Notices and Signages – More than meets the eye

A beautiful name board with logo on the façade of a store, a restaurant or even an office is the first to catch an eye and make an impression. The décor, the smiling staff comes next. They all go on to imprint a certain image about the business in one’s mind. But another rather undermined communication that does its bit not just in imparting information but in building the image of a quality conscious and customer-centric business is – Notices and Signages.

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Image Courtesy- Google Images

These are simple boards with directions, instructions and useful information. More often than not, we don’t take much note of these unassuming boards. However, if one were to give it a second thought one would realize that their presence actually makes a lot of things easier and convenient.

 

Think about the time when we want to find an address in the city. We end up asking the paanwala, rickshawwala, sometimes even the traffic police. Now albeit with the use of internet applications it is much easier to find places, our streets and chowks do not have sufficient direction boards to guide a tourist. But in developed countries every road, highway, airports and public places have prominently placed direction boards with clear symbols and words that makes it delightfully easy for a stranger to find the way!

Similarly, instructions in the business place makes life easy for a consumer/ visitor.

Such communication also takes the form of product manuals, Specials’ Board in restaurants or even the menu card! While designing any of these communications, one must keep in mind that it must be simple, polite and clear to understand by a lay person. A very common but effective example is that of “No Smoking”. We often find such notice – “Thank You For Not Smoking”, which makes it sound much more polite and compelling at the same time. Humour is often an effective way to convey short instructions as humour prevents it from sounding stern.

blog-1-pic-decThe handbook or Manual that comes with products, especially electronic or gadgets, is an important communication that helps the customer use and maintain the product effectively. Unfortunately, we usually ignore it and end up without using majority of the features.

Instructional and informational communication answers questions before they even arise in the customer’s mind and thus creates a positive impression in their mind.

It helps the consumer to use the product to its fullest and also take care of it. It also brings in complete transparency which goes on to reflect the integrity of business. All in all, notices, signages, manuals, menu cards and such communication serves a much wider purpose than just passing on information. It speaks a lot about your business and a wise, creative use of it augurs well for its sustained growth.

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10 Must-Read Books for All Aspiring Entrepreneurs

There are times when all entrepreneurs struggle and need some help getting back up on their feet.  These are books written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs as a way to give guidance throughout the business journey.  The lessons given in these books provide a new insight to business related issues as well as a new way of seeing things in relation to yourself and your business ventures.

 

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1) Dream With Your Eyes Open by Ronnie Screwvala

UTV founder and entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala chronicles his experiences and myriad of business ventures in his autobiography.  He beautifully details the ups and downs of his business success and the formation of his empire.

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2) Go Kiss the World by Subroto Bagchi          

The Co-founder of Mindtree intertwines his personal life and entrepreneurial journey, and describes the multiple influences and decisions that shaped him and his company today.

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3) Bhaag! by Ganesh V

Bhaag! overviews student entrepreneurship in India and illustrates the journeys of 11 student entrepreneurs and the challenges, mistakes, struggles, and successes they faced and overcome on the road to becoming successful.  If they can do it, so can you!

the tipping point

4) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Critically acclaimed author Malcolm Gladwell describes a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point” and says “ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread like viruses do.” Gladwell encourages you to think deeply and to be empowered to see the world through a different lens.

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5) Launch! By Scott Duffy

Written by the prolific founder of Virgin Charter, Launch! serves as a manual for bringing your product to life.  Duffy narrates several examples and anecdotes, and provides a guide to follow throughout his multiple years in business.

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6) Connect the Dots by Rashmi Bansal

The stories of 20 new entrepreneurs who, without business degrees, started their own companies.  With a hard-working ethic and desire to achieve, these individuals prove that passion is all that is necessary to turn dreams into a reality.

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7) Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson

The autobiography of business mogul and billionaire investor Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, details his life and business ventures, as well as his life experiences and personal life philosophy.

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8) Take me Home by Rashmi Bansal

This book focuses on 20 young entrepreneurs who dreamt of making it big. Bansal again provides all the encouragement needed to become a young entrepreneur in India.

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9) Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnema

Penned by Nobel-Prize winning author and Professor Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow details the decision making process of the brain, as well as the functions, advantages, and disadvantages to this system and how it affects the world of business.

the lean startup

10) The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Ries provides any entrepreneur the practicality and science behind generating ideas.  Ries explains how startups are comparable to science experiments, through the process of testing and analysing everything you do.  Through his explanation, entrepreneurs can understand the methodical processes behind creating and running successful businesses.

 

Quality Lesson from a Taxi Driver

As customers, we often get frustrated when we don’t get satisfactory service at the time when we need it. How many times have we been angry and frustrated at call drops just when we are in the middle of an important conversation? Similarly, when you are in the role of a supplier, your customer expects service that meets his expectations.

However, in the daily flurry of running a business – raw material procurement, production, marketing, delivery, managing cash flow and loan repayments – we often forget this most important aspect of our business – Quality.

What exactly is Quality? Quality has many different meanings. Often, quality is relative. Everyone measures quality based on their own expectations and perceptions. These expectations are different for different customers and sometimes they could be diametrically opposite – hence, it is difficult to define ‘Quality’.

Overall, it is important for a businessman to know the expectations of his customers and what is critical to his customers.

The Taxi Story

Mumbai Taxi

I’d like to illustrate the concept of Quality and Customer Delight through a personal experience.
I was outside Dadar Station in Mumbai one day, looking for a taxi to take me to Santa Cruz. I was impressed by a taxi that looked spick and span and promptly hailed it and got in. To my pleasant surprise, the interior of the taxi matched its exterior – it was clean and fragrant. Moreover, the taxi was equipped with every conceivable item a passenger could possibly need – English and Marathi dailies, copies of rail and air timetables, a list of emergency numbers, a sealed bottle of drinking water and a mobile charger. The driver was courteous and disciplined, even asking me what kind of music I would like to listen to! I was so delighted that, on reaching my destination, I gave him a hundred rupee tip.

I was curious and asked him how he could afford to provide this level of service to his customers. He replied that what he received in tips more than made up for the expense incurred. What’s more, he had the satisfaction of happy customers, who, in turn, would go forth to do their work with enthusiasm!

Have you ever had such an experience? No? From now on, I tell every taxi and rickshaw driver I meet, that if they provide such excellent service, they will never have to go looking for customers; customers would come looking for them!

I hope we realise the importance of quality and understand that it requires prioritization.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is a director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.