Tuesday, April 20, 2010

People and Process Make the Different

I work in the IT line so one of the value propositions when proposing a new technology to a customer is that it should improve the productivity of the employees. With improved productivity it will bring about better service level to the end customer.

Of course introduction of new technology also require a supporting streamline process and the acceptance of the employee to achieve this objective. Therefore the return on investment in the new technology is determined by the people and processes supporting these technologies.

I received an SMS from my insurance company – Allianz - that the insurance of my other car will expire in a week time. Well it is good that they use technology to send reminder than using snail mail.

So I call ahead an hour before I reach their office making sure they have plenty of time to prepare. In fact the lady who picks up my call even asked for my car registration number and said she will prepare the quotation for me.

When I got into their office and ask for that lady, the first she asked me again is “Sir, what is your car registration number?” Well it looks like she has not done anything at all. Off she goes back to print the quotation and gave me a copy to check.

Once I agreed on the amount to be insured for this year, I gave them my credit card to be swiped for the amount and then started waiting for her to prepare the cover policy. Well it seems there is still separation of duty for this whole transaction to be completed.

She swiped the credit card but the processing of the credit is at another floor. She come back to me after 10 minutes and gave me the credit card without the credit slip. I then waited for another 20 minutes and there is still no sign of her.

I stood up and look around the office and found her answering phone calls. I signal her that I am in a hurry and she told me that the cover note is being processed. It looks like someone else in the department is doing the cover note and not her. So another 10 minutes delay before the cover note is ready.

When she passed me the cover note, I asked for the credit card slip and she told me that she needs to go to the 10th floor to collect it. Well by the time she comes back with the slip, it is already one hour since I walked in to the office. So does technology help? Hell no.

The way the process is put in place by this company to service their customer is absolutely ineffective. They don’t have a dedicated service counter and they still emphasized separation of duty so even with the use of technology there is no automation at all.

As I walked out of the office, I saw this expat who seems like a senior officer of the company and told him that the transaction took one hour to complete. He turned around and asked the lady what happened but I didn’t stay around to find out if he did anything. I am curious if he or any of his officers will bother to call me to find out if my complaint is valid.

3 years ago when I renewed my insurance there was a service counter so the process of renewing the insurance is very smooth. Everything is done with a counter staff and within 20 minutes (excluding waiting time), I will have my cover note and walk out of the office.

Two years ago Allianz took over the insurance business of that company and they decided not to have a counter. Even then last year experience of renewing my insurance with them was not so bad. That lady who served me was able to give me everything within 30 minutes. I don’t know why they are going backward this year and took one hour to complete just one transaction.

I also recently renewed the insurance of my giant but it was with another insurance company. The experience was totally different. All I did was walked into their counter, ask to renew the insurance. The officer gave me a payment slip and asked me to pay at another counter. After that I just wait for 5 minutes and the officer passed me the cover note and I am out of that place. All in less than 25 minutes time.

Anyway, after I got my cover note, I drove to the Public Bank branch where I got my car loan and asked to renew my road tax. The officer took down my car registration number, double check with the system on my details, wrote me a bank in slip, ask me to pay at the counter down stair. I pay at the designated counter without having to queue and the whole exercise took less than 8 minutes!

It is obvious that this bank has all the process in place and the right people to provide the services to their end customer. The technology is transparent in the service provided and it works because they have the right people and a streamline process to support it. That’s why I have been their customer for the last 10 years.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Accidents Waiting To Happen?

Yesterday I just posted about drivers jumping red light at the traffic junction outside the condo where I stay, and tonight, there was an accident at that traffic junction.

When I reached the traffic junction, I saw a red MyVi collided with a small van. I have no idea how this could happen as the MyVi was out of position from normal traffic flow.

Well I was curious so after I parked my car, I walked out to the scene of the accident as a large group of people already gathered there.

I asked one of the guy who was already there before me what happen and it seems the small car hit a tree and then slammed into side of the van. The impact has crumpled the front of the small car and debris were lying everywhere.

All I can hear is that a group more than 10 Chinese national arguing over who should pay for the damage and it seems they couldn't agree to the terms of settlement. The whole road leading out of to the main road was blocked by the cars and people talking in the middle of the road.

A tow truck was already at the scene waiting for the drivers to decide what to do. Because of the accident, the traffic junctions had jammed up because of curious passer-by slowing down to look at the scene.

I have no idea if the accident is due to the small car jumping the red light and swayed right too much, lost control and hit the tree and then hit the van that is passing by or due to other reason.

As there is no police on the scene so the owners continue to try to settle on their own. In the 10 minutes that I was there I didn't get much from arguments from those involved so I just walked home and thinking how many more such accidents waiting to happen in that traffic junction.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Do These Drivers Jump The Traffic Light Everyday?

I was in Penang three weeks ago and also was in Singapore last week and not once I saw anyone jump the red light. However when I am back to my own home, I am just embarrassed to see that drivers jumping the red light is a common scene in my own home town.

I don’t know what has happen to these Kuala Lumpur drivers but it seems a lot has started to take the law into their own hand. Maybe it is probably their attitude of “no one will catch me” so I don’t have to follow the law. It could be because their lives are so hectic that they don’t even have times to wait for that red light.

When I was in Penang I covered the entire east side of the island from north to south. Not once in any of the traffic lights that I have waited did I see anyone jumping the red light. Some areas like Batu Ferringi and Batu Maung has light traffics and every one waited for the light to turn green.

While I was in Singapore, I drove to Tao Payoh area to meet a friend and then went into the city and no one is breaking the law. Even as I was leaving the island using the Ayer Rajah Expressway I see that drivers are queuing to go into each traffic interchange and no one jump the queue like what I see in Kuala Lumpur.

On a daily basis coming back to my house I see so many drivers don’t even bother with the red light and just drive on. Of course there are many that obediently abide by the law and waited for the light to turn green before they drive on but there are just too many that don’t bothered. What is sad is that some of these drivers who jumped the red lights are residents of the condo that I am staying in.

I just got my first entry level DSLR which is supposedly has many features that used to be available only in the pro-level camera. So I thought why not try it on these drivers and see if I can capture a clear image with it. Here are some cars that I caught jumping the red light in the 10 minutes span that I was there.

Since this DLSR also boost a full HD video capability, let try to record a video and see how does it performs in capturing the images of cars jumping red lights. Well it comes out very well on my PC and I hope after conversion to FLV format it is as clear as well.

I have no doubt that these drivers will never dare to jump the red light in the city centre. They know the risks of doing that. However in this particular traffic junction, there is one section that has no through traffic. These drivers are just so impatient that they think they can risk their life and jump the red light instead of waiting for a clear signal.

Another factor is probably that since someone is doing it, why not me. Therefore it becomes a habit for them to just do it every day because they are used to it. On a daily basis, I see men, women, student of the nearby medical university, lorry drivers, school bus driver i all sort of cars are breaking the law.

I don’t expect the authority to come to this part of the town so I don’t think this will deter those drivers from continue to do it daily. Maybe the authority should consider programming the traffic lights so that the section that has not through traffic will turn green in a shorter time. I can see that drivers are impatient because it takes too long for the lights to turn green when there is no traffic coming from that section.

With more condo coming up in this area, I think this traffic junction is going to become very busy very soon so I wonder if these drivers will continue to jump the red light anymore.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Want To Upgrade The Rims and Tyres of Your Toyota Alphard

Once an owner found his giant (Toyota Alphard), one of the most common upgrade the owner looking for is what size of rims and tyres to upgrade to. I got this question quite often from my readers too.

This is the standard rim for AX/MZ/MZ/MZG. It is shod with 205/65/R16 tyres.

The PFL AS and MS has 17-inch rim with 225/55/R17 tyres. This is the PFL 17-inch rim.

The NFL AS and MS is also shod with 17-inch rim but it has a cleaner design as shown below.

I have tested both the 16-inch and 17-inch fitted on the giant and I feel there is much different in the ride quality. The 17-inch will feel slightly heavier because the rims and tyres are both heavier than the 16-inch set up. Also the extra 20mm contact patch on the 17-inch will give more rolling resistance so it will take a little bit more effort to get the tyres moving but not a lot.

If you want to upsize the rim, then the next option could be 18, 19 or even 20-inch. The correct tyre profile for each should be 235/50/R18, 245/45/R18 and 255/35/R20. Of course, the bigger the rim, the unsprung weight will be higher. Also lower profile tyres will have harder side wall so the ride quality suffer as it will be harsher compared to the stock set up.

There are many rims available in the market that fits the giant. You can choose either the Made-In-Japan rim which is more expensive than those made in Taiwan OEM rim. Just make sure that the rim has a PCD of 114.3.

Another commonly asked question is should the owner choose staggered rim set up. If you own a 2WD model, then it doesn’t really do you much good since it is a front wheel drive car so you are not getting much traction from the real wheels at all. For 4WD model, the traction switches between 2WD and 4WD so there is not much functional advantage in having larger rims and tyres at the rear.

Also beware that offset of the wheel mount is not very deep so if you are using staggered rim, the rear tyre should not be too wide. Otherwise, if it goes beyond the wheel arch, you will not be able to lower your car at all. One AOC member shod his rear rim with 275/50/R18 and it does look very cool with the tyres sticking out if view from the back of the car, but he can’t lower his car at all as the wheel arch will hit the tyres.

One interesting question that comes to me is what’s the biggest rim size that can fit into the giant? Well an owner I know of fitted a 22-inch rim with 30 series tyres. It look so cool with this set up but it also cost a ton of money to own it. He drives his giant daily and he hasn't complain about harsh ride at all.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Behind the Glory of A Sport Personality

I was reading this article on the Sun and it mentioned that “The cynic should give Malayssians a chance. Embrace the brave, the visionaries, the dreamers and the innovators. Embrace positive energy”.

This is truly a wakeup call for many Malaysia. We need to stop thinking that heroes only come from abroad. We also need to start treating our heroes just like another ordinary person that has done something extra ordinary.

I know this is not a post on Toyota Alphard but it is just a way to share my thoughts after finding more about the true behind the glory of a sport personality.

When I was fixing my car at Dynasty last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with his elder brother Joe Lee. Joe explained to me the concept of CWD and what products will be offered through CWD. They have plans to bring this brand to an international level with Dato’ Lee being the ambassador of this brand.

As our chat turn to the game of badminton, I understand better now how their family feel about Dato’ Lee involvement in this sport. While we acknowledged the fact that Dato’ Lee recently has won 4 super series badminton events in a row and then captured the All England just this month, a lot of people still don’t understand the pains that Dato’ Lee has to go through to get to this level.

During his low point in his badminton career, especially when he lost the Olympic gold medal match, a lot of people is writing him off or think that he has not put in his best effort, he prove them wrong and come up even stronger in 2010.

Despite all the glory, there is the other side of the story that probably no one will be able to see or feel other than their family members. For example, Joe was commenting that after Dato’ Lee won the All England event the family didn’t even get a chance to have dinner with Dato’ Lee until 4 days later. He was so busy attending all those celebration with the VIPs that he didn’t even has time to see the family.

The other sad part of being a sport personality is that people tend to “treat” him differently. Joe was relating how Dato’ Lee felt when the two of them were shopping at a mall, even as Dato’ Lee are checking out some clothing, the sales girl behind was commenting why Dato’ Lee has to check out the clothing before he buy. That pissed off Dato’ Lee and he left without buying anything. I wouldn’t blame him if he decides to buy his clothing while he is in oversea.

Also with his recent success, he cannot have his personal life just like any one of us. He can’t go anywhere without being recognized and crowded by curious bystanders. He can’t even go out to his favourite food stall to have a quiet meal. He has to ask his brother to pack it for him and eat alone in the hostel.

Currently the biggest challenge Dato’ Lee has is finding a sparring partner for his ongoing training. There are hardly any capable player in the BAM squad at the moment that can spar with Dato’ Lee and pushes him harder while he prepared for the next major event.

Also on the mental side, being the number one rank player in the world, he is the lone fighter out there in every tournament. Instead of having a team mate who is equally capable to spread the load of taking on players from other country, Dato’ Lee will have to do it alone. His preparation will include watching videos of all his potential opponents. This will put a lot of stress and mental fatigue on him to go through this in every tournament. No forgetting physical strain he has to go through to defeat his opponent to capture each super series title is even harder to bear.

I can now feel how much strength you need to have to be successful at this level in any sport. If you don’t have the mental and physical strength, a lot of people who can’t take the stress would have walk away.

For now, Dato’ Lee is our country hope in every tournament that he participate in. He just can’t quit and walk away when the country glory is upon his shoulder.

Coming back to the CWD brand, with such a person standing behind the CWD brand, I have confident that the Toyota MPV owners will be assure of the quality and the reputation of a true sportman.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chong Wei Dynasty - Will This Brand Benefit the Toyota Alphard Owners?

If you have been flipping through the Motor Trader magazine or other local motorsport magazine lately, you might have noticed recently there are quite a few advertisements on this new brand called Chong Wei Dynasty.

I went to Dynasty yesterday to rectify some problem and saw the above poster in the shop. While waiting for my car to be fixed, I sat down and chat with the shop keeper to find out more about this brand.

Chong Wei Dynasty is the brand child of Dato' Lee Chong Wei and Danny, the owner of Dynasty Auto Parts Sdn Bhd. Beginning of this year, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei joined force with Dynasty to offer their own brand of accessories (initially) for Toyota MPVs and it will be sold through Dynasty outlets, currently in Sunway only. However there are already plan to have few more outlets coming up by this year, notably one will be set up in Cheras while another will be launched in Penang very soon.

Chong Wei Dynasty currently offers tinting and bodykits for Toyota Alphard and Toyota Estima owners. It will also offer accessories such as front/rear camera, original head unit, home theatre system, front and rear light clusters, side mirror and etc.

In the pipeline is a customized headrest similar to those found in the 2nd generation Alphard but it will comes with a monitor to cater for both Toyota Alphard and Toyota Estima.

Dato’ Lee Chong Wei used to own a 1st generation Toyota Alphard. He was a regular customer of Dynasty for several years and recently he has upgraded to a Vellfire. He also has other cars but his passion with Alphard has given him a strong desire to be involved in the auto accessories industry hence the idea of joining force with Dynasty to launch the Chong Wei Dynasty (CWD) brand.

To cater for the needs of more Toyota MPV owner, CWD will be offering a 0% interest payment plan with selected bank for the purchase of CWD products. This will probably make it more affordable and attract a lot more potential buyers from Toyota MPV owners.

I am just another customer of Dynasty and I have no affiliation with either Dynasty Auto Parts Sdn Bhd or Chong Wei Dynasty.

I consider Dynasty as a more capable accessories shop then many other as they have the right tools and trained personnel to work on my giant. I have been with them for a year now and they have cater to my needs.

In my chat with the shop keeper I discovered that it is unfortunate but a risk of doing business dealing with Toyota parts! The unfortunate part is that Toyota Japan has such a high regards to the quality of their parts that they only offer 3 days warranty to their buyers. Buyer like Dynasty have to order the parts, imported it back to Malaysia and by the time the parts arrived, it is already more than 45 days. So for every part that Dynasty offers, they carry the risk of void warranty! It is understandable now why Dynasty pricing is slightly higher as they carry the risk of void warranty while their pricing includes warranty support.

With that in mind, it is clear that with the launching of CWD brand and some parts being sourced locally, this will reduce the overall price hence benefitting the local Toyota MPV owners.