Lose some...Win 'em all.!

Author: Shrutin N Shetty (Page 24 of 26)

Multiple Copy Paste

Multiple Copy Paste

Ever felt the need for a double or second ‘Copy-Paste’ option on your computer, tablet or even mobile phone? That is, when you could copy 2 different things one after the other, and then paste them back in sequence. As opposed to doing a copy-paste and copy-paste.

I’ve seriously felt a desperate need for it on several occasions, like say when you have to do multiple copy-paste from and to different locations (say different word files), or more importantly, when say you wanted to type a really funny message and be able to send it in 2 parts, with just that fraction of a second of time interval between them to have that killer punch. Instead we’d have to either send the whole message together, or take a while typing out the second half by which time the joke would’ve lost half the effect.

Is it so difficult to have a double ‘copy-paste’? Perhaps a <Ctrl-C-1, Ctrl-C-2> and <Ctrl-V-1, Ctrl-V-2> or whatever other simple easy-for-your-fingers combination (you’d have to figure it out on touchscreen devices). Of course, more than a double copy-paste might get a little confusing to work on. “Where did I have to paste ‘Copy 4’ now?” Or “Say, what was ‘Copy 4’ about?”  😉

But imagine the benefits, the little bits of time and effort we’d save,  and how we could make chat a little bit more fun.!

Work Smarter, or Work Longer?

I guess the longer working hours became more and more common only in the last decade or slightly more, but it’s quite surprising that it seems to be going strong even to this day in many companies.
And not only do companies demand more of the employee’s time, employees surprisingly take pride in claiming they work anywhere for those 15 or 18 hours a day, day after day.

Now, I don’t know about other educational courses, but anyone who’s done their engineering, or even sat through a 3-4 hour management ‘discourse’ would know how the brain just shuts off after a bit.
Or for that matter, even if you were busy working on a school or college project on a tight deadline, after hours of continuous work, am sure you would have realized that while it was perhaps possible to continue doing some monotonous mindless repetitions (say copying full paragraphs from one document to another), it was near impossible to do something creative or something that required you to reason.

I know for sure from personal experience. During engineering, I was up for 2.5 days straight during a week-long cultural event at college. And somewhere towards the end of that 2.5 days, some genius put me in charge of handling music for a group dance. And at any other time, I could operate the Winamp shortcuts blindfolded, but right there and then, I goofed, and stopped instead of pausing a track. Thankfully the highly skilled bunch of girls picked up from some random music position I started again, and they were big-hearted enough to spare me later too.
Anyway, so how is it humanly possible to go through those extra long work hour days without losing out on productivity and creativity?
Sure you’d probably manage to impress a superior who thinks ‘long work hours=value for money on employee salary’, but am sure others would realize what they are losing in the bargain, the purpose for which they had hired you in the first place.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

There is this shopping place close to my office (don’t know if it would qualify as a mall, cause even though its got some of the characteristics of one, it does not feel like one). Anyway,I drop in there sometimes to grab a bite at a restaurant there. So once I enter the main gate, there are a bunch of security folk who may or may not check the boot and glove compartment of your car, but more often than not, they will still make it a point to ask you 2 things, your name, and where you stay.

They seem to have cracked the code to a better and safer security process. These folk are skilled enough to supposedly be able to tell the good guys from the bad just by knowing the name and area of residence. Isn’t that terrific?!

So I guess it is safe to assume that all the bad elements usually stay in the same localities.

And that the mall folk know where those places are while our police don’t.

And ol’ Shakespeare was confident enough to say ‘what’s in a name?…..’.

We seem to take absurdity to unimaginably new heights everyday. That, or there is some reasoning behind it that makes this a far more effective tool as compared to searching the car. I don’t know.

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Google, Search Better

Google, Search Better

You know how you sometimes Google something, but the results are random or irrelevant.

And you know how Google has the +1 recommendation option on search results.

Now, here’s a suggestion that should be considered for Google, shopping sites, and those offering search directly via Google. How about an option similar to the FB ‘Like’ button? Individuals who have entered a search, can click on results that they feel do not match the search query. That way, after a listing hits a predetermined number of ‘clicks’ on the ‘wrong result’ button, it would alert the IT/ admin folk, who could then verify and accordingly change tags, etc. to improve all future searches progressively. Alternatively, the Google algorithm could rework the search results based on user input. Even though their algorithm already factors it in some way.

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Who’s the Richest?

Howdy folks.! Not sure if you missed the reading, I sure missed the writing though. And after a fabulous month-long vacation, I’m back to what I’m told is, the grind.

The office complex I work at has an elderly (67 year old) watchman who also oversees the parking lot at the back of the complex. Now the outskirts of Pune, as some of you may be aware, is not the best place to drive/ride. You have vehicles of all sizes coming from all possible directions. It’s the law of the jungle on the road, and its free for all.

You could be driving to work on a cold morning, your head still waking up, when you see a pair of headlights blinking at you. Your eyes re-focus and now they see a huge truck right behind those lights, and it’s headed for you. It takes a while to register, and by the time you swerve to avoid him and he whizzes past, you wonder if there was a truck actually driving on the wrong side of the road, or you just imagined it.

Anyway, so one afternoon, when I was driving back into that parking lot (which has 2 parallel rows of parking), it so happened that while there was ample parking in the row at the back, smart locals had left little or no place for you to reach there, by filling up the row of lots in the front. Talk about brainless people. And by that afternoon, I had already had my share of whizzes, and near hits (I still wonder why people still call them ‘near misses’. Not like you wanted them to hit anyway).

So when I saw the hard to access parking, it took my patience right over the hill. I parked, and went looking for the watchman in charge. And there was Mr. Albert John Anderson. He’s a 67 year old watchman with more than half his teeth missing. He was sitting calmly on a stool in a roofed parking lot, chatting with 2 drivers. I walked upto him and proceeded to give him a small dose on how he should have told people to leave empty spaces for cars to get into and out of the back row. He, in turn, proceeded to calmly explain to me that people in the area are, well, what they are, and how much could a 67 year old fellow request them. He said it was pointless reasoning with most people here. We then saw a group of 3 men entering the parking lot. Mr. Anderson asked me to observe how they sped out of the relatively tight parking lot, with little or no concern for people are cars around. So, the 2 drivers, Mr. Anderson and I turned to watch the 3 men get into the car, and zip out, literally like Mr. Anderson had said they would. We all burst out laughing.  From that day on, Mr. Anderson has the biggest smile on his face whenever he’d see me pull into the parking. I take his advice on where and how to park. He even asks me to pull up into a roofed lot in case one is available.

Today, being a Sunday, and a working day for me, I drove into the parking lot and found myself a nice sheltered spot in the surprisingly deserted lot. I was hoping that the continuous rain had washed off most of the mud and dirt on my car, that made it look like a serious 2 colour paint job. I nodded a hello to Mr. Anderson and proceeded up the stairs to work. Later today, when I got down to head for a quick lunch, I noticed that the car appeared to be spotless clean. I wondered how the rain could have possibly done that. Right about then Mr. Anderson walks up to me and says that he had washed my car. I thanked him a few times, which he brushed off with his big smile. I then proceeded to lunch. When I got back, I walked up to Mr. Anderson who was still on his little seat, and I thanked him again and gave him some money, which he gratefully accepted. We then spoke for a bit, and he told me that he was brought up at an orphanage, and that he now has 3 children who are doing well for themselves. I also found out that his monthly salary was a paltry Rs.XXXX/-, of which he spent Rs.300 on his bus pass. Now, that salary, is quite low a sum, with a large number of people earning that amount in 1-2 days, But yet, he appears so much at peace. Which is surprising, considering that monthly salary is low enough to give people many a sleepless night.

With all the money we make in today’s growing economy, the tens of thousands or more; all the luxuries we live in, and our never-ending desire for more; I am yet to find someone who can smile so contently and genuinely, as Mr. Anderson can. And if you think about it, don’t you think he must be the richest of us all.

Time for the rest of us to re-focus our priorities, and our lives. To live with what we have, live for  good times, live for people, live for the moment.!

We Deliver.!

We Deliver.!

Several years back, I used to work in the ever so famous BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Industry in one of India’s IT hotbeds, Bangalore. My job involved providing technical assistance to North American customers of our pretty impressive all-in-one printer range.

There was a time I wondered if the monotony could leave me permanently depressed. Or worse, brain-damaged. But right then, I received an email from my boss. He was forwarding an email from a customer I had assisted a few days before. The customer had needed print cartridges urgently. For some reason unknown to most of us, it took about 3-4 days after placing an order, for the cartridges to actually reach the customer. (And in case you wondered, ‘no, the cartridges weren’t shipped from India).

While this was a free delivery, there was a 1-day shipping for some charge. I was aware that in some special cases, I could request a senior colleague to waive off the charges on the 1-day fee, but it was not a luxury I’d like to take for granted. So I promised the customer a 3-4 day delivery period and that I would try to have the cartridges delivered earlier if possible.

Coming back to the email the customer had sent, it read something on the lines of  – I would like to thank XYZ for the quick shipping of my print cartridges. He said it would take 3-4 days, but when it arrived the next day, I was thrilled. He has done what we in the customer service industry call ‘under-promising and over-delivering’, the surest way to win a customer and a little more to that effect.

That was my first lesson in customer service; ok maybe not the first, but certainly the one with the most impact. It has been a while since that corporate ‘high’, and since those technical support days, but that feedback has stayed on with me. While I’m no ‘pro’ at customer service, I do understand its ever-increasing importance in any business, and I constantly try to figure ways of improving the customer’s experience.

And I have found many an Indian BPO employee, or for that matter, even your average sales or service staff at any retail outlet or business centre, bubbling with enthusiasm to cater to the customer’s every demand. And while this is a great thing for customers, there are 2 key ingredients missing in many cases. Those being  Planning and Communicating. A simple equation of their effect on customer experience would look something like:

Customer Experience = Communicating (Planning+Commitment+Delivering on Commitment)

Most of us are great at committing, but tend to fall a little short when it is time to deliver on the commitment. And this causes unnecessary customer dissatisfaction.

In our endeavor to give the customer that little bit ‘extra’, we often miscalculate delivery or commitment deadlines. And this ends up causing the exact opposite of the effect we had planned for.

If we were to take into account all possible influencing factors (Planning) and build it into a commitment or delivery deadline, and perhaps even throw in a little buffer if we have a gut feel about possible delay, we would be giving the customer a more realistic picture. And of course, nothing beats plain old ‘Communication’. It is extremely important that we communicate with the customer. Even a call or message updating them the moment you see a deadline getting stretched, does wonders. You cannot imagine how much customers appreciate that phone call informing them of a delay. It beats them arriving at your doorstep on D-day only to be asked to come the following week.

To my customer.
I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.
I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.
-Unknown

Then of course, nothing beats delivering on a commitment or deadline.!

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Bumblebee

According to the theories of Aerodynamics, the bumblebee should be unable to fly. The size, weight, and shape of its body, in relationship to its total wing span make it technically impossible to fly. The bumblebee, however, being ignorant of those theories, goes ahead and flies anyway.

I was reading an article about how some researchers are expecting another recession in the United States before things finally get better, and what that could possibly do to small businesses which survived the first bout of recession.

This sounds like an average day in the life of most of us, speculating about what might, and what might not; constantly living in fear of the unknown. I was trying to imagine myself as running a small business someplace, and if the economy were heading south, what would I do. Would I panic, and try to do as much business while the scene is still looking good, or would I try to re-work my business to make sure it sees the highs after the dip?

If most of us reduced all that speculation, we might just be staring at brilliant and simple solutions to many of life’s intriguing questions right in the face.

Keep Flying anyway…

what’SAPpening?

what’SAPpening?

You know the whole “effect” thing. It is all about how things are put, less about what things really are. Its more about the gift wrap than about the gift. More to do with the fanfare, and less about the intention; all about quantity, not much about quality,  and all that.

For the past few months, one of my responsibilities at work includes contacting the Management folk at Colleges and B-Schools and introducing them to the SAP uAcademy courses, which are an innovative way of enabling students to gain working knowledge of SAP by way of a Learning Management System, an online Audio-Visual module, whereby students can take the course at their own pace, re-work topics, and they can have queries immediately answered by SAP’s support team by way of call, email, chat or video chat. And all this at a heavy discount to the SAP courses available at Training Centres.

Anyway, a part of this task involves me looking up college websites, identifying the right person to contact. A Vice Chancellor (VC) or Chairman, and in many cases, the Director or Dean.

I had a list of colleges that I started tackling one by one. The first few calls felt like I was speaking to the gatekeeper to heaven. Whose only job was to make it nearly impossible to reach the VC or President. I heard every reason from ‘he is traveling’, ‘not in town’, ‘not at his desk’ to more direct ‘no one can speak directly with him’ and so on. Schools, and I thought these folks were supposed to be a little more approachable. I have not had even half the trouble speaking and meeting General Managers and Directors at companies. And here I was, struggling to meet people at colleges.

Then, one Saturday, a few days and many calls later, I called a college on the number given on their ‘Contact Us’ page. And to my surprise, the Director answered! (‘Wha.!’, I’d say to myself, just praying it wasn’t a prank by a bored peon looking for a kick out of his otherwise mundane routine).

As I kept working on my list, I got to some colleges which had mobile numbers listed under ‘Contact Us’, which belonged to Directors or Dean’s. A refreshing change from the otherwise fortress some institutes had around their heads.

And today, when I was almost at the end of my list, I call a college and asked only for the Director’s email id (no, couldn’t find any direct lines, and I was way too bored to request a direct word with the Director), saying I will first email him and then call to speak with him, and the generous person at the other end says ‘Hold on, I’ll connect you to him, you could speak to him directly’.

The more you want something done, people seem to make it that much tougher. When you don’t care, they’ll give you that extra push up the hill. Humans, never cease to amaze.

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Facebook without a Face

Yesterday, Airtel launched a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) system based service. The service, jointly developed by Facebook and U2opia Mobile, a Singapore based company, allows users to access Facebook on their mobile phones without the need for a GPRS service. It works on the same concept as the messaging service you use to check your prepaid balance, etc. So essentially, you would be able to check updates, view comments and ‘like’ news feeds, add friends, post on walls, etc. Of course, since it is a message based service, you will not be able to acccess any media content like photographs, videos, etc. It is useful for people with basic mobile handsets too.

Wonder how that’s gonnna be. Facebook, without the media content, would not be half as fun. A Facebook without a face. It would be similar to trying to read the news by way of SMS’s. Quite painful to say the least. And in this day and age, when phones without a decent screen resolution and GPRS capability is almost an unheard of thing. When even people who just about earn enough to make ends meet are probably onto their second or even third mobile phone that supports GPRS and media content, I wonder who would be the target audience for such a service, even if its free, which by the way, it’s not (don’t lose heart, it comes at a nominal Re. 1 per day).

So, back to who might use such a service. Only person I can think of is a Facebook addict, who, when stuck in an area with a weak network signal, not sufficient for GPRS, and is about to break into a sweat wondering about all the updates he or she is missing as the seconds tick by; then, such a service might just save their lives.

I like

I suppose the reason behind people “liking‘ all the pages and songs and tv shows and blah blah on Facebook is that they’re kinda lonely, and are, by some natural instinct, walking around with their hearts and about 50 MB of data from the deepest crevices of their brains, all on their sleeve, for the world to know.

All the movies they like, the soaps, celebrities, ideas, businesses, brands, songs, books, (groan), and what have you.

It’s akin to people dressing their best even when they are grocery shopping at their neighbourhood store, always prepared for a possibility of bumping into their soulmate or whatever. (don’t give me that puzzled look, there has been a study carried out to that effect).

So I guess on one side, you have people desperately seeking attention with an ever-increasing sense of loneliness, who’re adding to their information ‘sleeve’; and on the other hand, an increasing reduction (ok, I’m sure you can use those two “opposite” meaning words together, they’re supposed to attract afterall, remember?)… ok, enough of all that play of words.

Back to the topic. Yeah, so on the other hand, you have an increasing reduction in the amount people care for details nowadays, so who do you think, would have the patience, or be inclined to read your entire bio-data (read info or wall) unless they’re perhaps, in school and going through the phase of their first 50 or so crushes?

So then, what is the point of it all anyway?

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