Day 100 – Learning to Adapt

It is now 100 days since the #Covid19 lockdown first began in India.

A lot has happened since then…

We learned to #WFH, and to cope with the “new normal”.

We dealt with Technology challenges, and tried to find a quiet space in our homes – with a charging point nearby.

We coped with ever-changing rules and regulations in our cities, while running out of essentials in our neighbourhoods.

We managed year-end performance appraisals and organizational restructurings. And downsizings.

We learnt to celebrate our special occasions on Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls.

What most of us thought would only last weeks, is running well into the second-half of 2020.

But, we are coping. And learning. And thriving.

Yes, every situation is unique. Every city has its own problems. Every country is struggling to deal with the pandemic in its own ways.

Yes, the harshness (and necessity) of the #lockdown in India may not quite compare with that in Sweden or New Zealand.

But, we humans have an almost infinite capacity to adjust… and adapt.

So, we adapt, we must…

I am grateful to have a team at work that is committed and capable – it makes my day go a little bit easier.

I am grateful for the love and support of my family – it helps me keep the faith.

Day 28 – The Fight Continues

It’s only been a few months since I took up a new role at Aegon Life. Just a couple of weeks after joining Aegon, India launched a strict #lockdown protocol in response to the #Covid19 pandemic. Originally meant to last 21 days, it has now been extended in its second phase.

When the office moved to a work-from-home setup, I began a series of emails to address the extended team every week or so. The idea was to engage with them, thank them (and their families) for their continued dedication and hard work, and share with them helpful information from time to time.

Covid-19 is surely making a significant impact on India and the world. And, will probably change dynamics for a long time to come. But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. Does it?

Here are a few links from my emails that you may also find useful…

Lessons from Covid-19 that can make the world a better place:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/view-lessons-from-covid-19-can-make-the-world-a-better-place/articleshow/75130671.cms

5 critical money lessons taught by the Covid-19 crisis:

https://www.financialexpress.com/money/5-critical-money-lessons-taught-by-the-covid-19-crisis/1934945/

Last week, the world also saw a global virtual concert in support of the WHO that featured performances from multiple celebrities and has raised over $127Mn. You may be able to view it online if you missed the broadcast. Alternatively, try this link:

https://www.voot.com/shows/one-world-together-at-home/1/936639/a-global-salute-to-the-real-heroes/936885

And, 8 Lessons from the Army on Leading Remotely during a Lockdown:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/leading-remotely-lessons-from-the-army-120040200301_1.html

We are all learning to navigate the “new normal”. And it’s hard to stay cooped-up inside the house (especially in the India context), deal with daily home needs, and continue to deliver on work.

If you can find some ways to make it easier for the folks you interact with, I’d strongly urge you to do so.

We could all do with a helping hand, especially in times of crisis. Let’s do our best to help out those we can. Shall we?

What Really Matters

Every business acknowledges that the reason for their existence is the Customer. Every business wants to design products and services that are meant to address their customers’ needs. Yet, almost every business struggles to understand what their customers really want from them.

Is it any wonder that billions are spent worldwide in trying to gauge the truth of the matter, via interactions driven by focused groups and metrics like C-SAT and NPS? To make matters worse, in this Age of Digital and A.I., the “Customer” is also ever evolving!

How do you make sense of it all? 

Yes, customers do exhibit different personalities and needs. But, there are a few insights and common traits that can help most businesses get going.

Here are some of my learnings…

In the India context, it helps to keep in mind that the first 100 Mn Digital Consumers were Younger, More Urban, More Men, More Desktop, while the last 100 Mn are relatively Older, More Rural, More Women, More Mobile.

That said, customers all over the world are figuring out how they can leverage the abundance of Technology that now comes embedded in most platforms, products and services.

They want more and more to happen via Digital channels, so they can access it On-The-Go.

They want lesser clicks, faster page loads, shorter queues, reduced turnaround times, smaller forms.

They want more self-service options (Starbucks?), and want less IVRS interactions (Your call is important to us…?).

In other words, they want their interactions with your brand to be relevant, useful and enjoyable.

Oh, and thanks to online forums, reviews, ratings, and social media exchanges, they probably know more about your product or service than your Sales agent does!

Keep these factors in mind when trying to improve relevance of your offerings, instead of simply believing “you know what’s best for them”. And, don’t leave any opportunity to talk to a real customer – to listen to what really matters to them.

After all, there is just no substitute for a real conversation.