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Rocket Singh and Customer Experience Few Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Recently released movie Rocket Singh may or may not be hit among the movie buffs but it surely has a message or two to take away which can benefit entrepreneurs, especially in India. Not everything is practical but things which are can really make a difference.

Dont strive to get Customers, get evangelists.

Buyers today are much more conscious about overall experience than ever. Every interaction with your customer is an opportunity to influence and to turn him into a talking billboard for your company. Give them the respect and the little love they deserve and you will be duly rewarded.

You dont have it, you cant fake it

Rule books are not the way to go if you aim to be good at customer service. Your team should be passionate about seeing that smile on customers face even if this requires you to go that extra step. These things are part of an organizations culture and cant be enforced. Moreover, culture is difficult to change, set it right as early as possible.

Understand Competition.
However big your competition is, if they are not consumer centric, you have an opportunity. Confirm that the market is indeed experience sensitive and gauge how difficult is to delight customer. Web based companies in particular have a level playing field against competitors in most cases and should leverage it. The bulk and fat your competitions have accumulated wont let them run faster even if they want to. Indian web space, for example, is filled with such companies (huge opportunity!).

The team
This one has been coming up over and over on this blog. Your team should have right skills, should gel well and should be passionate about your product and services. A successful business demands much more than a good product offering. The sooner you get it, better are your chances to become remarkable and not many want to settle for something less than remarkable.

Rocket Singh Salesman Can Startups Really Hire Him?

I just watched Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year movie and couldnt help, but related to one of the articles earlier published @pluggdin (Ethics, Startups and the case for being Practical). First a little bit about Rocket Singh Salesman movie. The movie is about Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor), an average student blessed with charming personality. After trying out his luck with MBA, he decides to get into sales and surprisingly, he actually cracks it. But after a certain point in time, question of ethics come in like any sales person, he needs to decide between ethics and practical aspect of business. While what he does is a no-brainer, the movie takes the cake with great sense of humour and honesty. Reviewing movie @ isnt something I am here for (heck! they wont let me do that), but being a startup in mobile vas space, we have faced similar ethical challenges and wanted to share my experience with the entrepreneurial community. To give you certain context, we build vas services and without operators we are like fish without water. Operators do not care to speak to small companies like us and one needs to really pursue them for a meeting (thats where Rocket Singhs persuasion skill helps). What sometimes works is when you show them some real-but-somewhat-fake big numbers, when you show them big names/advisors in your company advisory board (who are just name sake and have allowed us to put their names in our presentation for percentage equity) and even though we feel a little unethical about this, this is how business seems to work (yes, we cracked one deal and will announce the details when the timing is right). Coming back to the movie, Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year is an awesome feel-good movie, but if you are a startup/small business, do think whether you want to hire Rocket Singh as your salesman. Extracting from another article (Startups and the Blurred line of Ethics Where do you draw the line?), there are enough examples from Silicon Valley where companies like YouTube/Orkut have crossed that thin line of ethics and practicality and like it or not, it has worked for them.

Rocket Singh: Lessons for todays businesses

I recently watched the movie Rocket Singh, and was impressed by the offbeat storyline. Reflecting on the narrative further, I realized that there were some lessons that could be actually distilled from Rocket Singhs reel world to real world of business. The sales and marketing person couldnt help but share these thoughts with you.

All of us have a Rocket Singh in us a young nave salesman who believes in integrity, honesty and fair play. The protagonist in the movie, Harpreet Singh Bedi or Rocket Singh, has a huge amount of honesty and integrity. He is a B. Com. graduate with a 35% pass mark, who with difficulty becomes a salesman at a well-known computer company, At Your Service (AYS). During his first sales call to a client, he is asked for a bribe. The outraged Singh is red faced and files a complaint with the company, only to earn himself public humiliation at his workplace as well as a demotion. Each of us has faced this dilemma at some point in our careers, when faced with a choice where we can stick to the ethical high ground or take the easy way out . Although honesty and integrity does not work for Singh in the short run, in the long term, his moral fibre allows him to build relationships with his clients, and inspire trust in his dealings. Based on these values, he begins his own company by selling computers at a cheaper rate than AYS from within the company! This I thought was rather filmy and done for dramatic effect, especially when his own boss has a conversation with the CEO of Rocket Singh Corporation who happens to be in the other room. Nonetheless, this does not detract from the learnings in the movie, as the employees have to agree to a hostile takeover as well as spend some time in jail in recompense. Moreover, despite the morally grey ground that he enters, Singh keeps an account of resources such as printing and phone calls and attempts to give compensation to AYS. The first real lesson the movie gives is, sales should be about people and not numbers; numbers must always follow people. Business then, is not about cutting prices but about creating value for the customer. By the strength of focus on customer service, integrity and transparency in pricing, and a genuine approach to sales, the Rocket Singh Corporation fast overtakes the business of AYS. The hefty bribes offered by AYS fail in front of the superior service offered by Rocket. Similarly, businesses today are now defined by a focus on services. Secondly, Rocket Singh addresses one of the key problems faced by any large organization of how to treat employees like co-owners . The process of

empowerment brings out the best in employees. So the Receptionist at AYS becomes the Customer Relations Executive at Rocket, while the chai-walla becomes a computer assembler. As soon as the chai-walla begins to be called Mr. Srivastava, he learns a new state of self-respect and worth. Every person in an organization should be similarly respected. Thus, by making other employees equal co-owners in his company, Rocket Singh acquires a loyal, dedicated and hardworking team who work day and night to build the company. By making the receptionist, the chai-walla, the corrupt salesman and the lazy computer technician his partners as well as the co-owners of Rocket Sales Corporation, he inspires self-belief, commitment and a sense of teamwork. Business then, is not about cutting prices but about creating value for the customer. Thirdly, some of the most relevant learnings from the movie for businesses today are the reasons why Mergers and Acquisitions are often unsuccessful . A hostile takeover of a smaller company on the strength of a cheque book by a larger organization makes it generally difficult to assimilate into the larger organization. A friendly win-win situation needs to be created for all parties. Furthermore, cultural assimilation is the most important factor for two organizations to merge. The culture of corruption and bribery at AYS could not merge with Rockets culture of integrity, hard work and honesty. Finally, one of the more personal lessons that one can learn from this film is that it not only pays to be honest, simple and truthful in the long term, but that this can also help you to improve your public image and even help you get the girl in the end! Does this movie also indicates our real life trauma where in pressure has been built up on younger generation to perform from Day One or may be Rocket Singh was over ambitious and was desperate to prove himself even if that led him take unethical side of so called SALES. As Azim Premji has mentioned in one of his books People dont leave organisation, they leave Managers incidently after watching the movie i could only sense and feel that Customers dont leave products they leave services and thats where rocket Singh could capitalise. A good or bad after sales service would ensure an individuals fate in future in this competitive world. As a salesman myself i can vouch for the same. Great inspirational movie though. Long live Rocket Singh!!!