Business Standard

Service With A Smile

Dr A Parasuram-an waxes eloquent on the subject he has been teaching and researching for over fifteen years: The key to sustainable competitive advantage in today's markets is to build relationships with customers by serving them... not just selling to them. A professor at the University of Miami, Dr Parasuraman is acknowledged as one of the world's ten most influential figures in Quality by The Quality Review "" the must-read journal for global managers.

Dr Parasuraman is currently addressing a series of seminars in India to exchange ideas with Indian corporates on the all-important issues of delivering quality service and achieving customer satisfaction. Much has been said and written about manufacturing quality. But there is a need to sharpen focus on the quality of service, he explains. Without spewing jargon, he points out, The effort and resources required to acquire a new customer is at least six times more than that required to retain existing customers.

Even as a budding engineer at IIT in the '70s, Dr Parasuraman nurtured dreams of becoming a teacher. And his subsequent Masters at IIM Ahmedabad opened up new vistas. I was transported from the strictly black and white world of engineering to the complex and fuzzy world of marketing. Initially it was quite frustrating, he recalls. However, the MBA degree was his passport to the Indiana University in the US, where he completed his doctorate in marketing.

His only regret is that he could not complete his education in India because of the lack of awareness and facilities at that time. However, he adds, Things are changing at a dramatic pace in India. People are striving towards quality instead of merely talking about it.

Like most non-resident Indians, Dr Para-suraman always wanted to return home, but one thing led to another... And he is now comfortably settled in Florida with his wife "" a domestic engineer, as he puts it "" and their three children.

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