Friday, February 26, 2010

Give Yourself The 40% Advantage

Have you seen the new HDFC Bank ATM ad? It's neat. And I think there’s a nice message hidden in there somewhere, for all of us!

It’s the ad where a young man parks his car near the Bank’s ATM, and is being watched by this suspicious looking rouge. The evil guy makes a signal to his team – to move in for the kill. Turns out he’s actually a guy whose job it is to tow vehicles that are parked in ‘no parking’ areas. And just as they reach under the car to hook the vehicle, they hear the car honk. The driver is back from the ATM in a flash. The Message: HDFC Bank ATM’s help you withdraw cash – 40% faster!

It’s a nice ad, and anyone who has withdrawn cash from an ATM (or parked his car in a no parking area for just 2 minutes!) will find it easy to relate to. And I like it because it’s built on a nifty little consumer insight, easily converted into a benefit.

What HDFC Bank does is actually very simple. The system remembers the amount you “usually” withdraw, and the account number, and the preferred language and stores it as “My favourite”. And when you click on “My favourite”… you get your cash, in a flash – and off you go. The number of screens you need to work through comes down from 9 to 5. And hence the 40% faster advantage!

So while all Bank ATMs remember your name when you put in your card, HDFC Bank goes a step further. It remembers the amount of cash you usually withdraw, and your preferred language. And that thoughtful little extra makes for a 40% faster service. Simple. But effective!
And I think we could all learn from the Bank and get a 40% advantage in our relationships with other people too. Here’s how.

Next time you meet someone, don’t just stop at getting to know his or her name. Go a step further. Find out just a bit more. Show interest in the other person – and you’ll soon get to hear about her daughter’s school, her favourite movie, their last holiday to an exotic island, the missing driver’s licence, or his favourite football team. Pay attention, and you’ll get to hear several interesting, unique and memorable stories. Stories that will help you connect far better the next time you meet.

We all love it when the person you meet is able to recall a small incident or a peculiar trait. It brings a smile on the face. It breaks barriers, makes you feel closer. And the other person immediately becomes a nicer person. You hand him the 40% advantage!

And as the following story shows, great leaders learn to do that well.

Indra Nooyi the CEO of PepsiCo was on a visit to India several years ago. And in my first meeting with her, she noticed I had a plaster on my left arm. I explained that I had broken my hand while playing the annual cricket match between Pepsi and KPMG. We joked about fitness levels and talked about India’s passion with the game of cricket, before getting on with the business at hand.

We met six months later in Purchase, Pepsico’s headquarters near New York. (I have always thought it ironic that one of the best Sales organizations in the world is headquartered in a place called Purchase!). And Indra’s opening remark? “Good to see you again Prakash. And I am glad you haven’t been jumping around a cricket field and breaking your bones!” Hard to explain why, but that opening line has stayed with me ever since – and everytime I think of Indra, that seemingly innocuous line comes back to me!

Next time you meet someone new, go beyond the name. Show interest. Listen in. And find that little nugget of information that can give you a huge edge in future.

Trust me. It makes a difference. As the HDFC Bank guys are telling us, a 40% difference!