Osaka Journal

Some random photos from Osaka. Two from the giant Ferris wheel in Osaka, One of Universal studios and another of me in front of Hard Rock Cafe (that's a first. My photo)






Vodafone Sucks

I've really had it with Vodafone. This post comes after about 8-10 complaints to them. Here's what I think about them:

  1. Don't care about the customer
  2. Advertise falsely
  3. Don't care to respond back
  4. Call center executives are always looking to shove off customers
  5. Most call center executives are dumb beyond belief
  6. Lack of communications
  7. Don't want to solve problems

False advertising: They've put up boards all around my office, as well as in office, advertising .50 paise STD rates. To avail them, you need to contact their call center and top up a Rupee 49 amount. When I did call up, the executive, Anil, told me that there was no such scheme existent for postpaid, and even in prepaid, I had to go for a certain plan. When I told him about the advertising, he simply started repeating my rental plan back to me. After insisting that I was not a moron, and that I knew about my own plan, I asked to be transferred to the manager. Pat came the reply " The manager is in a meeting" .
This is their standard reply, and they have no other when faced with no answers

Billing: While shifting from Mumbai to Hyderabad, I made sure that I informed them that I wanted to terminate my connection. Their call center directed me to their store, where I did go to, in Mira Road Bhayander. After checking my outstanding, they asked me to pay that amount, and then confirmed that my account had no outstanding and it was closed.
Voila! Next month I received my bill asking for a further payment of Rupee 150. Though not concerned by the amount, I called them up, and asked the reason why I was being charged this. At this point I was in Hyderabad, and the call center in Hyderabad asked me to speak with the Mumbai one. So, I spent 20 bucks, called their center, and spoke to another nitwit named Saif. He was as usual unable to solve my problem, and as already stated, when I summoned the manager, He/She was in a meeting.

Connectivity: I was facing call drops, and called up, and got the same sort of dis satisfactory reply. Connectivity remained the same and I continued facing call drops

I am not alone though. I've taken some links highlighting the pains one faces when they take Vodafone. As I have told Vodafone, unfortunately, this is India, and I cannot sue them for these. Otherwise, they happen to be on of the worst Mobile service providers on the planet.

Other aggrieved customers:

 Note: These are 5 out of 443,000 results in an India specific Google search. 

And oh, they are NOT "HAPPY TO HELP" 


Patterns and Marketing

Early in my marketing career, I learnt a very important lesson. Customers follow a 'PATTERN' . Seth Godin calls them "Tribes".

My ex boss, and my friend Abhay very recently, always spoke of 'Patterns'. They kept insisting to me that if one can deduce the patterns of customers, one can sell more effectively. Somehow, I've always felt this is a good way of understanding customer behavior (an area which intrigues me most). It was only when I looked at Google Analytics, and then at Trendsmap (a tool which shows Twitter trends from all around the world), that I got thinking. What if one can integrate what both these tools do, and integrate it with various marketing tools, so as to emerge with patterns.

The image below is a screenshot from Trendsmap

The next image is from Google Analytics

Now, imagine an integration with a survey, or with that email campaign you sent. Suppose you have a survey question: "What influences your soap purchase?" and the answers are

  1. Smell
  2. Not harsh on skin
  3. Economical
  4. Neat design. 
Now assign different color flags to each answer; red for option 1, green for option2, yellow for option 3 and blue for option 4.

Then suppose we integrate online surveys with Google Maps, so that you can watch results pop up in real time. Imagine the flags popping up with each click on your survey. The color coding makes it easy to identify, and the density of a certain color can help you detect the said "Patterns".

Here's a few uses I can see for this sort of data:
  • Surveys: Imagine the patterns that can emerge over a period of time. You can easily compare the color flags over a period of time to see pattern changes. Strangely, if you watch National Geographic, they've used this technique to track migration patterns of animals.
  • Emails: Tracking email links is a tedious job. If you have a newsletter, it becomes even worser. Looking at patterns, one can have tuned, targeted mails for various regions, based on user trends
  • Social media: This is pretty easy, and a lot of it is already being implemented
  • Sales team: Will be of great use to them. They can keep tagging their sales made on an interactive map, which can be shared with the marketing department. This can help he marketing team further establish usage trends, areas where products/ services are selling, product/services sales in respective areas, revenue maps for customers etc.
  • Website: Create a map (2D) of your website, and track links. What would be interesting is if we can have a 'linktrail' of each customer; i.e. where does he click first, his 2nd click, and so on. If the entire trail can be mapped onto a pattern map, you have a consumer behavior map for your website. Optimise as much as you like after that.

Avinash Kaushik, of Occam's Razor and Google Analytics fame, remarks that analytics are easy, and unless you drill down, the simple mind cannot ascertain the key points from the data exhibited.

Perhaps this 'Pattern' detection will make it easy for the amateur researcher, or marketing executive to provide reports. Also, it might help make marketing a more reportable part of business (which it isn't right now).


One little Twitter bird sat on the wall

                                  (Courtesy of

I've been a pretty mute spectator on the Twitter thing. After having joined it in February, I've watched it grow. The fanfare has been getting extremely loud, probably too loud. Here's what about seven months on Twitter has taught me. My analysis on any subject tends to be simple, with focus on the benefits and the misfits.


  1. It's instant. Possibly the instantest (forgive the word twist)
  2. It helps you learn
  3. It's an instant database (not a long-term one though) of the best sites, information, snippets, you-name-it-you-got-it, on the internet
  4. It can/might help you influence people
  5. It has a SUPERB SEARCH option (real-time)- You can read this great post by Ann Smarty of SEOsmarty fame
  6. Superb way to increase website visits
  7. SEO: Links, backward and forward, Click throughs, optimized clicks, customized landing pages and much more
  8. It helps increase a company brand value (Personal brand value also)
  9. If you are the celebrity lover (which I am not), you could follow a lot of them (none follow you back of course), message them(expect no reply) and feel good about it


  1. It does not help you make friends. Common misconception. If that's your intention, head over to Facebook 
  2. Horrible for ad placement- Too many reasons. If you post now, it might reflect at any position on your followers Twitter Dashboard. Also, your ads will disappear with the occurrence of fresher tweets. This compared to email where you Ad remains in the Inbox, and can be read later if need be
  3. It is ruled by Narcissists, spammers, porn artists and people with pointless tweets
  4. Contrary to belief, it does not really help you influence people- Suppose you follow a company on Twitter. Has their publishing a white-paper influenced you
  5. It does not help sales
  6. Most people are busy tweeting. It's akin to you conversing with someone, but the conversation is one-way; while you are talking about soccer, your freind is talking about the next rock concert
  7. It is SPAMMY- Financial help, PORN (parents should never allow their kids, though Kids hate twitter anyways), Learn how to add a Zillion followers and the list goes on.
Marketing angle

If we take a marketers' angle (I am a marketer), here are few things one should consider before joining the Twitter bandwagon:

  1. Be very clear on what you want to Tweet about
  2. Don't just join for the heck of it. Formulate a plan of how frequently you are going to tweet in a day, what you are going to tweet about, and what kind of customers you can hope to influence
  3. Twitter is a 24/7 machine. You will require a resource (s) who must monitor your account
  4. Don't neglect your followers. Make sure you reply back/ Direct Message on time
  5. Don't expect sales from Twitter. It's a platform where you can hope to influence and not sell
  6. Twitter to me is the best substitute for word-of-mouth. If you tweet something of substance, which gets retweeted, you could expect a Pingomatic (My word: I'll elucidate in my next post) effect.
  7. Use an URL shortener like It not only helps you track your tweets, but also helps you get Retweeted
  8. Always Tweet within a limit of 100-110 characters. This allows for better Retweet value, and also the possibility of Follower remarks
  9. Try and Rewtweet also. This shows that you care about the community at large.
  10. Don't expect 1000 followers a day. Always remember the "Quality is better than Quantity" motto
  11. Give back: Have incentives (the #moonfruit campaign), offer prizes, organize competitions, have charity auctions 
  12. Last but not the least, remember that Twitter is social media. You do not thrive in society by being alone, not interacting with people and just living on an island.

(All icons courtesy of Smashing Magazine)