How to find, build and retain customers?

Followup to the part 1 of the article: How to build a strong team: (by Prasanna Dhungel and Ujwal Thapa)

Part 2: How to find, build and retain customers?

Lets say you have built a strong team, the next logical question is how to find or build customers?
First list out your potential customers . Look from all angles.

 Lets take an example of an online travel booking provider for local motels in the trekking routes of Nepal.

Your potential customers could be:

Customer 1: Local Hotel / Motel owners: (whose place you book)

Customer 2: Guides / Porters (affiliates who guide customers to you)

Customer 3: Travel Agencies (Affiliate and customer both)

Customer 4: Trekkers/ Travelers (direct customer)

Customer 5: Banks ? financial transaction carrying institutions ? (a good ally to process online transaction and serve as a trusted ally to convince your local motel owners)

Now how do you build customers ?

Here are some challenges to answer that question:

Who do you target first ?

The hotel owner because if they don’t use our service, we cannot book the place.  Then maybe trekkers. Travel agencies could use your service while being a competitor by driving hard bargains or figure out their own systems of booking (through mobiles)

Know who influences your customer?

politics/ society/ guides/porters/ online reviewers/ past experiences

How do you build trust among the community ?

word of mouth, a guarantee for travelers, a safety net for hotel owners that money will be duly and surely transferred, safety, security and positive fear that if they don’t use your service they will lose money, status etc.

What kind of product to build?

Smooth Booking to your hotel from online Travel Booking Software,

secure and safe, and with a guarantee.

How do you get feedback and what to do with it ?  

Get feedbacks from each motel in time. Feedbacks can be social media/ online/email too. How you use this to build a better product is the pivotal question. Your customers love you for a product that gets them what they want. And your product improves as you know inside out what your customers want. It is also your responsibility to predict intuitively what your customers would love.

How do you turn each of your customer into a revenue generating mechanism?

How to use your satisfied customers as affiliates, providing respect, thanks, and deals to them to use the service again is extremely important. Repeat customers are best customers.

What value added service can you add to your core -booking system to help your customers?

Maybe turn from booking to even other transactions (buying local goods etc) somehow. A some form of emergency services option also built in ? say if client needs that service and s/he doesn’t have enough cash, s/he can use our service as a guarantee ?

Remember travelers don’t always carry enough money on treks or run out of it.

How to retain customers ?

By doing the things mentioned above consistently.

Do read part 1 of the article: How to build a strong team:

Women and Nepali society

3 years ago a ‘ECS living’ magazine reporter interviewed me on a woman’s role in a modern (21st century) Nepali society. I had all forgotten about it when I recently found its transcript. I found it good enough to share with you. I have edited it for clarity and now am posting it here :)

  • Women are perceived as someone’s daughter, wife or mother in our society. Do you think it is necessary for women to have a separate identity of her own besides being a wife or a mother?

Yes. Women have to forge their unique identity in the world today. Mother/wife/daughter are secondary roles. Any of you can have those. So start following your own path and become that change you seek in the world today.

  • Does religion reinforce the traditional roles of women? How?

Yes and No. If you follow religion to the scriptures (word by word), you might be misguided into accepting traditional rules which is not its intent. If you follow the essence of any religion (what it implies), then you would understand that religion actually provokes women to change the rules of the game, to be proactive and change agent in this world.

  • The patriarchy categorizes certain dos and don’ts for both men and women. For instance, men are the breadwinners in the family and it is women’s responsibility to look after her household chores and her children. Now that even women have become job holders, how does this patriarchal ideology constrict both men and women?

Patriarchal ideology is going to be less and less relevant in Nepal soon. The roles of men and women in a family will be inter-changeable like in many developed countries. The new ideology is inter-changeable, inter-dependence and mutual-responsibility.

  • How does the glamorized avatar of women either benefit or harm her individual identity?

Glamor hurts. Personality rocks !  Glamor is short-lived. Personality is long-lived. Glamor causes jealousy. Personality attracts genuinely. Therefore build your (unique) personality…

  • Women have been objectified since time immemorial. They have been perceived as a housemaid, a sanctuary for legalized sexual satisfaction, an object to conceive and reproduce babies and so on. In the present context, what are the ways women have been often exploited and how can women refute these patriarchal domination.

Build your self-confidence and you will not be played with. In-fact if women only realized and accepted how powerful they actually are, they would find that this society would have no choice but to respect them instead of trying to exploit them.

  • What are the strengths of women in the present context?

In Nepal today, If a man can do it, so can a woman.

  • How can women overcome the prejudices of patriarchy?

Focus on building your unique identity by improving your personality and reputation, other than being a mother /wife/daughter. Be involved in nation-building tasks. Follow your vision, not your fears. Follow your heart and mind, not the societal mob. Remember, your family may not understand you or would reject you at first, but in time, they will ALWAYS come to accept and love you for who you are.

  • How is the system of reservation either benefiting or undermining the capabilities of women?

I don’t believe in a system that creates division in any way, whether it favors or discriminates women. Equality in strictest sense has to be followed by educating people’s moral sense without discriminating based on sex . Yet by instituting quota systems giving women special priorities just because they are a woman will brings strong resentment from men who feels discriminated in turn. I do believe in  providing special incentives to help train women who need to upgrade their skills  so that they can compete fairly.

  • Even job holder married women go to their homes and single handedly perform all the household chores. That is the ideal wife according to the patriarchy in the modern times. How can this concept be changed?

Frankly let men do their dishes. I do it. If I can do it. so can others. In modern Nepal, traditional roles are no longer fixed, they are starting to change to mutually interchangeable roles . As women play  more powerful roles in public, this ideal wife concept of the past will fade away.

  • Women inherit nothing but castes, first from their fathers and later from their husbands. Does this tendency conceal a woman’s identity?

Yes to an extent. Women should never have to inherit identity from anyone else (neither should men). I recommend women not to change their identity (surname, castes), and husbands and others in the family not to insist on changing them. Just because it is an old tradition doesn’t mean it still holds credibility now. We have to be pragmatic. In the 21st century, identities are meant to be built. They aren’t meant to be inherited from someone else. Focus on building and shaping your unique identity :)

The government has no business doing ‘business’ in Nepal. (Nepal Telecom fiasco)

The government has no business doing ‘business’ in Nepal.

I am seriously thinking of switching from ‪Nepal‬‪ ‎Telecom‬ to an alternate. In the past 10 years, they have continuously let me down, despite my emotional attachment to Nepali owned company. Here are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Quality = Pathetic (my calls get cut, diverted, engaged randomly)
  2. Customer service = Unfriendly and unaccountable (to the point of sheer rudeness)
  3. Price = Not cheap any more (considering the amount of cut calls or low quality talks i have to put up with)

[One small context:  I cycled all the way from Kathmandu to Lumbini to highlight Lumbini and cycling and tourism in one of the hottest days of the year and I was using the internet to highlight our campaign. While Nepal Telecom’s competitor NCell had internet coverage in most of the stops we were at, Nepal Telecom had zero connectivity (even though it showed 3G connection as on ). How sad is it when you consistently over-promise and under-deliver?

A photographer friend had to send photos to various media using NCell in bhairahawa. This is embarrassing for a pioneer like Nepal Telecom to slowly go in the direction of Nepal’s other defunct government institutions (hint: Nepal airlines, Nepal Bank Limited, Nepal electricity corporation etc ).

So how do we turn around Nepal Telecom while bringing continuing innovation in the telecommunications industry in Nepal ?

  1. Sell government’s share of Nepal telecom to a Nepali private sector led consortium. Accountability to private shareholders will improve it.
  2. Consolidate all politically affiliated unions into one ‘welfare body’ that has management, employees, alumni and other stakeholders in one body. unions accountable to political parties have no place inside a business.
  3. Build “Customers as gods” policy and make sure  ‘Under-promise, Over-deliver’ remains the mantra of the institution!
  4. Use as Nepal Telecom’s mantra for service delivery.
  5. Implement ‘Hire and Fire’ and ‘no work, no pay’ policy. Nepal Telecom employees should not feel they are unaccountable government employees.

To improve Nepal Telecom we have also got to revamp the Telecom sector. This is a government’s primary role: to “check and balance”. Here are few of my ideas for the government to restructure the Telecom sector. :

  1. Empower the oversight body, Nepal telecommunication authority NTA with an independent board of managers (No political appointees) to make sure all telecommunication providers maintain quality, affordability and service.
  2. Penalize telecom providers for each cut calls and build an automatic refund system for each cut calls.
  3. Let customers track each mobile call records and internet usage records from their devices.
  4. Force telecommunication providers to share their infrastructure with other service providers for a valid fee. This ensures further competition and superior quality of service that comes with a competing market
  5. Fine any providers heavy if they resort to deceptive advertising practices. (Example: sometimes Ncell comes up with hard to understand schemes)
  6. Have a monthly ranking of all providers published in national media based on 3 criteria: Quality, Price & Customer service. Tie extra rewards for boards and management based on this index.
  7. Publicly acknowledge (and reward) best performing telecom engineers, customer service representatives and managers monthly.
  8. Direct telecom providers to collaborate with the banking sector to build secure platform and infrastructure for mobile banking.
  9. Limit Telecom providers to offer data and voice services. Have them open another company to offer other services so that there is no monopoly or unfair advantage over start-up companies.
  10. Ensure internet enabled education in the national policy and have government help bear expenses for this thus helping telecom companies have incentive to build costly next generational infrastructure in remote areas of Nepal.

I repeat, the government has no business doing business in Nepal. Either Nepal Telecom improves from today, or it goes down the drain like its other ‘government owned’ siblings !

 

नेपालमा २१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्व बोकेको शक्ति कस्तो हुनेछ त?

गत केही महिना देखि संचार माध्यममा नेपालमा वैकल्पिक शक्तिको उदयको बारेमा विभिन्न चर्चा-परिचर्चा भयो। नेपाली समाजले भबिष्यको नेपालको नेतृत्व कस्तो हुने अपेक्षा गरेको छ भन्ने विषयलाई खोतालेका ती लेख र बहसले आगामी दिनहरुमा निकै महत्व राख्ने छ। नेपाली समाजलाई यस्ता लेख मार्फत झकझकाउने स्तम्भकारहरु प्रेरणाका पात्र हुनुहुन्छ जसका लागि सबै स्तम्भकारहरुलाई म धन्यवाद दिन चाहन्छु।

नागरिक पत्रिकामा पनि प्रकाशित भएको छ। यहाँ पढ्नुहोला

यसै विषयमा म वैकल्पिक शक्ति र २१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्व बनाउने अाधारहरु बारे अाफ्नो २ वर्ष लामो पृथक् अनुभव यहाँ थप्न चाहन्छु जसले गर्दा यस मुद्दालाई अझ वैधता दिन सक्छ।

दुई वर्ष अघि देशमा अस्थिरता र देशको नेतृत्वमा देखिएको दूरदर्शिताको कमी, इच्छाशक्तिको अभाव, खुट्टा तान्ने प्रवृति र चरम भ्रष्टाचार जस्ता कु-संस्कारबाट नेपालको राजनीति रुमल्लिरहेको बेला एकाएक पहिलो संविधान सभा विघटन भयो। यसले नेपाली राजनीतिमा अन्यौल मात्र नल्याएर आम नागरिकमै देशको नेतृत्व प्रति पहिले कहिलै नदेखिएको चरम वितृष्णा नै पैदा गर्यो। यो संविधानसभा विघटन भए लगत्तै सबैको मनमा एउटै प्रश्नले पोलिरहेको थियो “अब के गर्ने?”

यही मूल प्रश्न लिएर हामी समाजका विभिन्न पेशा र पृष्ठभूमिका नागरिकहरु मिली उत्तर खोज्न लाग्यौँ। लगातार २२ साता र लगभग १,००० जनासँगको प्रत्यक्ष तथा अप्रत्यक्ष अन्तरक्रियापछि समस्या राजनीतिक संस्कार मै रहेछ, त्यसैले सबभन्दा जरुरी यो देशमा राजनीतिक कु-संस्कार बदल्नु पर्छ र यस्तो अामूल परिवर्तन ल्याउन एउटा पृथक् राजनीतिक विकल्प दिएर मात्र सकिन्छ भन्ने निष्कर्ष निक्लियो। परिवर्तन राता रात नहुने र नया संस्कार जरैबाट सुरु गर्नु पर्ने स्थितिले नै एउटा २१औँ शताब्दी समय सापेक्ष सु-संस्कृत राजनीतिक शक्ति “विवेकशील नेपाली” को सुरुवाती जग बस्यो।

यो दुई वर्षमा ‘विवेकशील नेपाली’ बनाउँदा हामी भित्र मूल प्रश्न नै “२१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्व बोकेको शक्ति कस्तो हुने छ त” भन्ने थियो। हामीलाई विश्वास थियो कि यस मूल प्रश्नको उत्तर अात्मसात् गरी अघि बढे मात्र नेपालमा कुनै वैकल्पिक शक्ति दीर्घकालीन रुपमा टिक्न सक्नेछ। अब नेपालमा उदाउने वैकल्पिक शक्तिमा हुनुपर्ने २१ औँ शताब्दी समय सापेक्ष नेतृत्वका हामीले अौँल्याएका कम्तीमा पनि १२ आधारहरु तल उल्लेख गर्दछु।

  1. परिणाम-मुखी:  यो शक्तिले परिणाम-मुखी मूल्य मान्यतालाई अात्मसात् गर्ने माटो र समय-सापेक्ष परिवर्तनशील सिद्धान्त बोकेको हुनेछ । हामीले अौँल्याएका यस माटो र समयसापेक्ष सिद्धान्तले कम्तीमा पनि यी ८ सुं-संस्कारलाई आत्मसात् गरेको हुनेछ – दायित्त्वबोध, उत्तरदायित्व, संमृद्धि, सशक्तीकरण, स्वतन्त्रता, विविधता, सेवक सरकार र समय-सापेक्षता।
  2. मध्यम-मार्गी: यो शक्ति मध्यम मार्ग बाट चल्नेछ जसले एकातिर नागरिकलाई जिम्मेवार र अर्को तिर नेतृत्वलाई जवाफदेही बनाइराख्नेछ। नागरिकलाई संमृद्धिको संवाहक बनाएर सेवक सरकारले लोक कल्याणको निश्चितता दिन तिर धकेल्नेछ।
  3. नरम-पन्थी: नरम पन्थी (चरम पन्थी होइन), संवेदनशील र संयम विचार बोकेका नैतिकवान् नेतृत्वले नै यो देशलाई एकतामा बाँधी राख्न सक्नेछ। यो शक्तिले जहिल्यै फरक काम भन्दा पनि भएकै काम फरक ढंगले गर्ने चेष्टा गर्नेछ।
  4. समतामूलक संमृद्धि: यो शक्तिले नेपालमा समतामूलक (समान) संमृद्धिलाई मूल मुद्दा बनाई राजनीतिलाई लोक कल्याण मुलक अर्थतन्त्रमै केन्द्रित राख्नेछ।
  5. प्रणाली अाधारित: समस्या मान्छेमा होईन संस्कारमा हो। त्यसै भएर प्रभावकारी व्यक्तित्व भन्दा पनि यो शक्ति प्रभावकारी प्रणालीमा अाधारित रहनेछ। यो शक्तिको प्रभावकारी प्रणाली (संरचना) भित्र सरकारको जस्तै ३ निकाय हुन्छ- व्यवस्थापिका, कार्यपालिका र न्यायपालिका। उक्त शक्ति भित्रको व्यवस्थापिका चाहिँ वर्तमान राजनीतिक शक्ति जस्तै हुनेछ देश हाँक्न चाहने नेता र कार्यकर्ताले भरिएको। अनि यसको कार्यपालिका चाहिँ शक्ति हाँक्न चाहिने कुशल कर्मचारीतन्त्रले भरिएको हुनेछ। त्यसैगरी यो शक्ति भित्रको न्यायपालिकाले चाहिँ यसको मर्म र मूल्यमान्यतालाई जोगाउन नैतिकता र अनुशासित राख्ने शक्तिशाली दायित्व बोकेको हुनेछ। यी तीनै अंग स्वाधीन हुन्छन् र उनीहरुबीच नियन्त्रण र सन्तुलन कायम राखिएको हुनेछ जसले गर्दा यो शक्ति जवाफदेही, कुशल, सुंसंस्कृत र पारदर्शी रुपमा चल्न सक्नेछ ।
  6. आत्म-निर्भर कार्यकर्ता रहेको: नेपालमा राजनीतिक शक्तिहरु भ्रष्ट हुनुको एउटा मूल कारण तिनका कार्यकर्ताहरु परनिर्भर हुनु हो। यसलाई शुरुमै निमोठ्नु अत्यन्त जरुरी हुनेछ। अबको कुनै पनि वैकल्पिक शक्तिले हरेक सदस्यहरुलाई अनिवार्य रुपमा स्वरोजगार वा अवसर सृजना गर्ने दिशा तिर धकेल्नै पर्नेछ ताकि अरुको शरण वा प्रभावमा पटक पटक यसले अाफ्नो घुँडा टेक्नु नपरोस्।
  7. मूल्यमान्यतामा अडिग: यो शक्तिले अाफुलाई सु-संस्कृत राखी राख्न अाफ्ना हरेक सदस्यहरुलाई मूल्य मान्यतामा बाँच्न झक्झकाईराख्नेछ। दृष्टिकोण, निति वा कार्यशैलीमा सदष्यहरु बिच चरम बिभेद भए पनि शक्ति अघि बढ्छ तर यसले बोकेका मूल्य मान्यता सबै सदष्यले अात्मसात नगरे यो शक्ति विलिन हुदैँ जान्छ।
  8. नेतृत्व विकास गर्ने पद्दति: यो शक्तिले आफ्नो संगठन भित्र यस्तो सबल ‘नेतृत्व विकास प्रणाली’ विकास गरेको हुनेछ जसले लगातार बनाउदै गर्ने नेताहरु भित्र शक्तिमा पुग्ने मात्र होइन, पुगे पछि राष्ट्र र जनहितका काम गरी परिणाम देखाउने खुबीले भरिएको हुनेछ। यसले उत्पन्न गरेको नेताहरु जीत-हारको वातावरण होईन, जीत-जीतको वातावरण बनाउन निपुण हुनेछ्न्।
  9. पारदर्शी र योग्यतामुखी: अबको वैकल्पिक शक्तिले पारदर्शिता र योग्यतामुखी प्रणालीलाई भित्रैबाट अात्मसात् गरेको हुनेछ। चन्दाको श्रोत संकलन देखि चिया खर्चको विवरण सम्ममा  यसले पारदर्शिता लागू गरेको हुनेछ भने नेतृत्व बढुवामा योग्यतामुखी प्रणाली नै संस्थागत गरिएको हुनेछ।
  10. नियमित नेतृत्व फेरबदली: अन्तत: पद र शक्तिले सबैलाई भ्रष्ट बनाउँछ । तसर्थ, संगठनभित्र नेतृत्व नियमित समयान्तरमा परिवर्तन हुने संस्कार एकदम जरुरी छ। वैकल्पिक शक्तिले अाफु भित्र बनाएका प्रणालीले नेतृत्वलाई नियमित रुपमा फेरबदल गर्नेछ। २१औँ शताब्दीमा त्यागको तुलना परिणाम मुखी योगदानबाट गरिनेछ जसको वैज्ञानिक तरिकाले लेखाजोखा गरिएको हुनेछ ।
  11. युवा केन्द्रित: यो शक्तिको श्रोत र प्राथमिकता भनेकै युवा पिंढी हुन्। युवा र युवा ऊर्जा बोकेको नेतृत्वले यसको मान्यता र नयाँ राजनीतिक संस्कारलाई गाउँ गाउँ सम्म लैजाने छन् र नयाँ शक्तिको नेतृत्व आफै लिने छन्।
  12. म्याराथोन दौडाहा: अन्तत यो वैकल्पिक शक्ति १०० मिटर होइन, लामो रिले म्याराथोन दौडने मनसायले खडा भएको हुनेछ। नेपालमा त्यही शक्ति सफल हुनेछ जो कुनै कार्यमा लाग्दा अरुलाई उछिनी पहिलो भएर भन्दा पनि त्यसलाई सफल नतुल्याए सम्म अरु भन्दा पहिले थाक्नेछैन।

के यी २१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्वका आधारहरु हुँदैमा सफल भइन्छ त? सोध्नु होला। यही आधारहरु बोकी गत मंसिरको संविधान सभाको निर्वाचनमा हामीले निर्वाचन अायोगमा दल दर्ता भैनसकेको हुनाले काठमाडौँका चार क्षेत्र १,४,५ र ८ बाट चार स्वतन्त्र युवा उम्मेद्वार खडा गर्यौँ।  चारै जनाले स्वतन्त्र रुपमा कुकुर छाप लिएर कुल ३०६६ मतको सम्मानजनक नतिजा ल्यायौँ। एक महिना मात्रको चुनावी अभियानबाटै दुई क्षेत्रमा अहिलेका चार प्रमुख दल पछि पाँचौँ स्थान अोगट्न सफल भयौँ र यी ठाउंमा एउटा नयाँ शक्ति भएर अाफूलाई सावित गर्यौँ। यसरी अगाडि बढ्दै गर्दा ‘विवेकशील नेपाली’लाई अहिलेसम्म देश भित्र ७३ जिल्ला तथा देश बाहिर २५ मुलकमा भएका झण्डै १ लाख नेपाली नागरिकहरुले अपनाइसकेका छन्।

यिनै २१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्वका अाधारमा चल्दै आएको २ वर्ष लामो हाम्रो क्रियाकलापले हामीलाई विश्वास बढाएको छ कि नेपाल भित्र अब जीत-हारको होइन, जीत-जीतको वातावरण बनाउने शक्तिले नै नेतृत्व पाउनेछ। अन्त्यमा हामी वा कुनै पनि वर्तमान र भविष्यका राजनीतिक शक्तिको अौचित्य यौटै रहनुपर्नेछ – नेपाललाई शान्त र संमृद्ध बनाउने ‘हाम्रै कालमा’। यो हासिल गर्न सबभन्दा बढी तयार र बलियो शक्ति त्यो हुनेछ  जो २१ औँ शताब्दी समय-सापेक्ष नेतृत्वले भरिभराउ हुनेछ।

उज्वल थापा, अध्यक्ष
विवेकशील नेपाली
[email protected]

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