Monday, December 04, 2006

~Suresh - The Florist~

It was one of those days in the middle of the no holds barred monsoon, and I had two primary tasks to carry out

  • Repair my World Space Radio ( And I have no qualms about mentioning the name of the Radio co. on my blog)
  • Send flowers to... ( And I do have qualms about mentioning the name of the person who I was to send flowers to on my blog)

Obviously, I thought repairing my World Space Radio would be the easier of the two. All, I would have to do is call the ’24 Hr call center’ place a request and voila someone would be there at my doorstep with a raincoat, an umbrella or both.

The flowers bit, I was dreading as visions of me confused on what to give, all while holding a leaky umbrella, with the overriding fear of my car being towed away for being parked in a no-parking zone, suddenly started running through my head.


So, I called World Space, and was greeted by the A.R Rehman tune. After a more than generous listening in to his latest composition, someone addressed me…

“Thank you for calling Worldspace, this is Joy, how may I assist you ?”

So I heard myself say, “Hey Joy,I have a slight problem with my ...”

And Joy went, “Before, I take down the receiver details. I need to verify your identity” And he subsequently started an inquisition, which Spanish Kings would have been proud of. Name? Date of Birth? Mother’s maiden name? Neighbor’s dog’s name…the works.

Then he went, you are Sudhir Syal staying in so and so, father of so and so, working in so and so, like he was the Indian avatar of Sherlock Holmes or something, and then finally, how may I help you?

Why someone would impersonate me to repair my Worldspace is a difficult question to answer anyway, I had passed the identity check.

On a parallel line, I managed to unearth a flowery visiting card of the flowery florist in question, and decided to give him a call .I was then greeted, with a thoroughly entertaining song, followed by a spontaneous, " Saar … Sudhir Saar Yepidi Saar, sollengu Saar – ow can I elp you ?" Identity confirmed.


After the painful identity check, I proceeded to tell Joy, that because of the rains, my system was down and I would hence need one his boys to get it up and running again. A painful address confirmation followed, which didn’t match, leading to another round of identity confirmation and finally after all that, “Someone, will be coming over to your residence 2 days from now.”,was the confirmation I managed to squeeze out.

Par contraire, It wasnt rocket science for Suresh Saar, to figure out that I was calling him to get flowers delivered somewhere. On the choice, I told him my budget, told him to give me a good deal, and choose the flowers with as much care, as if he were sending it to Khushboo herself. A rough address, a landmark, the name of the recipient to be and there he went..

You dont believe me?

Ok. There he went...


One of his dudes, did land up a few days later, right in the middle of the afternoon, “ Saar, World Space damaged, Vonamay panna mudiyadey ( Click)”. (World Space damaged- Cannot do anything). Hang on, isn’t that why I called him? My efforts to get back in touch with him were in vain, which means I was back to square one. So, I decided to call Joy again – Joy was on leave, he gets Saturdays and Sundays off and works 7 hours a day, I like that job. I asked to speak to the manager, updated him of what was going on, and was re-assured, that someone would call me in 2 days.

No one did, so I spoke to him again and again till I lost hope in the Pune based call center and decided to call the Chennai office directly. At about 10 AM in the morning, an enthusiastic security guard picked up the phone informing me that no one had made it to the office, full of conviction he then told me, “ No worries, Saar- for all service related issues, kindly call-- Call Center “

I had given up.

On the flowery end, the exact execution of how the flowers reached the specified destination without the door no., exact street name,etc, I will never completely know. However, I did receive a call from the florist, confirming that the flowers were in fact, collected by a lady. He also conveyed, how much he approved of the how the lady looked, and how the flowers exactly matched what she was wearing.More importantly, the next morning, I got a call thanking me for the beautiful flowers. ‘Customer delight’, isn’t that what they are calling it these days..


Unlike Worldspace, which didn’t provide any service to speak of. Suresh – the florist offered at least 2 very user friendly Value Added services.

  • Flowers on Credit – Order - send flowers - Credit- payable when able

Obviously this is available only to 'Frequent Flower' customers, and not to all junta. And then the complete clincher ,

  • Romantic note - Instant replication

While speaking to Suresh, I expressed the desire of attaching a small note with the flowers. Instantaneously, he said, “ Saar, no problem saar….Yenaka Ippo SMS panenga saar.” ( Not a problem at all, SMS it to me) And there I was, sms’ing to the florist, the message I wanted to write on the note to be sent along with the flowers.So thereI went," Dear xxxx, …..” , which I might admit, made me feel quite strange. Beware, I dont recommend this to all and sundry. They are other florists, who could do all sorts of things with the sms you send them. But then Suresh,no Suresh..... is not your regular florist.

So there, we go, within exactly 2 hours, I had flowers with a ‘note’ delivered, without me moving an inch from my office desk – minimum fuss-minimum supply chain fundas- minimum technology - Flowers - Delivered, and really thats all I wanted.

Sometimes, I wonder outsourcing simple service requests to call centers really serve the purpose. Whether BPO’s are good for the economy, the long term interests of the country, have been issues which have been debated endlessly. But moving away from the schizophrenic lives of most of the employees, the lack of employee enrichment, the core issue is does a BPO finally helps to make a customer’s life easier ? Or are we being guilty of over-complicating operations, and getting carried away with technology.

Tell you what, I’d prefer the florist every time.

P.S Someone did finally call me from an agency which services Worldspace, argued that my Worldspace got damaged before the rains hit, and now wants to strike a deal with me to split the repair costs as Worldspace doesn’t apparently cover him for it. I told him to send me flowers instead.