Must you engage …get it right – 5 simple tips.

Must you engage – Get it right. 5 Simple Tips.

“ Are we engaging with the customer enough?” is normally a self- doubt and mostly starts a very incisive brain wrecking session at many organisations.

Do we have a customer experience program ? Is there a lifecycle existing for all credit cards we issue? Are we contacting our customer enough or bombarding this creature beyond recognition ?

According to me , let’s understand him or her as a normal human being, someone who is very much mortal and not an out of the world Greek God or Goddess.

Here I am attempting to highlight the “high fivers” of customer engagement – a few tips consumers have taught me over the years.

1.Every customer is a normal mortal mostly looking for basics – clarity on pricing, features, benefits and what he/ she can consume without much hassle. So even if the product is complex – breaking it down to top 3 benefits should work most times and give a better rate of response.

2. Every customer is not thinking about you all the time – so let’s not target him/her for multiple products at the same time. Basis portfolio behaviour, pin pointing life stage would be a much better and acceptable idea.

3.Are we talking Greek or Latin and have we almost lost our consumer when he/she is translating us because we are not narrating it in the language he/she is comfortable in ? How do we know this ? Geographic segmentation, availability of communication in regional as well as English, inputs from ground zero team could be some of the tips that we can deploy.

4. Right timing talks better than right offering – as living in the present is what every customer wants to do. Engaging on a relevant offering is better received when done at an appropriate timing and hence time to market essential.

5. Like us , our consumer is busy and hence getting by is his motto in life and if we are planning to make an impression , I think we will lose the plot. As long as a window of opportunity is explored to contact him/her through a notification or a post transaction sms or a flash banner while searching for a flight , we cannot land at greater places with our customer.

Trick is to metaphorically land at places we can travel together and avenues where our interaction with him/her becomes meaningful – over and over again.

How life f**ks you 

When you chase a dream, it makes you run after it – calls it “pursuit”

When you chase happiness, it makes you feel devoid of it – calls it “depression”

When you chase friends, it makes you feel like a loser – calls it “solitude”

When you chase love, it makes you want it so desperately – calls it “obsession”

When you chase care, it makes you feel so lonely- calls it “deprivation”

When you chase fun, it makes you feel so selfish – calls it “desparation”

When you chase freedom,it makes you feel so chained – calls it “expectation”

When life f**ks you, you know you are born to chase one thing or another.

If it falls in your lap,it is laughing all the way to the bank and saying – “I told you so. You better get on with it.”

Calls it – malfunction

5 Naanu tales


Naanu(maternal grandmother) at 12:am in the night at one of the Sharma family “goshtis” ( gosscusions -gossip + discussions)

“… Aur phir Sheebu bola..Amma ho gayi..dhula do” 

(Translation -And then Sheebu said, Amma,I am done. Come clean me up)

And we burst into laughing.

Naanu at 2:30 am

The ghosthi is in full swing.

“.. Aur phir Sheebu bola…Amma ho gayi..dhula do” 

And we burst into laughing, yet again. It is the sheer dialogue delivery.

Naanu at 4:00 am

The ghosthi is still on. It is the winter. Some 8-10 people in one blanket. 5-6 tea cups lying around. And 3-4 uncle chips.

 Yes, she has this amazing capacity to be awake, keep cracking and participating in jokes.

“.. Aur phir Sheebu bola…Amma ho gayi..dhula do”
We all scream. Naanuuu, century ho gayi …ab bas karo..!

(Translation- Naanu, you have told this joke a 100 times over. Now you can stop)

Naanu at 5:00 am

And then we wait for the double century.

Poor Sheebu , he has gotten terribly famous because of this.


Naani,” yeh kya pehen liya, toone, kuch aur nahin hai kya” 

( Translation – Naanu exasperated – what are you wearing ? Don’t you have anything else to wear?)

Me specially annoyed as I was absolutely thinking , I looked like a stunner!

“..kya Naanu,yeh abhi chal raha, this is in fashion and it is so hot , bus main jaana hai..”

( Translation – Naanu this is fashion and in trend. Moreover, it is hot and I have to go in the bus.)

Naani laughed and her laughter is grand..and remarked..” ..change kar le, yeh toh baniyaan jaisee hai..”

( Translation – Change it. It looks like a vest!)
I laugh. I change. I leave.  I see her put her spectacles back on her nose and dig deeper into the Jagran.

And I look back and laugh again.


Naani(maternal grandmother) has this love affair with sweets. Cannot have enough or atleast the taste bud doesn’t tickle any remote sense that she has severe diabetes.

Naani,” Prem, ja 1 kg jalebi lekar aa.” 

(Translation – Prem , go and get 1 kg of jalebis- sweet meats)

( Prem is very close to Naanu. Just like her son and a complete participant in Sharma madness.)

Prem, ..” But Amma( mother), kya karogi ,1 kg jalebi kaa..”

(Translation – But Amma, why do you need 1 kg of jalebis)

Naanu,” ..arre Shubhi aa rahi hai Mumbai se, uske liye mangaa rahi hoon..mujhe thodi khaani hai.”

( Translation – Shubhi is coming from Mumbai. I am getting sweets ordered for her and not for myself)

Prem leaves with a “as if I don’t know and can’t guess.” Smiles and goes out to execute the order.

I arrive. Naanu, ” jalebi khayegi ?.” I am all smiles as I love jalebis. 

” Haan Naanu, but with you.” I know her too !

Naanu,..” Achha chal, 1-2 main kha leti hoon..” 

(Translation – Okay, if you insist , I will eat 1-2 pieces.)

900 seconds later, Naanu and Naati( granddaughter) finish 1 kg of jalebis. No questions asked. 

Only ..”aur khayegi ?..aur mangaooon..” 

(Translation – Naanu asks, “Would you eat more, should I call more of it?”)


The ” chaat”(spicy fast food) party is on at Naanu’s house.

Naanu,”..Jhaanvi , jaldi lekar aa Aaloo Tikkis..”

(Translation – Jhaanvi , get the potato chops , faster)

(Jhaanvi is sous chef as Naanu has prepared the mixture and now she needs to fry the potato chops)

Jhaanvi already behind schedule as Sharma cousins are devouring the chaat items like an avalanche,”…laaa raheen hoon,Amma.”

(Translation: I am getting the potato chops,Amma)

I say,..” Naanu, tum mat khaana, too much oil in it..”

(Translation: Naanu, please don’t eat these. There is too much oil in it.)

Naanu..” ..jhaanvi..laa mujhe surf chakha de..dekhoon toh to theek banayi hai ki naheen..”

(Translation- ” Jhaanvi, get them here . Let me taste , have you got them right or not”)

Jhaanvi comes out of the kitchen with a plate full of aaloo tikkis( potato chops).

Naanu looks at the serving and remarks,” ..itna kyoon le aayi..khana thodi hai..taste karna hai..chal..idhar de.”

(Translation – Why did you get so much? I will not eat so much . I have to just taste. Give the plate to me.)

Jhaanvi smiles and says..” Haan Amma, kar lo taste ..baaki chod dena..”and smiles again.

( Translation – Jhaanvi smiles and says Amma eat however much you want to. Leave the rest. Knowing very well, that wouldn’t be the case.)

Sharma family matriach has two strengths – weakness for sweets and weakness for chaat( spicy fast food) and it pretty much makes up our DNA.

Hail fast food. Hail sweets.

The chaat party ends with Naanu’s final call..” ..Jhaanvi, la ab coke pila de..sab dhul jayeg..” 

( Translation – Jhaanvi get me a coke. It will dissolve all the rubbish in my tummy.)

And we boo Naani and she boos us back !!


Naani and all her bhajan mandali is at one of their jam sessions. 

Naani sings, “..jai ho meri maiyaa mere rai, jai ho meri maiyaa meri …”

( Translation – I pray to you my goddess with folded hands..)

The tune is melodious but vaguely familiar. I wonder where it has been lifted from.

Ranjani aunty( One of Naani’s very close friends) repeats the line,”..jai ho meri maiyaa mere rai, jai ho meri maiyaa meri …”

I am still trying to figure out which song is it when the entire mandali gets into a vigorous rendition.

It is quite enjoyable and sets you on a very Bollywood spiritual spin. And I am getting the hang of it when suddenly Usha aunty instantly sings ..” Tan dole mera man dole, Mere dill ga kya kara..”

(Translation – My body swings, my mind swings, my heart is very restless. This is a Hindi oldie)

And the entire toli( group) bursts into laughing. 

The inspiration finally makes it presence felt. Ultimately, Almighty has his/her way of making the truth prevail!

Ten Truths about a Marketing Offsite.

1st fact
“The out of office reads like this ,” Sorry, I am not available as we have a marketing offsite. So, will be delayed in my response.” 

Truth – ” The best time of my life has started. So, don’t bloody dare to think of bothering me. Even if you do, you will just get an empty stare.”

2nd fact

“We are going to learn some insights about our domains. Get some outside perspective and refresh our creative thinking.”

Truth – Sack the knowledge. Sack the truth. I am turning into a sack whether in session or in my room. I will turn into a zombie.

3rd fact

“We are going to bond. To collaborate and create ever lasting working relationships.”

Truth – Don’t care who you are, where you from. Are you carrying the good times ?

4th fact

” Wow, what speakers and their insights. It seems like I have really come up the curve in these two days. My eyes have opened and all blocks are clear.”

Truth – It is easy to say all this when you get fat dough. Just finish the talk and move on. I just want to see the lunch spread.

5th fact

“Awesome music, great dancing. It has never been so magical.”

Truth – Damn it, now I have to dance. Let me find my dark spot. If only, they could serve me in the room. Why do I need to pay in the form of dancing.

6th fact

“What a beautiful resort? So many facilities, let me try to experience it fully.”

Truth – All sessions were okay. One was exceptional. It was where we had to fill feedback. Also, do you know where my room is ?

7th fact

“Team building activities bring out the best in all. Help us sail through the year with elan.”

Truth –  None of us can tolerate each other beyond a project. It was great to have a timed interaction, limited. Many ended up doing an activity without overshooting.

8th fact

“Q&A sessions motivate people to ask the extraordinary or the not so obvious. They help foster confidence.”

Truth – Planting would be less disastrous. Speakers should have asked questions and maybe we could have answered like which category you look after ..blah blah blah

9th fact

“I love my job. I love my company.”

Truth – I haven’t found another company and job , as of yet.

10th fact

“It is one of the best offsites we ever had. I think, we had lots of fun.”

Truth – Such an expensive comp off. I suggest we either have more of these or all together dump it for 2 hrs in the dormitory every day!

#timeoff #offsite #marketingoffsite #lovemyjob #insights #session #outofoffice#teambuilding #outsideperspective


Today, something occurred. A chain of thoughts that wouldn’t #unflow. A surge of emotions that wouldn’t #unebb. And a barrage of questions that wouldn’t #unrise. 
Today , I am rethinking my values. The basic ones – Respect for others, honesty, being compassionate, helping others, being fair ,being just, responsible, have faith, love whole heartedly and that self respect is one’s greatest virtue.

Systematically, these last few months, all are in dire need of a renewal program. Frankly, they have matured. And I just pause and think, am I putting my child at great risk by telling her these exist any more. She will follow them whole heartedly, all the values I mentioned above and she will get hurt over and over again for being a stickler. 

What if I told her the reverse?


Don’t have faith in everyone or everything you meet. Nobody can be trusted. You cannot and shall not depend on someone’s kind words. They may be messing with you and you will end up hurting yourself. Always look round the corner and up the alley as this world is full of cunning people , waiting to harm you.


There are lots of time your inner conscience will squeal out and say help thy one on the road , in office or at home. Do it at your risk as you are never getting that help back. Even more, the same person or thing will bite you to dust, the moment you held out that warm hand.


Exploit all you meet. Use and throw. This world is for opportunists and people who know what to use when, are the winners. Don’t be a loser and protect justice. Be a winner and crush it.


We are here to make a mark and not a bow.Be a bully, say what you want to say, don’t let others complete. Jump in and snatch your pie. Jump the queue, jump the bar and litter out. #UntheRule and #unRespect


This is a make believe word. Till the time you know , this is fantasy, you will be happy. Don’t search for it. Don’t give up for it. There isn’t such thing. If you happen to find it, #uncling.

All the above sound #unfamiliar to me. Telling it to my daughter, seems disastrous. But it doesn’t seem #unreal. 

And yes , then there is the argument,be street smart. Well, this is the killer attitude. Get going and do the #unvalue in the coolest way. 

I only have one question to my fellow parents , peers and all reading this, are you facing this and is it right to reverse the game or simply, #UnValue.


Perspectives of an almost 5 year old

Mumma ” Bubs, you should celebrate Krishna’s birthday today.”
Lil’ La ” But he is invisible Mumma.”

Mumma, puzzled that she knows he is not human. I haven’t told her as far as I can remember.

Mumma,”Well, he is a cheeky boy and he loves to play hide and seek.”

Lil’ La, ” Then I will use a telescope to find him!”

And isn’t  this intriguing as space and divinity do go together and I haven’t told her any of it.

Is it why they say children are the closest to godliness. Maybe …

Mumma smiles to herself and can only remark ,” Happy Janmashtami, my Lil’ Krishna. ”

On this my Lil’ Krishna adds and says,” I have an idea Mumma, I will make a drawing for Krishna, find him and give him for his birthday.”

It’s a good plan. As always, I leave the execution also to her !

The Product Predator and the Marketing Murderer


Situation One

Marketing Murderer:”What is the product all about?”

Product Predator:”It is like this only.”

Marketing Murderer:”Achaa, so it is like this and that.”

Product Predator:”Actually, it is this and that and a bit more than that.”

Marketing Murderer: ” Okay so top 3 benefits will be – This,That and Much More than That. Great, I think I am getting there.”

Product Predator:” It should be seen everywhere.”

Marketing Murderer: ” This or That or Much More than That ?”

Product Predator:” Good question, let’s make ‘This’ first and ‘That’ second in the main sentence. Both need importance. Much More than That can come as a ball.”

Marketing Murderer:” Achha, you mean blurb. Can do it. Where will you sell this.”

Product Predator:” Actually, we want to try and see if this works, so pretty much everywhere.”

Marketing Murderer: “Oh okay, when are you planning to launch it ?”

Product Predator: ” The product is ready, we have done the testing, I think it is working so this Monday should be good.”

Marketing Murderer:” But that is 2 days away , we won’t be able to pull it off.”

Product Predator:”Arre,nothing much has to be done, there is just one poster, one internal launch event, one standee, one leaflet and yes we need to ready one video for the launch.”

Marketing Murderer: ” That’s easy. I will order online. Maybe call for Express Delivery.”

Product Predator:”And yes, let it be cash on delivery. Don’t spend much. Try to see if express delivery can happen through surface. We should avoid air cargo.”

Marketing Murderer: ” Good idea. Also, how many clients you want to invite for this launch?”

Product Predator:”I think x should be enough. Also, we should try to generate as many leads as possible. We will call our sales people.”

Marketing Murderer: ” Wonderful, let’s do this. Don’t you think we should know a little bit about this new customer,like a dipstick maybe.”

Product Predator:” Agree, we should talk to a few customers we know or someone who looks like that on the floor. Let me ask a few people around here.”

Marketing Murderer:”Oh yes definitely,surely keep us posted. And by the way, do you need a name for the product.”

Product Predator:”Yes, I already thought of – Poor(a) Product.” ( Poora is complete in Hindi)

At this juncture, the Product Predators and Marketing Murderers shake hands amicably and sign off for a much deserved break – the weekend.

Every time I think of her my eyes swell. That’s one of the reasons I was fighting back the desire to write about her and my connection with her.

She touched me in a number of ways. Not just the grand parental love but the difference she made to my thinking, my personality and my inherent traits. She was the strongest human being I know having survived the deaths of two loved ones in a lifetime – her husband and her son.

Funny, generous, welcoming and spirited her heart was with her grandchildren. Eight of us and we were like the light of her eyes. Obviously , she had her favourites ! You could tell the joy in her heart when one of the grand children or children were visiting , photographs across her home would change, favourite food will be cooked, all favourite snacks would be ordered and our chubbiest hug would be given at any point of time.

I would love to snuggle to her but she had a rule. She would wait for you to fall asleep and then gently take her side of the bed. I would always complain and then she would give me a hug. I remember my childhood crying incessantly when she left post our vacations. I would hold on to the pillow she slept on for days imagining I was still snuggled up to her.

I vividly remember our summer vacations at her home.

When I stopped believing in dragons


It was a long time ago when I read all the Russian folk tales , my father used to get. It was a yearning for the next book, and the next book, and the next. There was a small exhibition that used to get organised in my city, diligently every year. And for me it was a delight, piles of books, with their hardcovers, beautifully illustrated competing for my attention.

I was drawn to the lucidity of the stories, the simplicity of the imagination and the strong voices of the protagonists. Or was it my state of mind as a kid which made me believe , everything is possible. The dragons breathing fire, flying through the vastness of the sky and the feeling of getting transported to this world, effortlessly,sans television, sans video games.

To me , the illustration of the dragon, was killer. I still remember their faces , those jaw lines, those fierce eyes which had a kind twinkle and the tail that was resplendent and magnificent. Today, when I go through my daily humdrum , challenges and struggles, reliving those reading moments give me a kick. It still makes me believe in dragons, in lands beyond our realm, in adventures inexplicable and I realise again ,it’s my state of mind.

What is that we lose when we grow up? We lose the innocence to believe in stories, we lose the confidence to read another one next time, we lose the openness to understand imagination and above all we lose the importance of our minds.

It is the greatest place we can rush to when we are feeling ‘not so good about it.’ It is the greatest beach we can relax on when we are in troubled waters. It is the most refreshing drink that we can have when we want to soothe our nerves.

For me, the dragons never left my mind, they are still living in it,telling the stories they first narrated to me through those Russian folklores. In the hectic pace of life, most times it helps to revisit those dragons , fairies and pixies you left behind.

They are not just memories, they are tales of our growing up in a world that ‘could’ and not a world that ‘couldn’t’ .

Ladies,line up in a circle!


Hanging in the corners, humming my tune,
Fancy the things, me always do.
I stand in a line, that starts and ends,
I believe in a circle that just blends.

Building a dream from cakes to cream,
Chatting on music or just about anything that ‘sheens’.
Telling stories,climbing hills or just about anything that gels
I stand in a line, that feels like an end
I believe in a circle that twists and bends

Going back to what I dreamt of doing,
Or just about anything that I felt like creating,
Giving back or taking in.
I stand in a line, that breaks and melts
I believe in a circle that rests and connects.

Photo credit: From the internet