Customer Service BenchmarkHe is not an MBA or even a graduate. He says he passed higher secondary school and put afull stop to studies because he did not feel like studying anymore. But by going all out toplease his customers, pampering them with added amenities at no extra cost, G Annadurai, a28-year-old auto driver, is setting new benchmarks in customer service in Chennai. Annadurai owns a ‘share auto’ that can carry six people. Step into his auto, and you would find over a dozen magazines and newspapers, neatly stacked on the sides and top, a wi-fi enabled environment, a mini TV set playing recently recorded news bulletins, a brand new tablet to browse and send mails, and a recharge facility for prepaid mobiles. Auto Anna is a popular auto driveramong IT professionals in Chennai (Photos: P C Vinoj Kumar)Even upmarket hair salons or coffee shops do not offer such a wide collection of magazinesand newspapers in Chennai. Even if they do, many just keep old magazines, but notAnnadurai, who is meticulous about anything he does.“I don’t keep old magazines. The issues I keep in my auto are all recent ones,” saysAnnadurai, who spends around Rs.4000 on buying magazines and newspapers alone eachmonth.He records news bulletins from leading TV channels during his lunch break and plays themfor his customers.“Mostly, major news of the daygets reported in the afternoonbulletins. When people reach theirhomes and watch the headlines inTV or see the morning papers, theywould remember seeing the news inmy auto,” says Annadurai, who ispopular among IT professionalswho travel by his auto in OldMahabalipuram Road (OMR).Several IT companies are located onthis road, and employees from these companies regularly take his auto. “Many have becomemy friends. People from other States introduce their parents to me when they visit Chennai.
The parents are happy to meet a ‘good auto driver’. Some keep in touch with me even afterthey leave Chennai. It gives them a secure feeling that they know someone they could trust ina faraway place where their children are working,” he says.His customers affectionately call him ‘Anna’ (short for Annadurai) which incidentally alsomeans ‘elder brother’ in Tamil. Even older people love the pun and enjoy calling him thatway.On special days and occasions, Anna offers discounts to his customersIt is his attitude of giving that has endeared him to many. For, besides the facilities in theauto, he finds other pretexts to ‘give’ and make people happy. On special days and occasions, he offers discounts to people. On women’s day, women above 50 years can ride free in his auto. On mother’s day, he lets any mother who is travelling with her son or daughter, ride free. The offer is valid for both mother and child. On Valentine’s Day, lovers can ride without paying in his auto. On his own birthday, which falls onSeptember 15, the birthday he shares with the charismatic DMK founder C N Annadurai – hewas named after the DMK leader – he offers 50 percent discount to all customers and a 1rupee chocolate to each of them.Teachers are the only category of people who are offered free rides in his auto on all days ofthe year. “They are special people. You take any other profession, including doctors. Whomade them what they are? The credit goes to teachers who taught them the subject. So, that’swhy the special honour for teachers,” he clarifies.The most interesting part is that he does not pitch his auto as a new age auto or a ‘wi-fi auto’to attract customers. In fact, seeing the auto from outside, there is nothing to distinguish itfrom the hundreds of other autos you find on the road.A mini TV set plays recently recorded news bulletins from leading channelsQuery him on that, and he comes up with an original explanation. “Sir, I don’t want to allure– (this is the literal translation, because he never said ‘attract) – people. Whatever I am doingis part of my effort to satisfy my customers, because they are the ones who are paying me andmaking my livelihood.”Satisfied customers have offered him tips. But he does not accept a paisa more than the fixedfare, which ranges from Rs. 5 to Rs. 15 depending upon the distance covered.“Seeing my work, many have realized the importance of giving and are doing their bit to helpothers. People are inspired that if a person like me who earns about Rs.15000 - even after
spending around Rs.8000 on all my customer related activities – is doing these things, theyneed to do more,” he says.- See more at: http://www.theweekendleader.com/Heroism/1531/anna%E2%80%99s-auto.html By P C Vinoj Kumar Chennai