Monday, 9 April 2018

Employee Perspective: Is Customer really “The King”? “

Customers are important factor of market. They have a right to appreciate or criticize your product as per their interest and liking. In some incidences customers think they are the king of the market and their pride takes the brand for granted, which may or may not be true in all cases. On such incidence is sited below:

At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologize for the regrettable incidentwe have also taken action,” IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh wrote regarding one real incident took place on October 15th at the Delhi Airport. 

It started with ground personnel - Juby Thomas asking passenger Rajiv Katiyal not to abuse. The passenger continues to walk towards the shuttle bus and a voice can be heard asking the ground personnel to stop him. After this, Thomas can be seen pulling him out of the coach. Second ground personnel Sahiv Sharma indicates to the bus driver to depart to the airport terminal. A scuffle suddenly breaks out between Thomas and Katiyal. But their video which went viral in social networks doesn't show who made the first move. Sharma tries to restrain the passenger by putting his arms around Katiyal's chest. Katiyal later breaks free from his grip and attack Thomas and grab him around his neck. In the ensuing fight he falls onto the ground, and Thomas is seen with his hand on the passenger's collar bone. 

I am sure, your memory can recollect this infamous IndiGo incident (whose video went viral) of barbaric customer handling few months back. Recently, in one of my marketing lecture, I was explaining concepts of 'Customer Relationship, 'Customer Satisfaction' and 'Customer Delight' sighting this incident. Along with these phrases 'Customer is King' and 'Customer is always right' are widely used terms in business world. 

These philosophies are the top ones in induction training programs for all the new joiners. Even mid to senior level managers in sales and other business functions chant it frequently. Still, such incidents often come in media. So there is a question in mind, Are these metaphors (invented several decades earlier) still powerful & relevant enough in enriching relationship between employee and customer and achieving organizational goals? 

The key person in the market is a customer. Who generates uniquely strong emotion in human mind. Generalization of words like customer in place of people has resulted in low emotional quotient and high materialistic quotient. 

You must remember a scene from Munnabhai MBBS where professor addresses a half dead patient as subject several times in his lecture. Annoyed by this tag, Munnabhai shouts - ' Kya subject-subject laga rakha hai, doesn't he has a name? In the end of the movie, that patient miraculously cured by the care and love shown by Munnabhai. Even legends like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs address their customers as people. Henry Ford once said, 'If I had asked people what they wantthey would have asked for a faster horse.

In a nutshell, Customer is King epitomize customers as someone whose birth right is to exert control and influence the market by making any demands they want, rejecting anything not liked. It still holds true from strategic and marketing perspective as customer has become more fickle minded, provided they have a lot of options available suiting their needs. Steve Jobs once told Business Week,  'a lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.'

But do you think Customer is King metaphor still valid from employee perspective? I would like to show my observations arguing, it has run out of course now, 

In reality it's human, who plays role of a customer and employee simultaneously. Human behavior has gone through sea change over past decades, thanks to technology and associated social revolution. 

As a developing economy, India's 65% (Approx.) of population is young (15-59 years). Most of the urban young population has basic financial stability, and this has made them independent with high self-esteem and risk taking ability, full of aspirations. 

Highly pressurized work environment and rat race for survival has altered employees' behavior considerably. They are now more pruned to short temper, aggressive and so on. 

The paradox is that working for a king also reflects slavery, exploitation, lack of enthusiasm, arrogance and inferiority in mind of employees. It generates fear which compels them to accept the customer as king. 

For an employee, a lot is at stake when he deals with the king. He always carries a feeling of uncertainty that a customer (whom he calls king) is the one deciding his fate. This result in state of mental choking. It creates a dangerous state where an employee working for 10 to 12 hours a day feels strangled for freedom and fresh air. 

This state was visible in the IndiGo incident where a communication brawl turned into a physical assault. The incident has been and must be condemned. But in the end, it was a reaction from three individuals who were in different mental states. However, this philosophy has turned more heat on the employee than on the customer. We must acknowledge that at ground level, a human is interacting with the human. A human who has countless emotional states any moment based on his inner and external stimuli. We need more human philosophy to enhance satisfaction and strengthen the relationship with existing and prospective customers. 

The author of the article is Mr Junaid SiddiquiAssistant Professor in Sigma Institute of Engineering- MBA Program of Sigma Group of Institutes- Vadodara.

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