Thinking inside the box – quality assurance for online shopping

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How often have your received a shipment from your “favourite” online store, that you want to return in a hurry?

And how often does this happen to me? At least four times, out of ten.

And these are leading online portals that I’m talking about. I’ve been sent shoes with their tongues sticking out and hanging by a thread, brand new books that arrived dog-eared, and painting canvases that were wrapped in old newspaper.

Getting rid of products gathering dust at a brick & mortar store is a strong temptation for rogue shippers – and they will do this as often as they can get away with it. Bound to happen when a portal offers its shopping interface to other sellers, and is not directly part of the sourcing or shipping process.

So how can you weed out the worms and keep the system clean? I don’t have an insider’s perspective on this, but administrators of these portals could have stringent measures in place that filter deliveries that deviate from the norm. In a sense, you do have a rating system these days, with actually customer comments and feedback – but what about the ones not featured in the rogues’ gallery?

More on this story on my Linkedin page >
Surprise package from online seller

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Did you go on that vacation, last year?

People need to take their breaks from busy work schedules – as often as they can, and as often as they can afford to. Sounds exciting, but can be difficult if you’re in a high-pressure job or part of a team that has key deliverables right through the year. But I’m sure most of us can take that annual vacation to get away from regular work, and enjoy the outdoors – the wilderness beckons.

But from what I have seen, many people either choose not to go, or find some trivial excuse to give that vacation a miss. A vacation can work wonders, in terms of revitalizing your entire being – your mind, body and soul. You come back refreshed, and you come back wrinkle-free and smiling ear to ear.

Source: Q&A: Talking to Arathi Venkatesh of Bangalore

What’s your customer saying about you?

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Just found a group on facebook set up by irate customers of a taxicab service in Bangalore – it already has 400 members. If I were connected with customer support at the company, I would probably join this group to listen to their side of the story. If you jump in early, you might even help prevent serious action from customers who have probably tried other avenues to seek help or redressal.

It’s not going to be easy because you become a sitting duck, straight away. On facebook, you may not hear angry decibels, but you’re right in the middle of missiles flying in from all directions. Use the comment interface on the group to respond to queries or complaints. Always give a fair and honest response, even though you may not be able to handle all complaints at one go.

In a situation like this, you need active support from your organization, with a process in place to react quickly and constructively. You also need a corrective mechanism that can address each complaint in a fair and responsible manner.

The number on this group when I last checked was around 400. With a digital implosion, this figure could soon grow to 4000 – maybe more. Bringing together other people having issues with cab services in general, and angry enough to take a pot shot at anybody – beginning with you.

For a start just place one ear (at least) to the ground and see if you can detect any rumblings around your service or brand. If you do, say a small prayer and get into rescue mode – sooner than later.

Image (c) sharath bhat

Sharath Bhat also blogs at http://www.bigontalent.inhttp://www.laffetaria.com

What young vacation seekers say about timeshare . . .

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For my monthly Q&A interview on the AIRDA website, I spoke to a young group of vacation seekers about timeshare benefits and features. They gave me some very useful feedback, on planning your vacation, splitting your week into shorter getaways and upgrading your allotted facility to a higher plan or accommodation. They also talked about the one thing that adds the icing on the cake during a holiday – FOOD.

If you’re interested in timeshare, you’ll find useful tips in this
interview >>