Tag Archives: customer

The Chaos – 3

“I am very busy today. I need to wait for the chairman’s call on my intercom, so I can’t really get up from my seat whole day today”

 “Hope the chairman does not call me today between 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm when Rahukal will be on”

 “I have been told to wait until 9pm this saturday…he will call me for a personal meeting”

 “I have asked the telecom guys to divert the incoming calls to my office intercom on to my mobile phone…so in this way I need not always sit in the chamber while waiting for the call of the chairman”

 Such dialogues kept sprouting from CEO’s mouth for more than a week. I did sense the frustration and helplessness which most of the times quickly transformed into anger. He was always in an irritable mood, but, at the same time, tried his level best to be in convivial mood. Most of the times, anger got the better of him. He started having very less official interactions with the factory.

+++++

The ants had become completely silent these days. VN (the ants’ leader) and his colleagues were very increasingly becoming worried and stressed due to the tug-of-war between VP and CEO. VN has always been obliging both sides with free information. While CEO thought that VN is loyal to him, the recent episodes of leaking of information to the factory have made CEO very alert. So these days the ants have been on the receiving end of CEO’s anger.

+++++

There was an overseas customer visit. VP usually accompanies B if the customer meeting happens in the office. This time, I learned, that VP had been told not to come. Only B came. is VP being kept away from sales and marketing? if true, this is a positive development.

Another pleasant surprise was in store!. I was also called to join the meeting with the customer. I did provide security to B by talking minimally in the meeting. Later in the evening, I was told to come to the party on that evening, planned for the visiting customer.

+++++

Then finally, the expected call came. CEO was told to meet the Chairman, but not alone, but along with the VP. VP came down from the factory the next day. CEO read the Hanuman Chalisa (a devotional verse on Lord Hanuman) more than once. Before going for the meeting, the VP called me to discuss about some unfinished, ongoing tasks. For the first time (since the day of joining), he started the conversation with “Good afternoon..hope you are getting quick replies from the factory these days….if there is anything pending, please bring into my attention”. Surprises’ Galore! There was a flavour of love and affection in his voice.

why is the change? does he want me on his side? or is it a reaction out of fear that CEO may win the war? Or is it the showing-off of quite confidence that he will emerge stronger from this shake-up ?

+++++

There were many rumours around what happened in the mega meeting. I had no way of knowing the facts. Two main players involved – CEO and VP – had differing versions. Obviously, no one can go and ask to other two participants – (tea drinking) Director and the chairman. Let me only present those which I think were facts or near facts (at the time of writing this) :-

(1)     The purchasing manager was told to continue reporting on buying decisions to VP. So CEO’s attempts to influence purchasing decisions in a big way have failed.

(2)     The proposed tour of CEO to USA and the Latin America was cancelled without any clear reasoning.

(3)     I started getting frequent phone calls from the VP and the conversations are becoming more and more cordial

(4)     The Ants have less and less interactions these days with me.

(5)     The Cartel’s reaction to Chaos is yet unknown.

+++++

 When I met the CEO on the subsequent day to the meeting with the Chairman, his body language was diffident. He did not reveal any details about the “big” meeting. I did not want to look inquisitive. It was within my functional domain to ask about his cancellation of the proposed trip to US. His answer was very evasive. It went something like this – “tongues will wag if I travel now…already the impression is that I just travel overseas for the heck of it….whatever work started have to be finished…so let me give it a miss this time… “  The sentences he uttered had everything in it – disppointment, agony, anger and revenge feeling  – except of course the coherence, which was missing. Licking his wounds?

+++++

 chaos

noun
chaoses, plural

  1. Complete disorder and confusion
  2. Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions

 

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Morning Star

The mornings have become colder than the normal this winter.

The wife feels a mild stress in the winter nights, thinking that she may not hear the mobile alarm ringing at 5.30 in the morning. Poor thing, she has to pack lunch for both Kids and has to make the younger kid take bath and dress up. The kids have to leave for school at 7.30am.

What happens is – invariably she gets up 30 minutes later than the alarm time which she sets up. Her argument is that once the alarm rings, she will be awake but would still like to continue to sleep in a semi-sleep and semi-awake state for a while before jump out of bed.

The elder kid is very duty conscious, so as soon as her mother calls her name affectionately, she gets up with no signs of grogginess due to abrupt awakening. Within no time, she is ready in her school uniform. The younger kid needs to be in sleep-inertia for about 10-15 minutes – just like the mother – before she enters the bathroom for brushing the teeth.

I suffer from Insomnia these days. Unusually, I remain awake till wee hours. Most of the nights either I sit in front of TV or read books or watch movies on my computer. Even after I go to bed, I don’t start sleeping immediately. Because of this, I tend to sleep extra in the morning forcing my wife to be on her own in her morning chores. The wife goes to the road-end to leave the kids in their respective school buses. On her way, she would pick-up milk packets. She would wake me up with coffee in her hands.

The day morosely starts with a bed-coffee. Morning coffee used to energize me before. Not any more. Coffee drinking has just become a habit. I do not completely enjoy the Coffee drinking experience.

The wife then will bring the newspapers to the bed. I shall look at the pages on the newspaper and will not read them. Just a quick browsing of headlines and I am done with it. The wife will try to have a small talk but my mind will not register anything.

By this time, I would have checked my emails on the mobile phone several times. Most of the days, there would be no mails in the morning time. Immediately, the mind will get into the worrying mode – why X customer did not reply to my offer yet? Why no more purchase enquiries from Canadian customer? Etc…This worry series will lead me to thinking about characters of my company…..will CEO just use me as a pawn to justify his failures? Will VP be laughing behind me on seeing my obstacles to good business? ….all unnecessary thinking…worrying….craving for intended outcomes….seeking only successful outcomes….

Is there any strength in seeking only successful outcomes? The strength lies in how we face the various outcomes – intended / unintended, positive / negative – with equal attitude. If one has seen only success all along, then he might not have any opportunity to get himself trained on how to face defeats and setbacks gracefully. The gracelessness leads men to be desperate without caring for fair means. The strength lies only in Grace with which we face life and its events.

Gracefulness is acquired from living with joy in the present and not losing oneself in thoughts constantly – in those thoughts which either make us feel guilty about the past or worry about the un-arrived future.

Mindfulness is a wonderful term used in Buddhism. I really like this word for its apt description of the state in which we all should live always. Consistent mindfulness practice leads us to the state of grace.

If I was mindful (and resultantly graceful ) – I would have slept at the same time as my loved ones. I would have woken up joyfully by the time my lovely kids walk out of home to go to school. I would have completely enjoyed the taste of coffee prepared my beloved wife (after brushing my teeth!).

***********

I was afflicted with morning sullenness that day also. The expected Purchase order from Spain did not arrive on email the previous night. I was stressed out as to how I would explain this to CEO – who has been pressurizing me for more than a week now. Another new customer – the colour extracting company – did not grant me the meeting which I wanted that day. I was to leave for the meeting directly from home in the morning. The customer SMSed me at about 8am that he cannot see me. Ufff…I need to go to office only in the morning….this fact tired me instantly…..Wife asked “why do u always keep your face so stiff whenever you leave for office?” I did not reply her as I left home for office.

I entered the office not in a cheery disposition. The ants who saw me entering did not wish me. They pretended to be busy while noticing me entering the chamber. After keeping the lunch bag, I noticed that….a fax document lying on my clean desk….It was the PO which I expected to receive on email. It has come on fax. My heaviness flew out in seconds and I was feeling light……I took the fax document and came out…two ants wished me in Chorus – Congratulations sir!

Day 21 – Email wars.

XYZ corp issue will have to wait for a while, as I would like to see how the events unfold eventually.

I started focusing seriously on work. To my delight, the potential customers showed interest in our company. In a matter of few days, more than 10 purchase enquiries piled up.

Now the question is who will be my sales support. The complete sales support framework is missing. How do I get started?

One of my ex-bosses used to say there is a power in the written word. He always used to suggest that if guys do not respond well over phone, then emails and letters work like magic.

Started mailing to practically everyone in the company – VP, Mr.B, Production, QA, Supply chain. All mails copied to CEO as well. While I rattled out emails busily, no replies were forthcoming.

It is in my nature to lose patience quickly. But this time I decided not to give-in. So I decided to reach out to B (the sales colleague who is based in the factory) and seek his assistance. On day 19, I called him up more than twenty times on phone. Not even once the phone was answered. At around 6.30 pm, B called me back apologizing profusely for not being in a position to call back earlier. I asked him if he was tied up with some important work. He said whole day VP kept him busy for nothing. On day 20, I did not contact him much and restricted the calls to only thrice. No reply as usual. But this time he was really nice and he emailed to say that he will reply on pricing etc on day 21.

Today, I anticipate costings, specifications, replies on technical clarification sought by customers, etc.

At around 3 pm, one by one, the mails started pouring in – from B as well as from VP.

“We have unsold stocks of 700 tonnes (produced in 2007) which need to be cleared off. Can you please do the needful?”

“We had produced some stocks for customer 123, and he did not lift it yet even after 1 year. The order got cancelled last week. Do you have any buyers for it?”

“We have a contract to buy 600 tonnes raw material from a producer by the end of next week. Can you find customers for the end product in next two days”

Emails were coming in at good speed. I mailed them back asking replies for my customer enquiries. I got out of office messages from both.

What is the message being conveyed here? That Do not expect replies and support for your new sales initiatives? Or do not go so fast and we are not ready yet? Or is it B’s insecurity showing up? If it is B’s insecurity, why is VP backing him up?…hmm… too many questions to ponder on!  Food-for-thought ? or sure-fire way to lose motivation?

Day 15

Excerpts from a phone conversation

–         Saw the mail from XYZ corp. How much volume are they talking?

–         They are ready to lift 50 tonnes at our price, subject ofcourse to approval of the factory. They would like to visit us.

–         Hmmm…no issues…but we do not want to be taken for a ride!

–         I’m not sure I follow, how can we be taken for a ride in this?

–         It has happened in the past, where the customers have visited us, but never bought anything after they left.

–         That means they did not approve our facilities.

–         Remember that you have to have eye in your head while talking to me (What is the meaning of this expression? I have never heard it before)

–         Hmmmm

–         Are you clear?

–         Should I tell the customer that they cannot visit us and they have to buy without seeing the factory?

–         Listen…you are not allowing me to talk.

–          ??

–        There is no harm in having them visit the factory. But we should make sure they buy good volumes.

–        As I said earlier, this customer buys in excess of 2000 tonnes from the industry. The list of items and quantity they buy is already with us which I have shared with you. If you want, I can ask them to send an email confirming all the items they are interested to procure from us.

–     no..no..no….dont do that….we may not be in a position to do all the items they buy.

–     then what should I tell them?

–     See I have no issues in talking to them…but 50 tonnes is nothing. MNO corp wanted 3000 tonnes, we said we can give only 500 tonnes.

–     Ok, then let me tell them they can’t see the factory and 50 tonnes is too less.

–     no. You are hurrying again. I have no issue with 50 tonnes….but the price they give is less….see we have negotiated so well with MNO corp and got a good rate.

–     I have quoted Rs 5 per kilo more than that, sir.

–     yeah yeah….tell them 50 tonnes is too less.

–     But I understand that we will not be able to produce the full qty of what we agreed with MNO, this 50 tonnes we have offered only because XYZ is ready to pay better price….

–      is it?  We should be talking to big guys.

–      XYZ is the largest wholesaler with national distribution in USA. You can check about them in the market. You will know.

–      Yeah I know…I know them very well….They are based in London. I know.

–       No sir, they are in New York.

–       Yeah yeah you are right.

–       I dont understand why they want to visit the factory. All these buyers are silly. They waste our time and energy.

–       Let me tell them then we are not interested.

–  You are hurrying…..I have no issue….am I making myself clear (Note : all his favourite phrases! He has uttered them in one go!)

–          ??

– Do one thing! Talk to VP and then let me know what he says. I am about to board the flight. I am headed to Bangalore for a lunch with Jt.Secretary.

I then dialed the factory to talk to VP.  The operator told me that he has gone to attend a “mundan” ceremony of one of the staffs’ son. It took sometime to collect my thoughts. What should be the line of action now?

I am not hurrying. I have no issue. It is clear that I am going to continue reading the e-Book that I was reading earlier (before I received the call from the CEO!).