Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indian tennis' young brigade can achieve great things!

It is very heartening to see that Indian tennis' young brigade beat the New Zealand team 5-0 in the latest Davis Cup tie.

India ranks a lowly 24 in the Davis Cup list, but Yuki Bhambhri, Vishnu Vardhan, Sanam Singh & Divij Sharan have the makings of a strong team.

No one can forget the remarkable contributions of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, but it is not right to expect them to on and on.

With the young team raring to go, I'm Indian tennis will surely move up the pecking order surely, though slowly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Utterly unacceptable and rude service at Odyssey outlet on ECR Road, Chennai

Caveat: This is a RANT, but published so that my friends save some valuable time shopping books and gifts.

Yours sincerely was at the receiving end of utterly unacceptable and rude service at the Odyssey outlet on ECR Road in Thiruvanmiyur.

I have been shopping at Odyssey right from the days it started as a small outlet in Gandhi Nagar many, many years ago -- 17 years to be accurate when they opened in Adyar, Chennai.

Ashwin was one of the partners then, and packaged great customer service with an excellent range of quality products. This unbeatable combination resulted in great growth, a swankier outlet, and ultimately the retail chain being purchased by Deccan Chronicle holdings.

I must have provided Odyssey well beyond a two lakhs in business over the years -- in music, cards, gifts, gift certificates for my Quiz programs, gift certificates for birthdays, and most importantly books that I love to read. Being a regular customer, I was accorded a small but regular discount -- something extended to loyal customers. This continued up to my last visit on 26th August.

First off, it was shocking to see that the range of products had shrunk a lot. Books had yellowing pages and frayed covers, but were all being sold at full price. Service was skeletal, with very few of the old staff in place.

I still picked up books, gifts and cards worth Rs. 3,000+ and went over to check out. 

When I requested the usual discount at the time of billing, the cashier (who knew me as a regular shopper) called for the Manager.

I wonder how they ever recruited this man Saravanan for a Retail Manager role. First, off, he was officious, and totally unfriendly. When the cashier conveyed my request, he turned it down outright. I explained that I had been a customer since the Ashwin ownership days, and that I had provided very substantial business.

I later came to understand Deccan Chronicle has been financial trouble, and that they have recently shuttered their Express Avenue store. This might be a reason for stopping the discount program.

Instead of patiently explaining this patiently, Saravanan was in no mood to listen and became quite aggressive in language.

When I calmly said I could put this kind of service on Twitter, Facebook and my blog, he was very blase about this. He then retorted, 'You are welcome to do anything you want."

I went ahead and tweeted then and there, showing him how this message would have reached 125+ Twitter followers, 425 more through the automatic post on Facebook.

No reaction.

Worse, of the two gifts I had given for gift-wrapping, only one was given to me. I had to demand to get the other one that I had already paid for.

Quite an advertisement for customer service isn't it?

Marketing research suggests that the cost of acquiring a new customer is 6x the cost of retaining a loyal shopper.

Odyssey and its owner Deccan Chronicle obviously does not understand this.

If this trend continues, the future will continue to be very bleak for them.

The bottomline? Shop at this Odyssey store at your own risk!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Predictions of a Giraffe on Chennai Superkings making it a hat-trick of IPL Titles

If I keep sticking my neck out like this, it will become as elongated as a giraffe!
Anyways, here it goes for today's match, and CSK's chances of making it a hat-trick of IPL titles:1. My estimate of CSK's chances of beating Delhi Daredevils in today's match is 65%. (See Rationale A below)2. If Chennai do beat the daredevils from the national capital today, chances of them beating Kolkata in the final on the 27th is 60%. (See Rationale B below)
3. Therefore, combined probability of CSK winning the IPL title three times in a row = 0.65 x 0.60 = 0.39, or 39%.That does not make KKR's chances 61%!

If Chennai makes it today, KKR's chances of beating Chennai at the home ground of the roaring Lions would only be 40%.Thus, right now, KKR has a 1% edge over CSK for a tournament win. 

However, if CSK win today, their chances go to 60% versus 40% for KKR.
Go Chennai! Give us more joy today!
Rationale A (CSK's 65% chances at Chennai today)
a. DD's batting is still top-heavy, and not very suited for the slow Chennai track (unless the track changes character suddenly a la Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde).b. DD's bowling attack is also highly pace oriented, with Morne Morkel, Umesh Yada & Varun Aaron supported by Irfan Pathan. Sehwag stuck to this attack against Kolkata and paid the price. While he may not make the same mistake again, their spin department is not as strong as Chennai.c. Chennai's bowling attack is far more suited to their home pitch, though they have not mastered it this season. While a leg-spinner is lacking, Ashwin, supported by Raina as off-spinners and Jakati, supported by Jadeja as as left-arm spinners can really "turn" the pressure on.
d. The home team's batsmen are peaking at the right time, with Hussey and Badri in the team adding stability to a line-up of aggressive stroke players. Captain Cool's blazing form in the last match is a great sign.
e. CSK are great at dealing with pressure, thereby giving their fans pleasure! Especially in the play-offs, they are masters of mastering pressure. The fact that they restricted Delhi to 114 in the previous match here would certainly give them psychological advantage.
f. Chennai's performance in the play-offs has been truly intimidating to opponents. This cannot be brushed off.
g. As if the roaring lions don't have enough support already, there will be over 12,500 more fans seated for this match. Imagine the adrenaline rush Chennai will receive with so many more full-throated fans all whistling for the home team, acting as a truly strong 12th player against 11.

All this said, Sehwag and Warner, both big match players, are sheer dynamite who can blast the opposition in a matter of a few overs. The KEY batsman for Delhi will be Mahela Jayawardene. He will absolutely relish the Chennai surface, using his quicksilver footwork and use of the crease to possible dent the dominance of the Chennai tweakers. 
If Dhoni's men can get the dynamic Delhi opening duo and Jayawardene fairly cheaply, they will have a better than 65% chance of getting through to the finals!

Rationale B (CSK's 60% chances against KKR) if they win todaya. KKR will obviously be much tougher opposition in the finals -- they have a terrific bowling attack suited to the Chennai track (Narine, Abdulla, Shakib, Yusuf & Balaji, not to mention, Kallis and Rajat Bhatia).b. KKR's batting line-up starting with brave captain Gambhir and Kallis, is also far better suited to face Chennai's spinners.
c. KKR are VERY HUNGRY for victory, but this could go against them in a high-pressure match which an IPL final certainly is. Chennai's proven capability in soaking up pressure will be a big advantage.
d. As detailed in Rationale A, Chennai's bowling and batting still have an edge over KKR on their home ground. They know the pitch far better. If they reach the finals, they would already have played nine matches on this ground this year, compared to KKR's one.
e. The home crowd will be out with FULL SUPPORT for the roaring lions, and this can be quite intimidating for the opposition.
f. Chennai's record in the IPL so far, especially in the play-offs, is also very intimidating to KKR.