Volume 7 Number 2 (October 2007-March2008)


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 readability.

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 provoking.

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, and Ecology.

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 concerned.

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.



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