Thursday, August 24, 2006

ManUtd - Did you write them off too?

I was reading a post in Soccerlens sometime back about how Everyone want to kick ManUtd.
I couldn't agree with it more and I posted my 2 cents on Blogfc.

My point was, in the last few years ManUtd hasn't started well and had lost points to the lower placed teams. As such inspite of a spirited comeback at the end of the season, they seldom manage to overtake the leader. While the season is only 2 games old, the current team is playing some good football - better than the likes of Liverpool and Chelski. Liverpool are supposed to the prime title contender to Chelski this season - the bets have been revised in their favour. Their matches in the premiership and the champions league qualifiers haven't quite convinced everyone yet. And a lot us are happy that Chelski lost inspite of their star-studded team so early in the season. I'm sure Mour-the-Bore would have an excellent reason...erm 'excuse' actually. Maybe its all due to Ashley Cole not coming in and Bridge playing at left back. Whatever!

So while its way too early to predict a winner, the start looks promising and I guess all football fans would love to have a close finish at the end of the season. And we ManUtd fans have been waiting for the cup to come back to Old Trafford.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Go with the flow

My brother passed this on to me and I think you guys should watch this too. Nice video!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Independence Day


Monday, August 14, 2006

The call

I had posted earlier about my experiences with outsourcing while I was home in Toronto. Here's a new one to the list.

A couple of friends and I were planning a Vegas trip a few weeks back. Somehow the web thingy wasn't going through and we also had a few questions. So we decided to call the websites. The first one we called was Travelocity.
Agent: Hi, thank you for calling Travelocity. My name is XXXXX. How may I help you?
Me: Actually we were looking at the Sahara and there's this room we are getting for $$$. Unfortunately we are not able to book it online.
Agent: Do you want me to book it sir?
Me: Why else, do you think I'm calling you?
Agent: Let me have a look at it.
Agent: You can't book it.
Me: I can't? Why?
Agent: It's sold out.
Me: It's sold out? How can that be? Your website still has it listed.
Agent: No sir, it's sold out.
Me: Ok, in that case, could you suggest an alternate hotel for the same price? And one more thing, we want it on the Vegas Strip.
Agent: We have the Wild Wild West and...
Me: That's not on the strip
Agent: Yes it is sir.
Me: Do you know what the Vegas strip is?
Agent: We have a room in the Wild Wild West...
Me: Go on. We said no to that already.
Agent: We have a room at the Vene-ti-cian (it's actually the Venetian) but it's going to cost you $$$ more.
Me: We don't want it then. (The call's on loudspeaker and everyone's in splits by now)
Agent: ......
This call goes on for a few more minutes and all of us in the room are frustrated by the end of it. We tell him a curt goodbye and hangup.

We decide to call and give it a last try.
Agent: Hi, thank you for calling My name is XXXXX. How may I help you?
Me: Actually we were looking to book a room in Vegas. We were looking for one on the Strip. Our budget is $$$.
Agent: We have rooms in Circus Circus and Sahara. You would have the mono-rail from Sahara as well. It's going to cost you $$$ ($10 higher than the Travelocity quote). Do you want me to book you there?
Me: Yes please. At the Sahara.
Agent: Could you give your credit card number?....
This call took exactly 5 minutes and we had our room booked.

Now, lets get to the difference in these 2 calls. The first was an Indian guy who had picked up the phone. And it was quite evident that he had no clue about hotels in Vegas. All he got was his machine telling him the costs. And while I don't have anything against the process, his tone just frustrated us. He just didn't know what to do. His pronunciation was pathetic. He might be an one-off case and it was our unlucky day but to a customer thats the only 'moment of truth'. I'm never going to Travelocity again. And the same goes for anyone who was in the room with me. I remember when I was a part of Tele-Sales, just out of college, I was told one basic thing. Your job is tougher since the person at the other end doesn't see you. So it's just your voice which has to do the trick. So even if you have accent neutralization, your tone still needs to tell the customer that you are getting the best deal for him. Doesn't matter which part of the world you are picking up the phone from. Do I care? No. All I need is my booking to go through and that I spend the least time explaining what I needed to get done.

In the second call, the person was American and his tone put us into ease - that he was going to get it done for us. Moreover, it's also got to do with relevance and experience. If I call an American here and ask him to book me in Coorg, he might have the same problem identifying with it as would an Indian, who has never been to Vegas, identifying with the Vegas Strip.

Bottomline is, irrespective of where you opt to run your business operations from, customer service is something you cannot ever run away from. And that has nothing to do with where you want to run it from. It has everything to do with the attitude and calibre of the person you speak to.

And yes, I did send a mail to Bell following my phone-calls with them in Canada (Blog link is in the beginning of this post). They sent me an email in 2 days telling me that our house phone number would not be called for promotions without our consent. So yes, companies do take it seriously. Maybe our Indian Banks can take a leaf out from Bell and not pain people with repeated phonecalls.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

You live only once

As requested by Mr.D

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The song in my head is...

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I love this one.

Here's the video of the same:

This is the UK version. The US Version is here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

ManUtd: The Season Ahead

I have been a ManUtd fan for quite a few years now and as any other fan I hate it when the team goes through its downs. I was reading a few articles lately and quite a lot has been made about players going out and some coming in. And SAF is usually the scapegoat.

Lets look a few things:

1. The squad and injuries: This season barring some last minute injuries the whole team is fit and ready to go. No one could predict that the Rio Ferdinand would be playing in the mid-field last year could they? When did Van de Sar, Nev, Rio, Vidic and Heinze play all together? So if you look at it, you got a solid back 4 before a good goalie. Everyone knows that midfield is a problem and what we lack is a holding mid-fielder. Other than that if you have Ronaldo, Scholes/Carrick and Giggs forming 3 of the 4 in the midfield, its not that bad at all. In fact its still good. Up in front Saha and Rooney with help from Rossi, Smith and Ole are good enough to pile up a few goals.

2. Transfers: However much we cry, other than Wenger very few managers have been able to get a bargain for a good player. Chelski has bloated the market prices and unfortunately not everyone has deep pockets like Roman. So we have to depend on the fact that coming to ManUtd would help a player get more first team appearances than playing in Chelski. But what we need more than ever is a player in the Keano mould who can take control of the midfield. Striker is a good to have, not the biggest priority. Senna's been in the news lately but I would prefer if SAF got a younger player who would form a part of the core team in the coming years. Else, next season the hunt will start again.
3. The usual problems: If you followed ManUtd over the last few seasons they did two things consistently which didn't help their cause:

a>Poor start to the season, too many draws or near losses

b>Losing points against teams in the bottom five while beating the top five.

If this goes on this season too, they can kiss their chances goodbye.

4. SAF is human: Here's a guy who had got us the treble. He might not be enjoying his last few years I would personally give him this year to bounce back. The team he had in 1999 is difficult to replace and atleast he's laying the foundation for a team as good for the future. We need to understand that since the club became private his hands have got tied. Rooney was our biggest signing before we became private. The fact that Chelski can pick up players at will and at any cost hasn't helped us.

To summarise, ManUtd might not have the depth in reserves as Chelski but we still have it in us to give a bloody good fight to any top team in the world. If injuries are not a problem and we still lose at the end of the season, then a few heads should roll. Till then lets give the team a chance to prove that they have got it in them to be title contenders. Don't write them off even before the season begins! :)

Crossposted at BlogFC


I need to post on the Vegas trip. But I'm waiting for a few pics before I do that. Till then here's a few pics from the road - we passed Utah on the way.