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Stories from the Workplace
|by Rajeev Moothedath|
Stories have been known to make a big impact on our lives. As children, if we were told stories of valour and courage. They inspire us to exhibit such qualities in later life. Similarly messages of love, compassion or empathy are best imbibed through stories. Yet, over the years there has been a dearth of stories. In the changed scenario, grandmothers no longer live under the roof of nuclear families. Working mothers and fathers do not have the time for stories. Children have moved to other sources like video and computer games to engage themselves. It appears that we have lost the fine art of telling stories which came easily and effortlessly to our ancestors.
What is true of the home, is true of the corporate scene. In the day to day struggle of meeting targets, maintaining the quality standards and besting the competition, we do not have the time to share stories of how we came up trumps in a tough situation, how we combined beautifully as a team to deliver the best results. These stories told and retold could have become folklore of the company that inspires not just one but generations of employees. Today, on the few occasions executives address employees, the examples taken are of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet or at best of Narayanamurthy or Dhirubhai Ambani and what they did to achieve success. There are hardly any stories from one's own company...
Bimal's story goes back to the year 2000. He had sold the Santro car to a customer. Once sale is completed, normally the job of the sales person is over and in case of any hiccup subsequently, the customer contacts the after sales person. But this customer decided to call Bimal whom he knew rather than a stranger. He was stranded on the middle of the road in Nungambakkam Chennai with his wife and two young kids at around 8 PM in the night. As the customer sounded frantic, Bimal told him to wait in the same place and that he would drive down personally to take a look. His residence being close by he reached in about fifteen minutes. On taking a look at the car, it was evident that it will need to be attended in the workshop. While the customer was digesting the impact of this bad news and pondering as to how he will take his family home, Bimal offered to give his personal car to him for the night. He said he would try to take the customers's car by driving it slowly to his residence as it is nearby, arrange for it to be attended to in the workshop the next day and have the car delivered to the customer's residence.
Needless to say, I was thrilled by this story. But before I could fully appreciate its impact, Bimal related the story of another customer, a lady whom he now referred to as 'aunty' as today she has become like a family member. Their relationship however had initially begun as between a customer and the sales manager. As a customer who had exchanged her car for a Hyundai car, Sophia was entitled to an exchange bonus. The dealer collects the relevant documents and sends the recommendation to the Hyundai Motor India sales headquarters in Delhi for sanctioning the payment. As there was delay in getting the bonus and the dealer was not keeping her informed of the exact position, Sophia who lives in Cochin contacted the regional office Chennai which had the administrative jurisdiction for south and was connected to Bimal. After going in to the details, Bimal not only kept her informed of where exactly her papers were at that point of time (allaying any doubt as to whether she would be denied her rightful claim) but also expedited the process. This initiative resulted in a life long relationship with the customer. After that periodically whenever Sophia wished to change / upgrade her car, she invariably called Bimal for advice and continues to keep in touch till date.
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