Peter Economy, “Customer Service Secrets”, New Delhi, 2004, Tata McGraw-
Hill, Pages xiv + 149; Price Rs. 195/-
Customer service as a managerial responsibility area has become crucial in the
experience economies that we witness today. The service envelope for most of the
products and services that are being conceived off and bought and sold in the
market today, is all encompassing, widely defined and is becoming the standard
expectation of the customer. Therefore to remain relevant to their chosen segment,
marketers need to focus on providing effective customer service as a minimum
requirement especially when the product/service categories they deal-in have
competition or numerous substitutes.
Customer service is the process of satisfying the customer, relative to a product
or service, in whatever way the customer defines as meeting his or her need, and
having that service delivered with efficiency, understanding, and compassion
(Odgers, 2003). One can always expand the ambit of this definition by including
both the external as well as internal customers within the customer-service domain.
The book under review is titled ‘Customer Service Secrets’ has been written
in an anecdotal style which makes it reader friendly and fun to read. The book is
full of real life experiences and vignettes spread over four sections namely, The
Customer is King; Going Above and Beyond; The Art of Customer Service; and
When Things Go Wrong. The first part focuses on the imperative of customer
service as a business tenet and foundation for all types of businesses, professionals
and other organizations. The second part of the book focuses on the way the
customer service envelope and effort on part the company is usually formatted
and implemented. How going beyond the ‘call of duty’ can make a real difference
in any business and lead to exemplary customer satisfaction.
The third part refers to the art of customer service and provides vignettes of
how customer service can be put into operation and also what should not be done.
This admonishment (of what should not be done) is however a running theme in
the book and there are numerous occasions where the author juxtaposes the do’s
and the don’ts with good effect. There is a full section in this part on the internet
and its effects on our work-time and productivity, which indicates to the possible
nuisance that the internet could be and eat away on the time that we could spend
in customer service among other roles.
The final part of the book focuses on a very crucial aspect of customer
satisfaction, which is the impact that a service or product failure leads to and the
need for recovery strategies and tactics that a business needs to have in its repertoire.
Also, there is a section on emergencies at work and how to cope with them.
Overall a very interesting and fun book to read. What it lacks in structure it
makes up with the ‘stories’ that it uses to get a point across. Again, the context and
most of the examples are American but many of them are common across businesses
and cultures and hence could be extrapolated to ones immediate operating
environment. This is a good read for business executives as well as professionals
as it is not a very heavy tome literally as well as that it scores very high on
Dr. Umashankar Venkatesh, Dean, Institute for International Management and
Technology, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.
Bani P Banerjee, “Foundations of Ethics in Management”, New Delhi, 2005,
Excel Books, pp176, price Rs.150/-
Ethics, be it in an organization or in personal life is a topic much discussed and
debated in various forums. Increasingly business organizations are recognizing
that being ethical will improve their image in minds of people ultimately resulting
in higher sales and profits. But the question remains – what is ethical / unethical?
The book provides an overview of the ethics in management, in which the
author explains various concepts like hedonism, utilitarianism, personal ethics
and societal ethics, values in the West, values from the East, etc.
Chapter: 1 – “Background for the Models” focuses on Sorokin’s thesis of
cyclical waxing and waning of the three value systems – the sensate, the ideational
and the idealistic. The chapter also deals with Christianity, “I Ching’ or “Book of
Changes”, Confucianism and the Vedantic concepts. An attempt has been made to
equate Sorokin’s analysis with the Vedantic concepts, which is interesting.
Chapter: 2 and 3 deal with the western concept of business and industry and
the ethical dimensions in western management concepts.
Chapter: 4 is about the evolution of ethics in Japan. The differences between
Japanese and American Organization, the socio-cultural factors are thought
Chapter: 5 is interestingly named “Hijacking”. How the ruling policy makers
hijack any new idea or concept appealing to the people, which they think is
harmful. They keep the outer shell intact, but modify the contents to suit them.
The examples used to highlight the same are - the Olympic games, Democracy,
Chapter: 6 deals with explanation of ethics, wherein the author discusses
about corporate ethics and personal ethics. The example used is the development
of Tatanagar Township by Jamshedji Tata that has set standards as far as ethics are
Chapter: 7 – “An alternative concept of business and industry” deals with
three models: the Chakraborty model, the Jitatmananda model and the Sherlekar
model. The comparison made between Western management and management
based on Indian ethos, is very comprehensive, precise, and useful as a reference.
Chapter: 8 – “ An Alternative Model” is about an alternative model on ethics
in management, as the author explains that there are no cases reported on the
implementation of the three models described in chapter: 7. The model has twin
foundations – “Let the whole earth be happy” and the five “koshas described in Taittiriya Upanishad comprising material, the life force energy, the realm of the
mind, scientific analysis and joy in sweetness, fearlessness, in utter quality and the
undifferentiated soul. The examples used like “Amul”, “Bangladesh Grameen
Bank”, “ The Body Shop International” and “ Ramakrishna Mission” and “TISCO”
are from the realm of for-profit and non-profit organizations.
Chapter: 9 – “Reality” deals with reality, as it exists keeping in view the
concepts and models discussed in the book.
Lastly the book makes a good reading for students as well as academicians.
Students can benefit from the examples discussed keeping the theories in focus
and get a clear picture about ethics in management. Academicians can use the
book as an additional source, while teaching ethics to management students.
Durga Mohan, Assistant Professor, Institute for International Management and
Technoloyg, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.
G.Sudesh Kumar, “Outsourcing Laboratory Based Services”, New
Delhi, 2006, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited, pp.198; Price Rs. 395.
One of the best gifts of globalization is outsourcing. It has become a major cost
reduction technique in the recent years without making a compromise on the
quality of deliverables. With India emerging as the hub of outsourcing services,
much of the outsourcing work from rest of the world is being taken up in India. The
author feels that although there are numerous articles on outsourcing of IT-enabled
services and India’s contribution as knowledge based economy, not much has
been talked about outsourcing of laboratory-based services.
Today, India and China are attracting outsourced research and development
projects and offshore R&D units of major global pharmaceutical and engineering
companies. This book specifically talks about outsourcing of lab-based services
and provides insights about it. It talks about inventing a new future for R&D and
testing. The book has been written by the Vice President of the Analytical Division at Vimta Labs Ltd., Hyderabad. The author has a two decade-long career experience
of leading knowledge teams in well-known corporate laboratories, which has
helped him to create this book.
The book is approximately of 200 pages and is divided into six chapters.
Chapter 1 talks about global outsourcing in a knowledge economy. The chapter
differentiates research process outsourcing from business process outsourcing and
the laws of migration which govern laboratory-based services. Chapter 2 “Research
process outsourcing: The beginning of pharma contract”. This chapter is dedicated
to R&D in the pharma sector and issues like the drug discovery, drug screening,
final round of trials and the final registration of the drug. The chapter then discusses
the drug-testing scenario in India. It also emphasizes on the various technical
terms related to drug testing like Kilo labs, Pharmacopoeal testing, stability studies
etc. Chapter 3 discusses about off shore R&D labs. It talks about houses of magicsome
of the first research labs set up by various corporates, reasons why innovators
go off-shore, China’s competition to India for off shore R&D, how India is becoming
a critical factor for chip design for international big players like Texas Instruments,
Motorola, Intel etc. It also talks about General Motors’, Eli Lilly and GE’s research
facilities in India. The last topic of the chapter discusses how clusters are developing
for various kinds of R&D and how they prove to be major wealth creators. Chapter
4 is “Testing for quality? Outsourcing is in”. It presents the scenario of private
testing laboratories in India and a few examples from a broad spectrum of contract
testing services. Chapter 5 titled as “Measured once, accepted everywhere” gives
a brief overview of the quality management systems specific to each activity such
as ISO 17025, GLP, GMP, GCP etc. It talks about terms like Mutual recognition
agreements, certification, accreditation, conformity assessment and Round Robin
testing. Chapter 6 “Inventing the future: Citius, Altius, Fortius” talks about path
forward for laboratory based services. The author concludes by stating that the
path of discovery is zig-zag and random with loads of surprises and needs dedication
and hard work to get the best possible results. This holds true for outsourcing
experiment as well.
The book has been written in simple English but the author’s style of writing
is impressive. He has used catchy titles for various topics discussed. The chapters
have been broken up into smaller sub-topics that makes it a simple read. There are
numerous pictures and diagrams to discuss the theory.
The book has been written for people involved in the area of research and
testing. A layman may not find it very pertinent. The language and the terminologies
in the book are specific to the research industry. It has been written with a specific
section in mind and would well cater to the needs of that section.
Kirti Madan, Assistant Professor, Institute for International Management and Technoloyg, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.