[Epics For Entrepreneurs] A difficult customer

26th Jul 2013
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King Dasharatha had an esteemed guest that day, Sage Vishwamitra.

Dasharatha welcomed him with folded hands, gave him a high seat, performed all the respectful duties that a king, for that matter anyone, should do to a guest.

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Vishwamitra enjoyed his hospitality, and started praising the king, "Oh Dasharatha, you always support sages like me when we have some trouble!"

"Guruji, that’s my duty", Dasharatha said calmly, "Please tell me what you need and it will be taken care immediately."

"We are doing a yajna in the forest, and we are not able to complete it properly, because demons are constantly troubling us."

"How dare they disturb you!" Dasharatha was bristling with anger, "I shall send my army to your forest immediately. They will protect you from those nasty demons."

"I don't need your army Dasharatha; I just need one person, your son Rama!"

Hearing this, Dasharatha went pale, He couldn't dream of parting his son Rama, even for a single day. Leaving him in front of dangerous demons was out of question!

"Rama is still a small boy Guruji", Dasharatha stuttered, "He doesn't even have practice in warfare. Instead of him, let me come with you and ensure your safety."

Vishwamitra is known for his anger, and Dasharatha's refusal to send Rama made him furious, "I want Rama, and Rama only, if you are not ready to send him, I will go back empty handed!"

Now, Dasharatha didn't know what to do, He was not willing to send Rama for a risky war; at the same time, he was also afraid Vishwamitra may curse his kingdom, if he refuses to do so.

Sage Vasishta, Guru of Dasharatha's family, was seeing all this drama and he called Dasharatha for a private discussion, 'Oh King, don't worry about your son; Send him with Vishwamitra, that will bring him glory!"

Dasharatha was still not fully convinced, but this gave him some confidence and he sent Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana, with Sage Vishwamitra.

When we go through this popular story, there are some simple lessons we can learn, on how to manage a difficult customer!

Of course, Vishwamitra was not a customer of Dasharatha, but there is no harm in assuming so, and see how well he handled this situation.

  • First, Vishwamitra came to Dasharatha's court with a particular problem (trouble of demons)
  • Before making his request, he liberally praised the king, If Dasharatha noticed this carefully, he would have sensed that the request is going to be 'difficult' or at least 'unusual', certainly not 'regular'
  • Still, Dasharatha went by the standard process and suggested a proper, acceptable solution (sending army)
  • But, Vishwamitra didn't accept it & made another request (send Rama) which is not in line with the standard process (Rama was a small boy, not ready for warfare yet)
  • As per Company (Ayodhya) policies, Rama can't be sent for this task, because he is a resource that Dasharatha wanted to protect from any risk
  • But, being a customer, Vishwamitra wants this non standard request to be granted
  • You can't say "No" to a customer, hence, Dasharatha tries to manage the situation by offering himself at his service (Which is still against the process, but Dasharatha is confident he can manage the demons, because of his experience, Sending an Experienced resource to a risky project is always preferred!)
  • Still, Vishwamitra is not happy, he wants Rama only, and threatens to take his business elsewhere if this request is not granted
  • CEO Dasharatha is clueless, he knows the customer is wrong, but still he doesn't want to lose business, or his brand image
  • So he takes the advice of an industry consultant (Vasishta), He knows the future much better than Dasharatha, and predicts Rama is going to be fine
  • Dasharatha listens to his words, but makes his own decision, to make an exception to the company policy
  • While doing so, he sends Rama, and Lakshmana (Whom Vishwamitra didn't ask for), this is because, to please an angry customer, you can't stop with just satisfying his request, you need to go one step ahead and do something more!

Now, we know that Dasharatha was a good CEO, because his decision resulted in a grand success for Ayodhya!

About the author:

N. Chokkan is the Co-Founder & Director at CRMIT, Bengaluru. He was previously the director at InFact Infotech before which he was the principle Consultant at BroadVision. He blogs at http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/ (English) and http://nchokkan.wordpress.com/ (Tamil).

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