk.
Your service is not defined by the best but by your customer’s worst experience. And even more by what you did thereafter. And that was?
Want to serve? Take the HEAT: Hear, Empathize, Accept, Take action. Customer’s perception is his reality. Your spiel is fluff. Forget it.
Let your customer’s say that you’re the best. Show that you care about excellence by demonstrating it in every Moment of Truth, every day.
A Moment of Truth is that moment when a customer or a potential customer comes into contact with any part of your business and has the opportunity to form an opinion. ~ Jan Carlson, CEO, Scandinavian Airlines (1980’s)
Successful businesses are those which monitor and control their Moments of Truth. Most don’t even know when they happen. Check yourself.
Moments of Truth are defined by what your least paid, trained and valued employees do. Where do you focus your resources and rewards?
Your best, most powerful unpaid ambassador is your customer. So you decide what you want him to say. Amazing how many ignore and abuse him.
The worst service is by businesses who actually believe their own self congratulatory ad spiel. The best simply focus on doing the job well.
Why doesn’t 3M call itself Most Inventive? Bombay Dabbawallas, Most Efficient? L. L. Bean, Most Courteous? Because their customers do.
How do you know what your customers are saying? By listening to them. What’re your process and metrics for that? Reality can be measured.
Since only 2% complain, a customer complaint is a fire alarm. Is that how you treat it? There’s a very real danger in ignoring fire alarms.
Don’t read success case studies. Read about failures. 10:1 of those. But nobody writes case studies of failures. So they happen over & over.
Reputation is not the result of doing something right once but of doing it again and again. That can happen only if you measure and monitor.
Success is not an accident. Neither is failure. Both are choices, but not always conscious. Choose wisely because you’ll pay for it, dearly.
Leave nothing to chance, least of all, success. Reality is measurable. Self deception is not. Ad spiel is good for the agency, not you.
Treat ad spiel as a challenge to live up to. Not as a medal of achievement. Not only have you not arrived, you haven’t even started
Opportunity cost is like the hole in the bottom. You can’t see it but that’s what sinks the ship. Is opportunity cost on your balance sheet?
Customer is pronounced by many Hindi speakers as Kasht-mar. That’s not English for Kasht-se-mar. But that’s how we treat customers, right?

Half the date

When you look at a tomb stone you see a date under the name which reads for example 5. 1. 1980 – 6. 1. 2014

Our life is the dash between these two dates. On how we live that dash will depend what happens after the second half of the date is written.
I was born on 4th Rabi ul Awwal, 1375 Hijri and so that is the first half of my date. And like you all, I am living the dash. Someday sooner or later, the second half of the date will be written.
What then will be said about the dash and how I lived it?
Today incidentally happens to be my 60thbirthday – 4th Rabi ul Awwal, 1435 Hijri.
I have been reflecting on my life and some of the questions I asked myself are:
  1. What did I achieve in 60 years?
  2. What more could I have achieved?
  3. We go when it is our time to go, not necessarily when we are ready to go – so what is my preparation for that time?
  4. What decisions did I take in my life which I am happy about and what did I learn from them?
  5. What decisions did I take which I regret and what did I learn from them?
  6. What opportunities did I have that I took advantage of and what did I learn from that?
  7. What opportunities did I miss and what did I learn from that?
  8. What opportunities did I create for myself and what did I learn from that?
  9. What did I invest in myself and what was the return?

So – that’s enough for now.
With salaams to you all


7 – Leadership Lessons from being a shepherd of sheep

Interestingly most of the Anbiya (Prophets) of Allah Y were shepherds of sheep. Esa (Jesus) u used the simile of the shepherd when he spoke of himself as the shepherd of men. There is much to be learnt in shepherding sheep. Here are some lessons in leadership that being a shepherd of sheep teaches us.

1.    Responsibility & Accountability: (Hadith: Kullukum rayin wa kullukum mas-oolayn ar raayi-a – All of you are shepherds and all of you will have to answer for those in your care). The shepherd has to report to a higher authority. The shepherd is responsible and can’t blame the sheep for getting lost or hurt. He can’t say, ‘What can I do, my sheep are stupid.’ No matter if the sheep are stupid or clever, the shepherd is responsible.

2.    Patience, Mercy, Compassion: Sheep have some qualities that other animals don’t have. Sheep take their time, they are slow, they run around, get easily distracted. They are weak and need more protection than other animals. They are more susceptible to threats than camels, horses or cattle. They have no concept of unity. They don’t come together to protect their young or the flock. They can’t be punished too harshly because they don’t have the strength to withstand severe punishment. So the shepherd has to be patient, merciful and compassionate with sheep otherwise they die. Camels are arrogant and so you have to meet the arrogance with strength and so the shepherds of camels tend to be tough and rude because that is how they keep camels in control. This is how the profession affects the individual. Doctors can’t write properly, they scribble. Teachers become very scholarly and pedantic. Mechanics have a personality different from farmers who deal with plants and the earth. Engineers, politicians, lawyers, policemen all have different personalities. So the profession is very important to consider so that you choose a profession that suits Islam and does not corrupt your Deen. Sahaba accepted all kinds of political/administrative positions but set the standard for those professions and did not succumb to the common illnesses of politics or administration. The shepherd has to be patient and bear with their people, no matter what they do. Musau was a shepherd for 10 years and so he had a lot of training to lead Bani Israel. So were many other prophets.

3.    Courage: The shepherd protects the flock so he has to be courageous. There are many threats all of which the shepherd must be aware of and know what to do about them. A shepherd has to be prepared to put himself in danger to save his flock because sheep can’t defend themselves, let alone defending the shepherd. Since not all threats are the same, the shepherd has to anticipate threats and be prepared for them. He has to be creative to think of solutions for new emerging threats before they become sources of grief. A flock of sheep is notoriously difficult to keep in control as sheep have a tendency to stray. So the shepherd must be alert all the time and must know his sheep intimately so that he will know when one is missing.

4.    Concern & Compassion: Sheep have to be fed. They won’t go and look for food on their own. If food is not provided, they will simply sit and die. So no matter what the weather conditions may be, the shepherd has to ensure that he takes them to the right grazing ground or has an alternate source of food and water for his sheep. The shepherd has to think of his sheep’s nutrition before he thinks of his own. So concern and compassion for the flock has to be uppermost in his mind. When sheep get sick, it is the shepherd who has to sit up in the night and nurse them. Sheep are delicate and easily injured, so the shepherd has to be compassionate and help them over difficult ground, if necessary carrying them across. How many times have we seen a shepherd carrying a newborn kid on his shoulders, because it is still not strong enough to walk?

5.    Vision: Sheep are close to the ground and so can’t see very far and are not aware of any hidden dangers. The shepherd has a vantage point and so he can see the danger long before the sheep become aware of it and warn the sheep against it. Anbiya foresee the results of deeds which the doers of the deeds don’t see. When a shepherd is herding his flock he is the only one who knows the direction to take and the destination that he wants them to reach. Sheep simply go in the direction he sets even if it is harmful. That is why it is essential for the shepherd to be clear about the direction in the first place and so vision is critical.

6.    Simplicity: A shepherd’s life has to be simple by default. So the shepherd learns austerity and to live without the luxuries. The shepherd has to carry his own possessions as the sheep will not carry them for him so he has to be light and mobile. The shepherd has to be physically tough and must take hardship in his stride. He sleeps early, wakes often in the night to check on his flock and then wakes early as the day breaks and his flock begins to stir. If he sleeps too long the sheep will leave him and go away in all directions.

7.    Closeness to nature: Shepherds naturally live close to the creation of AllahY. In most places, shepherds camp out with their sheep moving from grazing to grazing and don’t return home for months. Often their only companions are their sheep. You have to love solitude and know how to keep yourself engaged to be a good shepherd. There is plenty of time to reflect, no urgency to go from place to place and the opportunity to get to know yourself very well. Among the joys of being close to nature is being able to see the stars, eat and drink natural things, sleep on the ground. To hear the silence. To become comfortable with darkness and not feel threatened. To see the sun rise and set, recognize the signs of AllahY in His creation and so build his own connection with the One to whom he will have to answer one day.

All these are the benefits of herding sheep. Even if we don’t do that literally today, it is important to ask how many of these qualities are within us and what we are doing to develop those that are not.

To every Israeli soldier

Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
For we are one people, whether you like it or not
You are a Semite, A son of Israeel (Issac)
I am a Semite, A son of Ismaeel (Ishmael)
Our father, the father of both you and I
Is Ibrahim (Abraham)
Or are you one who will even deny his own father?
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
We will die on our feet
But we will not live on our knees.
You know how to kill, But we know how to die
Hitler gassed 6 million of you, but he could not kill your spirit
Those who died only made stronger, those who remained alive
Why then did you imagine that if you became Hitlers
The results of your ‘gassing’ would be any different?
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
Just as others silently watched you going into the gas chambers
Others silently watch us burying our children, the children that you continue to kill
But we remind ourselves
That the blow that does not break the back, only strengthens you.
O! You who used to be the People of Musa (Moses),
But today you have become people of the Firawn (Pharaoh)
Remember we are the real people of Moses, for we, not you, believe in his message
Remember that when the fight is between Moses and Pharaoh
Moses always wins.
 We say to the silent watchers, the cowards,
We say to those who sit securely in their homes
We are the front line who are holding back the enemy
When we fall, it will be your turn.
Remember O! Arabs
The story of the White Bull (Al Thawr il Abyadh)
Who said to the world when the tiger finally came for him
Listen O! People, I do not die today,
I died when the Black Bull died.
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
We did not come into this world to live here forever
Neither did you
One day we will all go from here
Whether we like it or not
What is important my brother, son of Israeel
Sons of a Prophet, O! What have you become today?
What have you allowed them to make you?
Kill us, if that is what you want to do
At least we die at the hands of our own brothers
And not at the hands of strangers
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
We laugh as we see your Apache helicopters and F-16 jets fly overhead
We laugh because we can smell your fear
Why else do you need Apaches and F-16s to fight children with rocks?
A battle of honor is between equals
We challenge you, you who have sold your honor
Come to us as equals so that we can show you how to die with honor
We laugh at you because we know, that not in a million years
Will one of you ever have the guts to stand up to one of our children
Without hiding behind an array of weapons that the American tax payer gives you
We laugh at you, because that is what every warrior does
When he faces an army of cowards.
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
It is not whether we live or die that is important
It is how we live and how we die
Ask yourself: How would you like to be remembered?
Without respect, despised and accursed through the centuries,
Or blessed, honored, your passing mourned.
Allah is our witness: We lived with honor; begging for no favors
And He is our witness: That today we die with honor, on our feet
Fighting until the last breath leaves our body, even if all we have in our hands are stones
He is the witness over us both
As you kill us and as we die
And to Him is our return
Listen and listen well
O! One who could have been our brother
On that Day, my little baby who you killed last night
Will ask Him for what crime she was murdered
Prepare your answer, O! One who could have been our brother
For you will answer to Him
I swear by His Power: You will answer to Him.

About Life and Living

Methuselah lived 986 years and all they said about him was that he died.
~ Francis Behymer

One of the classic stances of today is to talk about the ‘sanctity of human life’. I put that phrase in inverted commas because if we look about ourselves at all the millions dying due to deprivation or war or oppression, we can see that human life is about the cheapest commodity that we have today. However since hypocrisy is the universal virtue of today, it is only appropriate that we at least talk about the sanctity of human life. Never mind that sanctity really depends not on whether the life is human or not, but on which human it is. Some humans are more expendable than others. When we kill them we call it ‘collateral damage’. But when the killers are killed, it is called ‘murder most foul’. And yet they were both human and they both died.
The question therefore is not about life itself but about its real value. I ask myself, “What is the value of my life?”
In my view my life can be as valuable as I want to make it. It is not how long I live, but how I live which is more important. It is not what I do but the intention behind that action which determines whether that action is worthy of appreciation and emulation or an illustration of something to avoid at all costs.  A life that is lived creating value is a valuable life. One that is lived indulging oneself and one’s desires or worse, creating negative effects is a life wasted. After all animals also live and do whatever pleases them. But they leave no mark of their passing. They live, they reproduce, they die. Most humans do the same, with as much effect on their environment, society and time such that when it is mentioned that they once lived, one is tempted to ask, “So what?”
We only live once. During the course of that life, a large part of it is spent in growing up and growing old. Between the two is a brief period where a window opens. A window of opportunity where we have the chance to make a difference. Whether we are able to take advantage of this window depends on whether we anticipated it and prepared for it. Every one of us has this window in our lives. But some of us, when opportunity knocks, we complain about the noise.
Now, if the value we add to our lives determines how valuable our lives are, then we need to be clear about what the most valuable thing for us to do is.
There are many things that add value to life. But the individual’s decision about what to do depends on two factors:
1.    The talents we have been gifted with
2.    The most important thing that needs to be done at the time we walk the earth
What we do or choose not to do, determines whether we are remembered and how.
“In the final analysis:
It all matters…
Everything that you do or choose not to do,
Communicate brand value and character.”
In my view there is one thing that takes precedence over all else when we look at the things that add value to human life. That is the establishment of justice. It is the rule of law that distinguishes human life from animal existence. It is the practice of the concepts of justice, that none must be discriminated against, that oppression is not legal and that crime attracts punishment which determine the maturity of a civilization. Barbarism is defined as a state where such rules are not apparent in practice, though in some societies they may well be spoken of, even with reverence. When Islam came into the world, these were the issues that attracted the worst opposition from the entrenched establishment because it is the establishment of justice that shakes the foundation of despotic rule. So therefore in my view, the most valuable thing in life is to establish justice.
At all places and in all times, it is the establishment of justice that is the most critical underpinning to all other activity. A mother who brings up her children with a focus on establishing justice creates harmony in the home and brings up good citizens. A teacher who focuses on the establishment of justice in his or her teaching creates a society that is free from discrimination and which encourages merit. A manager who focuses on the establishment of justice creates a work atmosphere that rewards genuine effort and enables employees to find fulfillment in their work. A government that focuses on the establishment of justice ensures that the talents of all citizens are allowed to flower for the benefit of the nation and that strong groups support the weak instead of oppressing them. So the establishment of justice is the single most valuable goal that anyone can work for.
However as I mentioned, establishing justice is not easy. It never was:
“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
But conscience asks the question – is it right?
And there comes a time when one
must take a position that is neither safe,
nor politic, nor popular;
But one must take it because it is right.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And that is the key; one must do what is right, no matter what the cost. But then who said it was easy? I only said that it was the most valuable thing to do. Not the easiest.
There is one key ingredient that is needed if one wants to establish justice and that is courage. Nobody is born with courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the willingness to go on. Courage is an acquired virtue. And how is it to be acquired? By practicing it. Courage comes when we take a stand for justice. It is the result of taking a stand for justice. We don’t take the stand because we have courage. We get courage when we decide to take the stand. When we first stand up our knees are weak with fear, our breath is short, our eyes mist over, there are cramps in our bellies and our voice is choked. But when we stand, it is as if a door opens and a cool breeze blows in our face that takes away our fear. We suddenly find steel being inserted into our spinal cord. Our legs become firm and strong, our voice powerful. And all because we decided to take the stand. Because we had faith.
“When you come to the end of the light of all that you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be something firm to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.”
~ Barbara Winters
A young boy came up to me during a gathering that I was addressing in Chennai at the Crescent School masjid, soon after the Gujarat genocide and asked me, “If I am surrounded by a mob which threatens to kill me unless I say that I am not a Muslim, is it okay if I say that to save my life?”
I said to him, “My son, it is not important whether you die or not, because one day we all die. What is important is how you die. Even more important is how you live. For so shall you be remembered.”

But you know, I was not talking to him at all. I was talking to myself.