Saturday, 6 June 2009

Mahatma's Travails: Part 2

Mahatma has flown in from Chennai, the previous evening. He takes a taxi to Hotel H in Byculla, has an early dinner, and very soon turns in for the night. He sleeps soundly till around midnight when he is woken up by someone softly knocking at his door.

Cursing the intrusion and half-asleep, Mahatma opens the door to find a personable young man who asks him politely whether he would like some female company. Mahatma is speechless with horror and just stands there rooted to the spot, which the young man misconstrues as a genuine expression of interest.

The young man tries to build on his sales presentation, by elaborating further on the services on offer, the virtuosity of the practitioners, and the rates for different services etc., cheerfully oblivious to the fact that his prospective customer has pulled himself erect and started bristling in an alarming manner. Glowering dangerously but still struggling for words, Mahatma manages to utter just one sentence. “No,” he says. “Please go away!”

Our personable young man now, knows all about overcoming objections and closing the deal. He knows some customers act shy and have to be brought out of their shell. Some, he knows, just act disinterested, just to bring down the price. So, as a first step towards breaking the ice and building rapport, he looks furtively around and making sure no one is in the vicinity, drops his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, and asks Mahatma: “Sir, aap service kar rahe hai, kya?” (Loosely translated and put in context: Sir, are you working as a salaried employee in a company?)

Mahatma is taken aback by this sudden change in direction the conversation has taken. He has had enough of this young man and his impudence. He is about to bang the door shut at the young man’s face when the young man, probably sensing an opportunity slipping away, plays what he feels is his trump card—empathy. Vital for building customer rapport.

"I understand you salaried-people’s problems, sir," says the young man in his broken English. "Company need bill for everything. Don’t worry sir, I arrange everything for you. I organise bill for specials meals sir. No need for pay from pocket."

That is when Mahatma finally managed to prise himself away from this engaging conversation, close the door shut and call the reception to keep his bill ready for an early-morning check-out.

The incident created quite a flutter in the office and poor Mantri was at the receiving end of a lot of flak for having booked Mahatma in an inappropriate hotel. An aggrieved Mantri came to me the next day and complained: “Nahin lene ka to, bolne ka. Baat khatam. Itna shor machane ki kya bat hai?” (If you don’t want the service, just say so and the matter is closed. Why make a song and dance about it?)

Mantri never got the point.


Renu said...

Nice :). This Mantri seems like an objective guy who I suspect was just trying for a promotion :)

Maddy said...

that was pretty good, had a good guffaw at mantri's comment-

Rada said...

@ Renu: No Renu, Mantri was never a schemer. He was more of a bumbler, if you know what I mean!

@ Maddy: Thanks! ;-)

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.