It’s our last day in Delhi as a group. It doesn’t seem like very long but the way the trip split between traveling with Justin and then joining the group makes it seem like two distinct trips. We have one more lunch meeting at another Taj hotel in Delhi before we head to the airport to fly down to Pune for the next leg of our trip.
Our professor lined up what turned out to be a great meeting with a senior executive from DSCL. DSCL has operations in Chloro-Vinyl, agri-sectors and an assortment of value added businesses. They used to be a part of a larger, family owned conglomerate before the business was divided up into smaller units.
Our speaker described the liberalization of India’s economy in the early 90’s and opening up of India’s markets to international competition. Without competition there was never reason to look outside the firm for forward thinking strategy. Corporate strategy was driven more by government licenses, limited competition and a lifetime employment policy similar to Japan’s. Our speaker explained that while companies in the U.S. were taking entrepreneurial risks, Indian companies were much more conservatively run, often focusing more on hedging and controlling risks.
Overcoming the challenges of getting tossed out into the global mix of corporate competition was an enormous challenge. I wasn’t shocked to hear that they incorporated the use of large consulting firms. Actually, I think we were all extremely impressed by the size and variety of the firms they employed. It seems that at one time or other DSCL has utilized every top consulting firm in the world to help them become swift, sleek, outward looking and customer oriented through IT best practices and organization building. It was like a history lesson hearing how DSCL positioned itself for growth and global competition.
DSCL’s customer centric strategy is evident in its Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar initiative. Here is this enormous company that manufactures various agri-business products used across India and they also have over 300 bazaars that sell their agricultural products as well as other consumer goods to customers throughout India. Imagine if Monsanto or Cargill decided to have stores throughout America where they sold their products and staffed the stores with crop science experts to help farmers cultivate the best crops possible. This idea has had a revolutionary impact on India’s farming capacity.
The last item I found extremely fascinating during our speaker’s talk was his emphasis on the importance of relationships in India. In so much of the rest of the world the phrase, “its not personal, its business” seems to be the norm. In India, it’s exactly the opposite. Business relationships in India mirror family-like interactions regardless of whether its between a customer, supplier, employee or shareholder.
Okay, well that’s the longest I’ve typed in my blog without mentioning some crazy interaction with a wild animal or form of transportation that is smaller than me.
After our meeting with DSCL we headed to the airport for our flight down to Pune.
Jet Airways Flight 234: “Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby.”
Pune Air Boss: “That’s a negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.”
That didn’t stop our “pilot” from making not one but two passes. The first time we tried to land we got down to about 150 ft and he throttled up out of nowhere, a little unnerving to say the least. After we came around and tried to land again with the same result I started handwriting a will and looking for a notary public. God forbid my baseball card collection and $287 Roth IRA get tied up in some sort of estate legal battle. We finally landed on the third try to a thundering round of applause from the Smith crew. To no surprise our pilot in training did not step outside the cockpit as we exited to say thanks.
Late night trip to a call center
We boarded a bus for the hotel with just enough time to grab dinner up on the roof deck before heading to a Convergys facility. Our instructor told us a while back that you couldn’t come to India and not visit a call center. I was surprised to find out that Convergys is much more than just a warehouse full of phone operators. We met with some senior managers who took us through the relationship management competencies that make Convergys a global leader in client/customer management. More than half of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies are Convergys clients. Convergys works closely to specially train each representative to specifically work for individual clients.
Walking through the center it was incredible to observe all of the interactions simultaneously taking place. During our host’s presentation we learned about some of the techniques Convergys uses to tailor how they handle calls for each client. For example, we all know the guy on the other end of the line who introduced himself as “Mike” is more likely named “Mandeep.” This isn’t to appear more Western, it’s to move the conversation along and better serve the customer. Instead of spending 40 seconds explaining a Hindu name that roughly translates as “light of the mind” to a client’s customer they can get down to solving problems.
Tomorrow we’re meeting with Tata Ryerson and Ashraya Initiative.