Boat ride at “Ranganathittu”

April, 2018

Team SCS&A began this financial year with a short break to recoup, rejuvenate and refresh ourselves. We spent time in a neighbouring city that is known for palaces, museums, bird sanctuary, mother nature, clean roads and hospitable people. As you put together your budget estimates and market strategies for this financial year, I thought I will share with you a small insight into customer feedback that I carry from this visit.

My conversation with the boatman in Ranganathittu bird sanctuary went somewhat like this……..
I : How much does the boat ride cost ?
He : Madam, normal ride for 20 mins costs Rs. 70 per person. Longer ride for 40 mins around all the grooves costs Rs. 1500 per person and only 5 people in this.
I : Whaaat ? why so much difference ? 2,3, 5 times is ok but why 20 times ?
He : What can I say madam ? This is what Govt. has fixed and I have to follow the rules.
I : I see that except for some couples who want privacy no one else is using the long ride. The moment you say 1500, people are opting for the 70 ride. Is it not a loss for the Govt. ?
He : Yes, I know but what can I do madam ?
I : Why can’t you give this customer feedback to your higher ups ? You are at the ground level dealing with people and you know best what is their response. Tourism department must know this and refix the price.
He : Ayyo, no madam. I will lose my job if I give this feedback. Do you think sahebru (Sir) will listen to a low level boatman like me ? These decisions are taken by IAS officers. He will say “Yeno, neenu nannage helo ange aagbitya?” …………..meaning “what, have you also become competent enough to tell me?”

I was taken aback to hear his reply though I was not shocked, knowing our Indian hierarchical mentality, especially the bureaucracy which has the ‘know it all’ attitude (at least most of them) ! Should the tourism department not gather ground level information from the actual service providers like the boatman and the ticket seller ? where is the question of ego when today every parent and grandparent is rushing to his child / grandchild to help them with using the mobile apps, social media etc. ? when almost every CEO is making sure to spend time with the shopfloor employee or the entry level coder or the delivery boy or the sales representative or the store assistant to understand what the customer wants, what the market is saying, what changes need to be made to the product or service and how to enhance customer experience ? Direct interaction with the customer-facing employees, despite all available analytical tools and data is one of the best ways to keep your ears to the ground. Not only do you get unfiltered information, you also boost the morale of the employees which mere incentives cannot do.

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