Guest Lectures: A Crash Course On Successful Approaches By Industry Leaders

Guest Lectures
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Guest Lectures: A Crash Course On Successful Approaches By Industry Leaders

Any job we take up after graduation loses its novelty after a while and this was one of the reasons why I decided to go for an MBA. It has been three months exactly since I joined IIM Nagpur. In these three months, I have attended more than twelve guest sessions, conducted by the likes of HR Head, Marketing Head, Operations Head, Strategy Head, Analytics experts, and even finance experts associated with well-known organizations. You might think, how is that not monotonous? Anyone might get bored after 3-4 sessions. But believe me when I say, it is worth spending each minute of those sessions listening to their valuable experiences.

We do have YouTube and other resources for information, but since ages, it has been said that the practical way of attaining knowledge always works better than the theoretical one. To give an example, until a month ago, I had no idea about what to choose as my specialization. Now I can say that I have formed a pretty decent idea about which areas I need to explore further. The exposure to various functions has improved my understanding and I have been able to apply elimination tactics to arrive at some focus areas. This is the extent to which these sessions, even in such a short duration, can be of great help.

People say there is no age limit for learning, and when successful people come and tell you how, even after working for 20 years, they are still learning new things every day, it reinforces the idea of learning further. Do you know that in any organization a good EQ is considered better than a good IQ? Research says women tend to have better EQ than men. As per an MHRD report, the female literacy rate in India is 56.8%, then why do only 23.3% of women work in an organization? One of the sessions forced me to ponder on this. Some reasons are consistent since medieval ages, but this needs to be changed. I never realized earlier that the annual report of a company could offer such valuable information about its performance. Had I known this earlier, I could have helped my father avoid some risky investment decisions that failed to yield returns. While that is in the past, I am certain now that our future decisions will be much more informed.

The guest sessions at IIM Nagpur have opened many avenues of new knowledge for us. I have learned that the oft-quoted re-skilling of employees does not work since change and adaptability are often only in the mind of the individual. You must have come across that YouTube ad that claims that ‘data is the new oil’. We have learned just how valuable data has become and will continue to be, in the coming decade.
We often chase an ultimate goal, but I believe that it is the journey that should be given more importance. The industry leaders who visit the IIMN campus share the journeys that have taken them to their current heights, and their experiences are a goldmine for management students. So, even if we have to sometimes sacrifice our Saturdays and Sundays for these sessions, the insights we derive from those are every bit worth it!

This article has been published by InsideIIM.

Field Immersion with KOEL – Touching the Lower-End Customer Segment’s Psyche

In December 2018, almost the same time last year, I was working on my field immersion module with the after-sales and service department of Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited (KOEL) – an outsourced organization and KOEL’s official partner. The Field Immersion module at IIM Nagpur is one of Institute’s flagship offerings and part of the core curriculum in the two year MBA programme.

The broad level problem statement on which I was working was to devise a strategy to bring back the company’s out-of-fold customers. Once an AMC expired after the first purchase, a good percentage of the customers either ignored renewing the AMCs on time or else chose to go for local after-sales service providers and not the authorized dealers. This led to a decline in revenue from the after-sales servicing channel. The experience while working on this problem statement in itself was quite interesting because, as a part of market research we had to understand consumer behavior, their preferences, and understand the reasons on the basis of which they preferred local unauthorized dealers and not the contract-based authorized ones. We conducted research among more than 300+ customers and analyzed the possible factors that stood out as prominent reasons during the research.

We were expecting some strong technically grounded reasons behind the decline, or maybe, poor servicing quality from the authorized dealers, but surprisingly, what came in as a core reason was just poor back-end customer relationship management. Even front-end CRM was highly satisfying but that back-end support in terms of informing customers on time about expiration, casual calls for some greetings occasionally, updating them with new offerings regularly, even if their AMCs are intact; neglecting such smaller, personalized aspects led to a fall in customer base. I will bring in the concept of individual or one-to-one marketing once again. When we talked to the customers, many of them were delighted that they were having someone from the company’s side; some research also gave insights that many customers haven’t been contacted for more than five years. Another issue that came up during the research was that the back-end database wasn’t updated with changes in customers’ current possessives. This further led to a mismatch between customers’ expectations and the efforts/direction in which the back-end, as well as front-end servicing teams were focused.

Eventually, by the end of the third week, we completed six pilot projects and brought back all the six out-of-fold customers. Based on the same framework that we applied in our pilot projects, we prepared a document that contained the devised customer relationship best practices and a framework to keep the cycle intact so that the company doesn’t lose sight of their customers. In a nutshell, my FIM experience offered me learning on how to handle customer segments that fall into a category where most of the owners and decision-makers are usually less educated and henceforth, to sell more in that segment, touching their psyche is a must.