Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ICICI's Token Box

I had visited ICICI bank to get a bank statement and a letter confirming that I held an account with ICICI. I walked into ICICI and approached a counter that was free and explained what I needed. The bank executive moved his hand in the general direction of the entrance and explained that I had to collect a token from a machine and wait for my turn. I said thanks and went looking for this machine. Now, I didn't want to seem like a person who wouldn't know what this machine would look like. I looked around discreetly. I saw a screen displaying token numbers and counter numbers. I saw a phone hung on a wall and another screen. I was standing right in front of this maroon color box. It looked like a box you drop cheques and so on into. I looked around once more, hoping to find this machine. I noticed that a few people hurriedly pressed few buttons on the maroon box and hastily grabbed the slip that popped out. I had managed to find the machine!

I needed time to look at the machine to figure out what I needed to do. So while I was standing and trying to figure this out, several hands sneaked in to collect tokens. Let me try and explain this box... ahem, machine. (unfortunately, there was a big notice warning me against clicking a snap) In the middle of the box, there was a tiny digital screen that displayed the status. Below this was a number pad (1-7) and below these were the buttons: cancel, gold customer, customer and non-customer. On the left panel, there was a piece of paper that listed what pressing each number meant. I read this list several times but was unable to find a suitable category for my task. I decided to go with 6 which was for account related activities such as fixed deposits. Now, I just had to feed in my choice. Oops.... Do I type in my identity as a customer first or the task? I was not sure. I asked a man standing waiting to gather a token. He asked me to type in the number first and then customer. I did as told. On the digital screen, the message 'This service is not available' appeared. A slip slid out from the right panel. I picked this up and saw NA written on it. Assuming that the task had failed, I did the same thing again and got the same message. The kind man who had helped me earlier stepped up and said look at the slip, it displays a token number. I opened the slip that I had crushed in my hand. Oh yeah! There it was CS522. I handed the other token to the man and thanked him. I sat down to wait for my turn. I observed that everyone got the same message. Meanwhile, an ICICI executive came and stood next to the box. I asked her why it displays this message. She smiled apologetically and said that's the way it is! Brilliant.

Kern also offers usability. I was just thinking about how our team of usability experts would have reacted to this machine. It was a nightmare! The token system is very useful, no doubt. But, this machine is dreadful!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Communicating with a Client

Client interaction is a skill that you need to master. Atleast, this is what I did. When I first joined this community, I would just observe the emails, the tones, and the discussions. I would ask my mentor, Geeta, what kind of information can we share. Over a period of time, I think I have a better understanding of what is expected.

  1. Build a rapport with your client.
  2. Always start a conversation by greeting them warming and exchanging pleasantries.
  3. Identify very clearly what information you can divulge with your client and what you must withhold.
  4. Be honest and sincere always. Your client will appreciate this.
  5. Act and believe that you are the expert in your field. You know your stuff.
  6. Be formal, but warm or friendly.
  7. Always remain cool even in volatile situations.
  8. If you are unsure or you need to consult someone before you make a decision, let your client know that you need sometime and that you will get back to them as soon as you can.
  9. Make sure that you keep appointments. If your client requires weekly updates at 10:00 every Monday morning, ensure that you do this even if you have nothing new to share.
  10. Always acknowledge the client's mails. If you receive feedback, always thank them for their inputs.
  11. Greet them on festivals regardless of whether you are working on a project with them currently.
  12. Ensure that you send a deliverable on time. If a delay is inevitable, inform the client and apologize for this.
  1. Don't be over-friendly or overly familiar with your client.
  2. Don't butter or use flowery language to make a positive impression.
  3. Don't be too impersonal and detached.
  4. Do not overreact to a request made by the client.
  5. Do not spit venom at your client in tough situations.
  6. Do not prevaricate or lie to your client.
  7. Do not avoid or ignore phone calls or mails.
  8. Don't agree or disagree with everything. Remember to use logic to back up every decision.