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Mrinal Kanti Rai

The Purist

Why, I think, religion needs a better Service Design and good Customer Experience?

India is a country of contradictions. It’s a metaphor for Jugaad1 and Chalta hai2. For outsiders as well as for insiders, it’s a country with a split personality disorder. Chalta hai has its own linguistic that requires separate space, but let me focus on Jugaad this time. One can debate over the systemic complacency inherent in Jugaad, but one cannot ignore it’s utility as a thought process.

Let me share a story that is a result of thought process behind Jugaad.

As a country, we are obsessed with religious festivals. I am agnostic, but that doesn't stop me to visit a temple on Shivratri3. Being from Varanasi nostalgia grips, makes me like chaos. Last Shivratri I was in Bangalore and visited Shiva temple in my neighborhood. The scene was a cliché, long queue with short attention span and shorter patience limit. One of the key rituals on this day is bathing of Linga4 with water, milk and honey, Wood apple leaves added to it, symbolizing purification of the soul.

Since the inflation was high, still is, devotees opted for the self-allocated festival discount. They opted for bathing the Linga with just milk. Logic is Shiva is benevolent, and he would not mind.

The temple was small; a reminder that physical space in India is an issue, and mental space is a concern. The lack of space made it difficult for the UX designer (the temple priest) to provide the better experience. I felt that it was a bad service design and a poor customer experience.  To provide world-class customer experience is a challenge.

While pondering on these ideas and waiting for my turn I suddenly noticed something that made me smile. Not sure who came up with the idea but let’s give credit to UX strategist (The head priest). A new Linga was kept on (let’s call it a copy) a table outside the main abode in a square aluminum container with an outlet at one corner. Another square aluminum container was kept on the floor such that the milk, which flows through the outlet, collects in the container. The outlet was created to avoid overflow of milk. A priest was sitting in front of the table, handing a conch to the devotees and pouring a 50 ml of milk through a conch on the Shiva Linga.

The persuasion designer in me wanted to ask how is the experience of your devotees (or customers). The rush of impatience among devotees and the glint in the eye of the head priest never let me express my feelings, but realization dawned upon me. Jugaad works and at times Jugaad is enough but not always.

I left with a hope, and a smile that it's a spiritual calling for UX experts to improve a service design for devotees. Consumers demand a good experience; god men prefer a better experience for their customers, and god seems to like it J

  1. Jugaad: A word in Hindi language, applied to a creative or innovative idea providing a quick, alternative way of solving or fixing a problem
  2. Chalta Hai: Attitude to accept mediocrity and willingness to overlook minor aberrations
  3. Shivratri or Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva, wiki.
  4. Linga or lingum is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples, wiki

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