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Lead a team only when you are passionate about people

What makes a good Leader?

When I ask this question in my workshops, I get a laundry list of answers. We fill one sheet after another on the flip chart writing these qualities. And I wonder how can one person have so many amazing attributes? We want our leaders to be role models in every way. What do we get in reality? How many of us have been lucky to work for bosses who were true leaders? How does one assess a leader’s capability on each of these parameters. It is a herculean task.

When I look back and think of all the bosses I have worked for, some of them completely stand apart. And what made then stand apart is their passion for people. They focussed on people day in and day out. Every time their team member achieved something, crossed a milestone, they felt overjoyed. Some of the things they did:

1. Extensive focus on people development – Everyone loves a manager who cares for their development. They made sure they had a plan for each member and followed through the plan.

2. One to one talk – They grabbed every chance of having a one to one chat with their team members on how things were. These talks were not marked or requested for, it came naturally to them. They used every 5-10 minutes they got alone with their team members to connect with them and listen to them.

3. Celebrate Team member’s win – They shared the same joy as team members on their achieving a milestone. These people made sure that they shared and celebrated every individual’s success.

4. Stood with their Team members – In tough times they did not shy away from rolling up their sleeve and working shoulder to shoulder with their team.

5. Care for everyone – They created an environment of Trust in the team by caring for their team members.

I believe that lack of “Passion for people” is one of the main reason why some teams are not managed effectively. Taking team responsibility is a growth step for most functions. But before we give team responsibility to an individual contributor, we need to make sure that he/she has the passion for people. When leaders gets passionate about people, they can learn ways to be more effective and run better teams.

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Energiser or Energy sucker – What are you?

Last week I had a very good day at work. I met someone for the first time and after meeting him I felt super happy and energised. We did not really discuss any business proposition, which could have made me happy. It was the sheer energy of this person which rubbed on me. I came home and had to work on a presentation for the next day. My energy level was so high that I could barely concentrate. So, I decided to go for a walk. While walking, I bumped into an acquaintance. After exchanging 5-7 minutes of pleasantries and small talk, we went our ways. And suddenly I felt that all my energy had vanished. That was the first time I encountered such a clear difference between Energisers and Energy suckers.

We all know people in both categories. It is important to be aware and make a conscious decision of creating an ecosystem where Energisers outnumber the Suckers. Remember you are the average of 5 people you spend time with. So, the best way is to surround yourself with energisers and embark on the journey of becoming one.

Qualities of Energisers

1. Positivity – Energisers are extremely positive in life. They have the ability to learn from negative experiences and flip the page over. They understand that they cannot undo the past, they can only work on the future.

2. Enthusiastic – They exhibit energy in the way they talk, walk and carry themselves.

3. Mindfulness – Energisers are mindful of their surroundings and their actions, at all times.

4. Listeners – Diehard listeners, they give you their 100% attention when they are with you.

5. Compliment – In their conversation with you, they find out at least one thing that sets you apart. And they make sure that they let you know that they are aware of it by complimenting you rightly at the right time.

Quality of Energy suckers

1. Negativity – The main attribute which differentiates Energy suckers from Energisers is the lack of positivity in their talks. When you have a conversation with them, negative talks outnumber the positive talks. They are always ready to share the pain of their life and their challenges.

2. Self talk – Energy suckers are more interested in talking about themselves.

3. Pathetic Listeners – They are really bad at listening. They would ask you a question and start talking before you finish your talk. They suffer with low attention and focus.

4. Victims – Energy suckers behave as if they are in the worst situation in this world. They compare themselves with everyone around and increase their misery.

Fortunately most of us fall in between these two categories. It is good to be aware of these qualities which set the two apart. Practice being an “Energiser” and consciously stay away from “Energy suckers” as much as possible. 

I would love to hear your experiences with different kind of people.

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What is this hooha about different cultures?

Born in India, home to 350+ languages and 1500+ dialects, I got exposure to so called “cultural diversity” very early on in life. In my growing years, having people who did not speak my language was a very common phenomenon. In India, every region has its own diverse culture, people’s sensitivities change drastically as you go from North to South. It was such a way of life, that I never had to make an extra effort to connect with people. I somehow believed that everyone is different in some way, and attributed the difference to individual uniqueness rather than their cultural background.

I hear so much talk about “Cultural diversity” these days. At times it can be a criteria on which a recruiter can reject you. But is this really such a big thing? Are we really that different? Are my needs different from that of a person coming from Europe or Africa or GCC? Don’t they need love like I do? Don’t they need respect like I do? Don’t they want to feel nice and special like I do? Don’t they need financial, emotional and social security like I do? Is their Maslow’s model different than mine?

Come to think of it, we all are the same, we all have a strong need to be loved, respected and cared. We all want to feel special. The differences which we see are all superficial – the way we dress up, the languages we speak, our openness, and the way we behave with strangers.

I meet/work with a lot of people from different countries/cultures like anyone else in Dubai. When we meet people we ask them multiple questions to find a common ground. If we are from the same country, finding common ground is easier. But it is not impossible to find common ground with others as well. A few things which work for me-

1. Do not box people based on their origin. Social stigmas are the biggest roadblock to making new friends. Have an open mind at all times.

2. Be conversant with current news. This can help you in having conversations around another person’s country. I remember I was in US recently and someone asked me if Britishers were still ruling India. I have never heard a more ignorant statement. So make sure you do not make such mistakes.

3. Be sincere as this helps in long term. Even if you are not an extrovert, people would see your sincerity and would connect with you.

4. Add value to people whenever you can. Everyone loves people who add value to their lives.

5. Compliment people and tell them why you are complimenting them. They would remember you always. Remember to be sincere in complimenting, no flattering.

6. Express gratitude at all times for their actions.

7. Respect everyone at all times.

It might take you a while to reach to people from other cultures, but a sincere effort and pure heart goes a long way. Check this video, an evidence that we are all the same.

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Customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping

As the name suggests, it is mapping Customer’s entire journey with an organization from his/her point of view. It is extremely important that the whole journey is mapped taking into consideration how customers perceive it. Journey mapping starts right from the point where a customer feels a need for the product/service that an organization offers and makes first contact with the organization. Starting from there, it traces the journey through complete pre-sales, sales, delivery, billing, usage and after-sales support stages.

Once journey is mapped, all touch-points are identified for each stage. Touch-points are the points where the customers touch an organisation in some way. Touch-points could be static like your marketing, advertisement or interactive like a call to call center, meeting with a sales executive. Breaking each stage into touch-points helps understand how an organisation is doing at each stage. Touch-points are the core to understanding, creating and delivering a superior Customer Experience.

Extensive research is done to understand and identify touch-points as happy points, pain points or critical points. Happy points are the points where the organisation is doing a decent job and customers are happy. Pain points are the one which are causing pain to the customers and to the organisation. Critical points are the points which are critical to the relationship between customers and the organisation.

Seen above is a sample journey map for a retail banking customer. It starts from need generation where the customer feels the need for opening a bank account, does research on options available, shortlists the banks and moves to visit the branch. Depending on the experience at each stage with various providers in the shortlist, customer keeps dropping options and activates the account with the bank that provides the best experience.

In todays fast times, an organisation is as good as the last experience it delivered to a customer. Hence it becomes extremely important for organisations to have a holistic view of a customer’s journey with them, identify key touch-points and deliver consistently superior experience at those touch-points.

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Delivering wow to customers


I come across two questions whenever I talk about delivering wow to customers. First question organisations have is, “How do we deliver this wow”? And the second one is “How do we do it consistently”? I will take them one by one.

Delivering WOW

The first step to deliver WOW is to decide where you would like to deliver the wow? Which touch-points you would like to focus on? Which touch-points would differentiate you from competitors and give you most advocates?

Once you decide the touch-points, you need to define the exact experience you would like to deliver. Then work inward on people, processes and systems to deliver that predefined wow. A wow experience can be delivered by focusing on some very simple things as well, like addressing people by their name when they call your contact center, calling back customers after an interaction with your organization to know how their experience was, increasing the speed of service, empathizing with them or using technology to create personalized experiences and designing services keeping the customer persona in mind.

One simple rule to deliver wow is to convert a “Moment of anxiety” for a customer into “Moment of surprise”.

I was once traveling with my infant kid. When I checked in for the flight, I was very anxious as we have all seen crying kids on flights. The flight group staff checking me in sensed the anxiety and blocked the seat next to me, so that I had more space for myself. This was a wow moment and it really helped me in the travel.

Delivering WOW consistently

There are a few challenges in delivering WOW to customers on a consistent basis like developing a wow culture across the organization and keeping employees motivated at all times. Also, delivering wow every time raises the expectations of your customers so you have to surpass your own benchmarks. This can be a daunting task for any organization and the key is to keep employees engaged, sensitize them to customer issues, create a sense of belonging, empower them and design processes for formal and informal rewards. And while doing all this, be sincere to your customers as well as employees.

Bottomline: Delivering wow needs a pro-active outside-in approach. It is not an outcome of your processes or a CRM system.

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3 Laws of Customer experience

Customer Experience – You type these words on the internet and boom! looks like everyone in the world is working to improve the Customer Experience, either for themselves or for others. There are so many frameworks/tools/models available. We at Lead On have tried to make it simple, as we always promise. So here are the 3 laws of Customer Experience.

1. Make – Offer – Maintain

Make your Customer Experience Strategy, decide what you want to stand for. Lot of organizations want to be customer centric, but they do not have a clear Customer experience strategy. Around 51% of customer experience leaders say that the lack of a customer experience strategy is their biggest barrier to their efforts.

Offer your strategy by guiding all available resources towards it. Your strategy is like your promise to the customer.

Maintain your offering across the life-cycle of the customer at all touch-points.

2. Enable – Engage – Empower

Enable your employees by bringing out the best in them. Give them opportunity and ambience to grow.

Engage them, show them the bigger picture, make them part of any change you want to bring in and tell them where they fit in. Only engaged employees can engage customers.

Empower your employees to solve customer issues. If I call an organization and the person I speak with has to turn to seniors for every little thing, my experience is certainly bad. We all know of Ritz Carlton policy where every employee (including cleaners) has a sanction of USD 2000 to solve any customer issue. And till date, no employee has ever used the full amount. This for sure tells me that they care about their customers.

3. Be Honest

And in doing all this, you have to be honest. Remember, people can see through your actions. Customer centricity can never be faked.

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