The Verghis Group

Don’t expect great food in a place with beautiful laughing women…

By Phil Verghis on April 18, 2012

and other hints from an economist foodie. A great read, and one I found myself nodding with as a fellow foodie…


After a hectic week, keynote event at NASSCOM GEPS event

By Phil Verghis on March 2, 2011

I’ve been in India for a few event-filled days. First was the 1/2 hour traffic jam at 1 AM in Mumbai’s airport — took that long to get from the 3rd floor to the road. Productive set of meetings with a client in Mumbai. Tuesday was a 4 hour early morning drive to Pune, and a full day with a second client. Wednesday was a way-too-early-for-humans flight to Hyderabad, for another day of meetings with a client.

Thursday, I’ll be delivering a keynote address to an influential group of India-based service executives that I mentor – the NASSCOM GEPS team. The keynote? The white-hot ‘Measures, Metrics & Madness’. Knowing the audience, I’m looking forward to the Q&A…

The keynote is based on the workshop coming up on March 18th in Boston.

Nice touch United Airlines – *almost* perfect!

By Phil Verghis on January 18, 2011

Thanks to another generous helping of  freezing-rain-snow-mix, I sat in my car inching along the highway en route to Boston’s Logan Airport. Under normal circumstances I would have been at the airport by now. I decided to call United’s 1K line (aka “I-kid-you-not-you-fly-too-much” line). After I explained my situation I was told a note was put in my record stating there was a good chance I’d miss my flight and to put me on the waitlist for the next flight out.

As it turned out, I *did* make it to the airport in time – barely. As I dashed to the gate, I was asked if it was OK that they swapped my seat out with someone else as they wanted to be together for the flight. Obviously not a problem.

Fast forward 10 minutes after takeoff. The purser comes up and tells the lady in my original seat how glad they were that she made it on time; they made sure her seat wasn’t given away since she was a valued customer and that they really appreciated her business. As the purser walked away she-who-was-in-my-original-seat turned to her companion and said “See honey, I told you we should have checked in earlier, they must have known we checked in only 45 minutes before the flight’”. He replied with the world-weary sigh known to all long-married men. “Yes dear.”

I had to stifle my laugh. As we landed I told the purser and she burst out laughing too…

Superb service and even though it was delivered to the wrong person (quite understandably), I heard it and appreciated it.

Zen and the art of aircraft engine maintenance

By Phil Verghis on December 17, 2009

(From the Dec ’09 issue of my newsletter, The Verghis View. Get your own subscription at my home page  – )

Many of you have heard me refer to software maintenance fees as “bad” revenue. While it is very lucrative, it’s bad because customers are unhappy paying it – ask any CIO. To give you a sense of how massive these fees are, Oracle made $12 billion last year – no, that’s not a typo – $12 billion from services and maintenance fees, according to Information Week.

I did some research on how other industries demonstrate value for their maintenance fees, and found it in an unlikely source – aircraft engines. (From this article in the Economist.)

All the major players – Rolls Royce, GE, and Pratt & Whitney – reportedly lose money on the sale of the engine. They make up to seven times the revenue from servicing and selling parts.

Interestingly enough, Rolls Royce has embraced two concepts that go beyond what the vast majority of companies provide in the software space.

First, they abandoned the traditional “break fix” model. Instead, they have taken real-time monitoring to a new level. In a world of mind-numbing complexity, they have (thankfully!) assumed that customer-impacting failures are to be minimized.

In their operations center in Derby, England, vast amounts of data is collected in real time from thousands of engines in flight. This flood of data is immediately analyzed and, if a problem is detected, Rolls Royce informs the pilot in flight. Repairs are arranged at the next stop, rather than waiting for it to become a full-blown emergency.

The data analysis continues after each flight is over. This helps Rolls Royce anticipate future problems and reduce the number of emergency repairs – and unhappy customers. As you can imagine, whenever a plane is yanked from service, the ripple effect on an airline’s schedule, revenues and customer satisfaction is non-trivial.

Real-time information monitoring saves Rolls Royce lots of money in terms of better-designed engines, and increases the time between engine rebuilds (now up to 10 years).

The second thing RR does differently is to charge by the hour the engine is run. This makes perfect sense. The aviation industry’s equivalent of “shelfware” is idle planes parked in the desert. The struggling airline industry loves it. After all, why pay for maintenance on expensive engines when your planes are grounded?

The lesson? Don’t settle for break-fix when you can do far better than that. Your service and support team can actually improve your customer’s business, while charging fees that make more sense for the customer.

In this example Rolls Royce gets paid very lucrative services revenue only if the service is being used. So it’s in both Rolls Royce’s and the airline’s interest to keep planes in the air – one of the key drivers to reducing cost per passenger.

Look ahead to 2010. How can you use customer information to improve their business – and your own?

Travel to/from US a lot? See what I found

By Phil Verghis on November 29, 2009

As I get ready for another long-haul trip (Thailand/India), I found something that can dramatically cut down the time it takes to re-enter the US. After a 20+ hour journey, there is nothing more agonizing than the ‘last mile’ – waiting in long lines for customs and immigration.

If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, and travel frequently — check out: Let me know how useful you find the program.

Jalapeno Jelly

By Phil Verghis on November 2, 2009

Just got back from a trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Was re-introduced to some lovely food as well as a new one for me — Jalapeno Jelly. It had some ‘warmth’ to it, and was actually pretty nice.

New customer experience – a wonderful example

By Phil Verghis on August 3, 2009

One of the most under-rated yet powerful tools we have at our disposal as customer support/service folks is a well thought out customer lifecycle plan (complete with a timeline). This involves formally mapping out customer touchpoints along the customer lifecycle starting with the transition from sales to support all the way to ‘exiting’ the customer when they leave the  business.

As part of this lifecyle and timeline, the first few days of a customer relationship is recognized and treated as importantly as in a personal relationship. A little effort at the right time will go a long way in making the relationship smoother. 

I was given a powerful reminder of this yesterday while visiting ValueLabs as part of a client engagement in Hyderabad, India yesterday.

I was welcomed at the airport by a driver with a sign, and an admin assistant. I was given a local Indian cell phone with all the numbers I would need pre-programmed. If you travel a lot, you know that the cost of using your cell phone internationally can take a year off your retirement savings, and figuring out all the local codes vs. national codes is not a trivial matter. This was a most welcome touch.

When I arrived at the facility the next day, the cab driver (arranged by the company) had clearly been given instructions to call ahead to let them know I was on the way.  I was welcomed with flowers and a ‘VIP’ badge. Very nice touches, and it showed an attention to detail for the customer  experience that is unusal.

What are you doing to make your new customer experience a special one?

Greetings from London

By Phil Verghis on June 16, 2009

I’m in London at the moment, at a client site for a few days. (Note to self: Try to avoid overnight flights and going directly to work after only 1 hour sleep.)

It’s always refreshing going to a ‘remote’ site, and something I’d recommend all of you that manage global teams do so every so often. The perspectives are different — from a customer’s point of view and from an employee’s point of view.

Sample pictures from Trip to India, Doha (Qatar) and Dubai

By Phil Verghis on May 16, 2009

Talk for NASSCOM-GEPS forum

By Phil Verghis on May 16, 2009

While in Bangalore, I did a keynote session for NASSCOM’s GEPS forum on Saturday, for whom I have been an advisor for a few years. The turnout was great, with senior executives Avaya, Infosys, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP Labs, ValueLabs, Yahoo and more participating.

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