When I returned to my home country (India) after a hiatus of 7 years in United States, I started observing things in a new perspective. Entrepreneurship was something that I awaited to embrace for a long time, ever since I completed my Masters degree.

Finally, I got to be part of my dad’s business in trading Timber, plywoods and other interior products to home owners, builders and architects. It was exciting to learn the trade and the novelties of doing business from my dad. Our company “Sree Padma Timber Corporation” has a great reputation for doing business in straight and righteous way.

I believed in automating the retail processes and scaling up business to new geographies. However, my father reminded me that retail trading is done based on the relationship that the founder of the business builds with its customers. In some occasions, automating tasks will not do any good. I noticed how he talks with customers and I found something fascinating.

My father first talks to the customers and tries to understand the need for their timber requirements. Sometimes due to oversight, home owners ask for extra sizes of timber and plywoods, and hence will cost them extra money. However, my father suggests a better way of doing things that will save them money. This may reduce the cost of goods that we sell to them.

If you notice, my father is ready to reduce his own profits and company’s turnover for the benefit of the customer. In my humble opinion, that’s what is called ethical business. I am so proud to learn such high principles of doing business from my dad.

It’s a great learning to me on how a business should be done… It should be carried out with empathy towards the customer. In essence, we should provide value to the customer and not just the goods. That according to me is a retail innovation in building a customer-centric business.

Yet another strong principle of customer service that I had learned in my class at Stanford Graduate School of Business is the “Door Bell” phenomenon. Have you noticed how a door bell works. When we visit someone’s place and hit the door bell, we would be wondering about what next. We will not know how long to wait, whether we should hit the bell again, or leave.

In business, we should never let our customer experience that door-bell phenomenon. The customer should always be informed about the next steps and educated about what to expect next. This puts the customer at ease and builds more trust on the brand. This has been well practiced by the best e-commerce firms like Amazon and Flipkart. They will keep the buyer always informed on the status of their order at every stage.

Categories: Blog


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