May 18, 2024

Anuj Bhalla

Anuj Bhalla is the founder & CEO of serviceMob – leading a revolution in customer service with AI-driven analytics and redefining service experiences for some of the biggest and coolest global brands. He is an innovator in AI and CX with 3 global patents. Anuj is also a recipient of multiple accolades from Entrepreneur, Forbes, MIT, and Morgan Stanley. He is an alum of MIT and UC Berkeley.

Episode Highlights

  • 00:00-02:30 Childhood fascination with technology: Anuj discusses how his childhood interest in technology sparked his journey.
  • 02:31-05:15: Importance of using data for insights: Anuj emphasizes the significance of utilizing data for gaining valuable insights.
  • 05:16-08:00: Challenges posed by data growth: Anuj talks about the challenges that arise due to the exponential growth of data.
  • 08:01-10:20: Self-discovery through curiosity: Anuj shares how curiosity and self-discovery played a vital role in his entrepreneurial journey.
  • 10:21-13:45: Leveraging AI and machine learning in customer service: Anuj discusses how AI and machine learning can enhance customer service experiences and quality.
  • 13:46-16:30: Significance of customer-centric KPIs: Anuj underlines the importance of customer-centric Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) across industries for customer retention and success.
  • 16:31-19:00: Aligning organizations towards customer service goals: Anuj highlights the importance of aligning organizations towards customer service objectives.
  • 19:01-22:00: Learning from failures and resilience: Anuj emphasizes the value of learning from failures, resilience, and making timely decisions for business success.
  • 22:01-24:30: Parallels between chess and entrepreneurship: Anuj draws parallels between the strategies in chess and entrepreneurship.

Show Transcript

Transcript - Full Episode

[00:00:02 – 00:00:11] Nitin Bajaj

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the industry show. I’m your host, Nitin Bajaj. And joining me today is my good friend, Anuj Bhalla. Anuj welcome on the show.

[00:00:12 – 00:00:15] Anuj Bhalla

Nitin great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:15 – 00:00:20] Nitin Bajaj

Pleasure is all mine. Let’s start with the big question. Who is Anuj?

[00:00:22 – 00:03:48] Anuj Bhalla

That’s a great question. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I wanna I wanted to be a policeman when I was young, you know, firefighter. I wanted to be Spiderman or Batman, you know, at different times. Ironically, I’ve been none of those things. You know? I was, you know, an immigrant kid who who grew up, you know, a really son of an immigrant that, you’ll say that right way, but 1st generation grew up on the East Coast. You know, my parents moved here, you know, in the seventies, like, I would say one of the first waves, you know, of of kind of, the modern Desi or South Asian generation that kinda came into the United States. And, you know, I grew up in the northeast. I grew up in New Jersey, Connecticut, northeast area, you know, for for most of my life Anuj, you know, today so much has changed. Right? I I think I I look at modern California, even New Jersey, New York, and there’s so so much, more diversity now than than there’s probably ever been. But back then, it wasn’t so much. You know, I I think I grew up a very good middle class childhood and, you know, got to see a lot of technology when I was young. My dad was in IT and computer science, so I got to tinker with a lot of technology as I was young and, kind of continued on that path. You know? Like, I think a lot of, you know, folks, in in that top end of the millennial generation. Mhmm. I had a love for math. You know, I kinda discovered that a little bit later, and and science as well. Just again, not too atypical. But, you know, I I think for me, the big thing was always, you know, trying to answer the questions that that weren’t being answered. You know? That was always fascinating with me, whether it was, like, theoretical physics, you know, where where do we all come from Anuj, you know, what happened before the big bang? Those are all questions that still run through my mind. All the way to, you know, how do we use information to answer questions that, maybe people don’t know the answer to? Right? And, you you know, in the advent of my career and and even, you know, the 40 plus years that I’ve been alive, you know, we’re dealing with so much more information than we’ve ever had. I I think every year, this is a great stat, every single year, we generate more data than all the other years of human history combined. And I think there’s information there. There’s something there that we need to always mind and understand, and, it helps us understand ourselves better, but understand our world, understand the universe. And and that’s kind of where I made my career. I somehow ended up as a data scientist, and that’s, you know, maybe a little bit of who Anuj is, but still, I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t still trying to figure it out.

[00:03:50 – 00:04:52] Nitin Bajaj

And we all are. Right? And that’s the the bottom line as we our curiosity leads us to explore other things but most importantly it leads to we figuring out who we really are, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses and how do we continue to work on those as we learn more, understand more of not just our surroundings but even ourselves. So stay on that quest and make sure people around you do the same. Now coming to serviceMob, tell us a little more about what that is. What is the mission, the vision, but more importantly, why did you start this? I mean, you know, as any other typical kid, you have the right genetics, math, science could have done many different things. Why this? Entrepreneurship is not an easy path but you chose it. What drove you there? Right? I’m always very curious to learn the why behind people’s journeys.

[00:04:53 – 00:12:47] Anuj Bhalla

Yeah. You know what’s really interesting is I feel like I’ve been asking myself that question Anuj you know, these algorithms have gotten so good like on Instagram and and Facebook or YouTube. Right? And I I almost see every major entrepreneur saying something around, don’t do it. Like, don’t even start. Right? I saw Jensen Huang, you know, from NVIDIA. I saw a video, which I don’t even start. Elon Musk, this is it just goes on and on and on, and people are just like, you know, it’s staring into the abyss and eating glass Anuj, like, I mean, it’s the worst analogies you could think of. I think I was an entrepreneur for a long time. You know? I think I wanted to be. I was definitely a entrepreneur for a long time. But I I go back, like, you know, back to that kid, you know, in in 6th grade, I was selling, you know, like I said, these superheroes, Spider Anuj, Batman, all this stuff. I was selling, you know, Marvel Universe cards. Like, I saw a need in the market. Parents wouldn’t let their kids buy these collectible cards. You know? Why would you buy cards of Spider Anuj and Batman and the X Force and X Men and all these folks? Why would you buy cards, collectible trading cards that are probably worth nothing? And we all love those. We just were like, oh, holograms and these cool art Anuj, you know, I saw a need. Right? Like, my parents let me, you know, to their credit, buy stupid things like that. Yeah. They weren’t that expensive, but I had access to that, and I served a need to a lot of my fellow classmates who wanted to buy those cards, but their parents wouldn’t let them. And so, you know, look at me define the parental, you know, protections, you know, back in the the nineties and selling these cards to kids whose parents wouldn’t let them buy them, spending their lunch money, money that they probably should be using to eat, right, on these cards. And, I realized that that was a business. So back then, I I already thought, you know, hey. Look. Money. Making money. That’s kinda cool. Like, I like filling this need in the marketplace. So I’ve learned a lot, you know, from that. But I think, you know look. I did my undergrad at UC Berkeley. I studied under a lot of great professors. You know? There’s a a great one named Mark Mike Tarter, you know, who is, you know, one of the the gods in in the biostatistics realm. I studied under Vaughn Jones who was a fields metal winner. I you know, it goes on and on. So many great professors, so many, professors, so many, you know, opportunities. But I did research with professor Tarter, and, you know, we were working in the the wineries of Napa, and we were doing, like you know, he was a little bit before his time. He was like, hey. You know, we can do these advanced statistical methods, but use, like, computation computational power to really take all this, you know, amalgamation of large information and actually, you know, see things that we couldn’t see with just taking small samples. Right? And he got me on this idea that, you know, samples in some ways are are great. Right? But they’re inferior to census. Right? If you can get census, you know, why go to samples? If you can get more data, go for more. Right? And then as long as you collect it the right way, as long as you handle it the right way, you know, more data is better. You know? And that kind of embedded in me this idea that, hey. Look. You know, how can we, you know, meld this these areas of of both data science, statistics, computation into 1. And so we did early statistical machine learning, in Napa Valley trying to predict, you know, how much Cabernet they were gonna spend at the, create at the end of the season based on how how the grapes were growing. And we took measurements. We did, you know, we took national weather data. We took irrigation information. It was like an early form of a big data project, but without the cloud, without all the, you know, NVIDIA, you know, processors, GPUs. Right? And so we’re doing this on machines where it would literally take days to compute this stuff. And, it was a fascinating thing to me. And so, you know, when I did graduate Berkeley, I jumped into this world of, you know, consulting at Accenture and, you know, worked with them Fortune 500 companies really to help them understand their customer base. I was part of a customer strategy group. I worked with, you know, the AT and Ts of the world. Back then, SBC. I worked with, you know, the Dells, right, the, Bank of America’s wealth Wells Fargo’s, right, Microsoft’s. And so working with those types of companies, you know, you would see it it happened to be at this nexus where so much information was coming into the enterprise, Anuj, frankly, nobody knew what to do with it. Right? It was so much information. They were just deleting this stuff, and they’re just like, I I think it will have value in the future, but we don’t even know where to store this. We don’t know where to put it. And that’s where my you know, the need came in. Right? Filling the need. This time, it wasn’t, you know, comic cards and and Marvel Universe, you know, cards to 6th graders. This time it’s like, how can we take all this telemetry data and figure out how we can offer better service to our customers? What is it that they want to buy? Like, what are what can we see about them that they don’t even know about themselves? So this is where that whole world started, and I I was lucky to kinda enter in consulting at this point where data was just flooding the enterprise. But over time, I gained more expertise in this area of service. You know, customer strategy is marketing sales service, customer acquisition retention, loyalty. These are the themes that we cared about in that world. And at the end of the day, you know, one thing that I saw was customer service in particular was where you learn the most out of out of who your customer is and how they use your product. Right? There’s a lot of marketing data, a lot of click funnels Anuj conversions and those kinds of things. All great stuff. A lot of science behind that. Right? And that was interesting, and I did my fair share of that in the day. But, you know, customer service was really about where you learned about your customer. Where what how are they using your product? Where are they tripping up? Anuj, ironically, it was the most underutilized. And so that started to be an interesting problem that I was looking at. And and fast forward to a point where I was running service analytics for Accenture, we were helping companies make the most out of that customer service data. It was just on a one to one level. It was helping the largest companies in the world, you know, really utilize that data in new ways. And, you know, while it was great work, it didn’t feel scalable at the time. Right? It really felt like we gotta do this brick by brick. And, you know, I started thinking, is there a way we could do this more efficiently faster than than how we do this today?

[00:12:49 – 00:12:55] Nitin Bajaj

Super cool journey going from exploiting kids to now servicing big enterprises.

[00:12:56 – 00:12:59] Anuj Bhalla

Give us a chance. Kid at the time, so that’s okay. So it’s not

[00:13:00 – 00:13:23] Nitin Bajaj

Yeah. It’s okay. We Anuj justify that. Sure. Yeah. Tell us about the size and scale and, you know, as I like to call it, the impact the team at serviceMob has been able to create. And I know it’s early days.

We’re just getting started. But just give us a sense for where things are and, where things are headed here in the next few months.

[00:13:24 – 00:18:58] Anuj Bhalla

Yeah. Absolutely. So, you know, ending off kind of on that last thing where we’re starting to really look at this service problem Anuj how we scale it, That’s what serviceMob is at the end of the day. We are, you know, AI and machine learning for companies to really help them make the most out of the opportunities they can find out of that data. And in customer service, the impact of that is, you know, 1, on the customer side, can we now measure experiences in new ways? Can we put definition around this term of customer experience that’s frankly been fairly squishy in the last 15 to 20 years. Right? And I mean that with all due respect. There’s a lot of us know what customer experience means. But if I was really depressed you to say, how do you define a customer experience? That’s where it gets again a little bit squishy, a little bit abstract. And a lot of what we’re doing at serviceMob is pouring concrete on this abstract concept so that we can measure the customer experience. We can add dimension to it so we can make it measurable, observable, and and truly actionable. You know, there’s that old Peter Drucker quote, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Mhmm. If we don’t know what the customer experience really looks like in our data, how are we going to improve it? And then the second question I’d ask you is, is there an executive today that’s would say that they don’t want to improve the customer experience? So everyone wants to improve it, but we can’t really improve it if we can’t measure it. But then again, no one could really define it. So this is your perfect storm of a problem. So at serviceMob, you know, what we believe is for us to solve this problem of customer service. And let’s face it. The state of customer service despite all the investment in the last, you know, 50 years and especially in the last 15 where venture capital has poured, probably 1,000,000,000 of dollars into this space, it’s still dismal. Right? It’s not that great. I don’t think it you know, I think, there was a major firm consulting firm that did a survey to say, is customer service better or worse 5 you know, versus today, 5 years ago, 10 years ago? And it was almost like, you know, a backwards, incremental increasing line. Right? The further you went back, the better you thought customer service was in time. So it it’s interesting. There’s a disconnect between what the customer expects and and their experience. They think it you know, despite all the investment, they think it’s worse today than it’s ever been. Right? We had at the same time, we’re spending more money than we’ve ever had in this space. The question is, what are we trying to optimize for? And so the grand vision is, like, I think for the most part, a lot of the metrics and measures we’ve had for customer service have really focused on efficiency, and that, unfortunately, is what all of these tools, all these investments have optimized for And efficiency is great, but efficiency shouldn’t come at the expense of the customer experience. I think that’s the Bhallance. Right? Why don’t we even have customer service anyway? You know, if you’re if I sell you on something, why should I even service it? That cost me money as a company. We do it because we want to 1, there’s a brand promise, and that’s important. But 2, I think it’s also, you know, the economic relationship you wanna have with that customer, to keep them as a customer. The next time they need a product in your space. Are they thinking of your brand or somebody else? That is why we service is because if they have that great experience with your product or service, they’re gonna come back to you. They’re gonna keep that economic relationship with you. They’re gonna say stay subscribed, right, and not take their business elsewhere. So, you know, we wanna help enable companies live up to that service promise in the ultimate way, which really means retaining and keeping their customers, keeping that economic relationship with them. And and and then even going further and saying, hey. Look. Can we can we delight them? And can we do it at a price point that that’s truly optimal for the company in terms of their cost to serve, that’s optimal for the worker that generally has to provide service whether that’s human or bot. Right? You know, where are the situations where we may need different agents serving that customer for their need? And then I think, finally, the most important thing is are we able to retain that customer. Right? So, you know, that’s the ultimate vote. Are they voting with their wallet to stick with you or go somewhere else? So if we are able to help fix customer service, and I think that’s a big problem. You know? It may seem like a very niche thing, but part of why we chose this industry and part of why we chose this problem was because we all are customers of something. We all need service from a government agency, you know, whether you’re getting your passport renewed, whether you’re you know, need to change an airline flight, whether, you you know, your cell phone isn’t working and you need to call your carrier. There’s so many different reasons why we need service from the brands we interact with, and I I I just don’t think that’s going away very easily. What we need to be able to do is help companies provide the best possible service at the most optimal price point. And I think we can show that Bhallance with what we’re doing at serviceNow.

[00:18:59 – 00:19:08] Nitin Bajaj

And funny enough, every single one of those examples that you mentioned flashed a nightmare nightmare nightmare. So

[00:19:08 – 00:20:11] Anuj Bhalla

Yeah. Anuj it shouldn’t have to be. And I you know, I think our thesis is if we’re measuring customer service with the right KPIs Right? And I think in the era of AI, this is what’s great about AI is that, you know, I think everyone goes to chat bots and copilots and those kinds of things. We’re using AI to help us measure things better. Right? So if you’re using AI with that use case and we’re measuring things now better and in the right way, that’s truly in a way that’s customer centric, now you’re gonna have your entire organization rowing in the same direction. Now you know, and when when a 1,000, you know, frontline workers are rowing in the same direction along with their supervisors, managers, directors, all the way to that VP of customer support, when they’re all moving in the same direction, you’re gonna get to your destination faster. If 500 are moving one way and 500 are moving another, you’re, you know, what what we call in the industry, your treadmilling. Right? You’re making moves and going nowhere.


[00:20:11 – 00:20:11] Nitin Bajaj


[00:20:11 – 00:20:38] Anuj Bhalla

And that’s that is unfortunately, treadmilling is what we’ve seen the unfortunate state of customer service in for the last even, like, 20, 30 years. Right? I think there’s definitely been real innovations, but how they’ve been applied has not got won us favor with customers at the end of the day who now think who should think that customer service is better despite all these investments, but unfortunately still don’t.

[00:20:40 – 00:20:52] Nitin Bajaj

Let’s talk about, you know, going from the challenge for an industry to the challenge for you and for serviceMob. What’s the one big one that you would like to call out?

[00:20:53 – 00:24:21] Anuj Bhalla

I think the biggest thing for us is, you know, there’s new first law. Right? You know? So, you know, an object in motion is gonna stay in that motion unless you have that external force acting upon it. The motion that we’re fighting against, the inertia that we’re fighting against is 50 years of the same metrics. Right? The same way of measuring contact centers. And people and companies who are Nitin to this, that’s what they’re gonna learn. They’re gonna pick up a textbook. They’re gonna pick up a call centers for dummies, and it’s gonna have the same playbook. Right? Anuj, again, it’s over indexed on efficiency. It’s under indexed on effectiveness. It’s over indexed on the operational point of view. It’s under indexed on the customer point of view. Right? And they’re you know? So for a lot of what we’re talking about, we have to be the naysayer to some level. Yes. And we have to challenge the status quo for 50 years of a science that’s been created by industry for this, you know, for the customer service horizontal, say. So, you know, that’s something that’s incredibly hard is that we have to, you know, tell people who were in the industry for 10, 20, even 30 plus years that, hey. You know, all that stuff that we’re doing, all that stuff that we’re measuring, it it’s still important. There there’s still a need for it, but it’s it’s an and not an or. Right? What it’s doing is it helps us give that operational point of view. We’re missing something very fundamental in customer service, and that’s the customer point of view. Right? And if we’re able to now put KPIs that really reflect the customer point of view, we’re gonna have better results. And if we can drive accountability to those KPIs that have the customer point of view, you’re gonna now have better customer experiences. Right? That’s gonna be the most important thing. And and to now convince people that, hey. Look. The way we’ve been looking at this is is somewhat incomplete over the last 50 years. I’m gonna say it’s wrong. It’s just incomplete. Right? Exactly. You know? And with that, you’re gonna have to be that external force that now fights this moving object to that’s going in the way it wants to go. So that’s our biggest challenge is we have to educate, convince, persuade. We have to prove ourselves, you know, in which we’re we’re always happy to do, by the way. And then, you know, we could show people, hey. Look. You know, if you modify the way that you’re looking at this world and looking at your data, you’re gonna see things now that are gonna change the way you operate. Right? They’re gonna affect the way the behaviors, the decisions you make, you know, every day. And businesses move as fast as as people Anuj make decisions. Anuj what we wanna do is offer that clarity, so now you see the full picture. Right? The the impact of the operation, but also the impact to the customer. And if you put that together, we believe you make better decisions, you make them faster, your organization is stronger as a result. And, you know, at the end of the day, you you get a better customer experience for your end customer, which is, like I said, something that no executive out there would say they wouldn’t want. Right? I think everybody wants that.

[00:24:22 – 00:25:17] Nitin Bajaj

True. And I have to say this. It is a big challenge, but if anyone were to take that on, I can’t think of anybody better than you. The passion you have to make this happen and do the right thing and to educate people to move on and be that catalyst, that energy that you bring to this is fascinating. So thank you for being that advocate. Thank you for bringing your passion to changing an entire industry. I think it’s it’s more than about time that we made that transition. So kudos to you and the team for bringing this into perspective, for starting to make the changes, and you have quite a few brands that depend on you now that they have tasted success. So kudos all along to you and the team for all of the success you have, bagged so far Anuj this is still very early days.

[00:25:18 – 00:27:56] Anuj Bhalla

It’s early days. Yeah. And, you know, and like I said, you know, Nitin, I was at a funeral for a friend not too long ago. You know, he was in his late seventies. Had you know, I didn’t even know what kind of career this guy had. You know, it was it was quite amazing, but, you know, pretty much a legend in the marketing industry. I was able to hear not only, you know, obviously, his personal life, you know, a lot about him being a father and a dad and a brother, etcetera, but also, you know, what he had done in his professional life and what he had accomplished and the people he affected in that way as well. And my hope is that, you know, you asked me about the goals at the end of this. I hope we are the people that fix customer service. I think a lot of folks out there feel that service is broken, that in 2024, it should be way better than it is. We we can do so much with AI. Look at GPT. Look at, you know, general intelligence. We’re making real strides sending rockets into space every week, it seems like. Right? There’s so much that we can do, but service has been one of these things that have been very elusive in fixing. And so at the   end of my life, if they’re saying, hey, serviceMob, you know, a nooch, they had a hand in fixing this problem around customer service. I think that touches a lot of people’s lives. I, you know, I wouldn’t mind that being, you know, a life well lived if I I could help fix that. And there’s no guarantee that you will, but we’re gonna do everything we can to try to fix this problem because it is a real problem. It is a pain point, as you mentioned, for, you know, everyone in some way. And it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, doesn’t matter, you know, where you come from. Again, we’re all customers of of someone somewhere. And as a result, we need service from time to time. Anuj, really, what that means is, you know, can we make this better? In a service economy that, you know, we’re now dominated across the world? We’re much more of a service economy than a manufacturing economy. We have to figure this out. Right? This is something that I think we owe to each other as, you know, companies, as consumers, as as the way we interact. If we solve that problem, I think we’re doing the right thing. And that’s why we chose this problem to really get into. Right? We really do believe this affects a wide number of of folks across the world.

[00:27:57 – 00:28:45] Nitin Bajaj

It does. And again, I’m extremely excited that you and your shoulders are bearing this weight. It’s not a weight. It’s an opportunity. You did answer that question for me, but I’m glad that you’re driving this. Now as we look forward into what the possibilities are and how we are going to change this, I want to take a step back and look at the rearview mirror and ask you to share 2 instances in your career, in your life. One where things did not work out as you had expected Anuj there was failure and lessons. And another one where things blew your own expectations and became a success beyond your imagination.

[00:28:47 – 00:34:05] Anuj Bhalla

Oh, absolutely. I mean, where do I start with failures? By the way, you only learn from your failures. Right? We always wanna talk about successes, but failure is intercalated in in everything we do. I remember when we were just trying to, you know, get some of these early models to work, and, you know, we’re working with some of the largest clients in the world Anuj, you know, just dependent on, hey. Look. What are some of the insights that we can have? What are things we can action on tomorrow? We were working day and night, and this is for my consulting days, you know, with a major, telecom company that rhymes with AT and T. But but, you know, we’re we’re working with, you know, this SVP that’s just hammering on us, and we’re working day Anuj night trying to see, hey. Where are the insights? Where can we find things? And, you know, we’re trying again and again, and we just, like, couldn’t quite figure out where the value was. Right? It it was the data was murky, everything. And what you realize is that, you know, every day, we’re getting smarter and smarter and smarter. And where you were, you know, when you had, despair on Monday, by Friday, we’re we’re looking at this problem and hammering at this problem so long that eventually we were able to almost see something that was just amazing. Right? I remember, you know, we were looking at subscriptions, and we’re trying to understand churn. Right? We’re understanding, you know, this is for AT and T Wireless. We were trying to understand churn for why, you know, subscribers stay or leave, and this is back when you still didn’t have these, you know, everything plans, right, that you have today. This is when they still have minutes and overages and that kind of thing. And I remember we found this amazing insight around the not the amount of overages, but the inconsistency of the bills. Right? When when consumers had inconsistency around their bills, like what they paid every month to, you know, their provider, Anuj a lot of that was because of the overages that would happen. That was the more volatile it was, we were able to, you know, see this relationship with Tern, and it was amazing. We were like, wow. You know? And we started looking at the correlations between, you know, the standard deviations and the volatility and and churn rates, and we’re starting to see, like, this amazing trend. Right? And, you know, this was this was, like, literally, it probably felt like weeks, but it like I said, it was despair on Monday. And by Friday, we’re like, wow. We have something before this meeting. And, you know, as, you know, 10 minutes, 15 minutes before the meeting, we’re still trying to create slides and put it out there. And, you know, we got this in front of, you know, one of the, SVPs, EVPs out out of that client. And we were you know, they were just like, wow. You know, how did you find this? You know? And it it just takes work. You’re chipping away at these things. And and a lot of times, you won’t see the light until you get to, you know, until you chip all the way through. Right? And you you get all the way through the tunnel, and now you see the other side. That’s when, you know, a lot of the moments are there. So, you know, just going through that, having the grit, you know, being able to grind, being able to stay focused on the problem, having resilience, persistence, all of those things matter. Right? That’s the way we hire, you know, at serviceMob. That’s the way, you know, I those those are the traits that I look for in people who wanna follow this impossible mission that we have. Right? I mean, if you looked at it on the outside, it’s crazy. But why we believe that we can do this is that we believe every single day we’re chipping away Anuj that, you know, at some point, you’re gonna have that moment. And sometimes your client is gonna have that moment where now they see, you know, from one side of the tunnel to the other. They see that light, and now they’re willing to, you know, walk through that cavern to get to the other side. That’s the amazing part of this. Right? And that’s where you see minds change. That’s where you see, old habits die and new thinking, being persuaded. Right? Those are those those critical points that matter that absolutely, make a difference. You know? And so that’s one that comes to mind. You know, when I’m thinking about I was like, you know, it kinda caught me on the spot, but that that’s just one that’s so prominent in my memory because I thought we were doomed. Right? But just chipping away at the problem, having a team focus on it, and it’s all about people. Right? You gotta have people who are motivated to kinda go on that journey with you. And, if you keep going, you’re gonna you’re gonna make a difference, and that’s what I would say to any entrepreneur out there. It feels like, you know, you’re just chipping away at nothing, but, eventually, you’re gonna get to that other side Anuj you’re gonna see something, and that’s gonna, you know, be all worth it at the end of the day.

[00:34:05 – 00:34:25] Nitin Bajaj

So true. I wanna switch gears now and ask you about what do you do for fun? I mean, you absolutely enjoy this. You’re truly passionate about customer service and making a dent. But what do you do to de stress? Just, you know, reset Anuj, and come back with all your energy back into this.

[00:34:25 – 00:35:59] Anuj Bhalla

You know, it’s interesting because, you know, in my life, I’ve now centered a lot of what I do around this idea of entrepreneurship. You know? I’m still very close. So I did grad school at MIT and, you know, I’m very close to a lot of what’s, you know, happening there, especially that being one of the premier institutions in terms of advancing, you know, things in AI and data science and and a lot of the areas that we’re in. Right? So, you know, I like to stay on top of technology. That is fun for me. I like to stay on top of current events. I love, I still love playing badminton. I say this, and I haven’t played that much in the last couple of years, but, you know, sports and that kind of thing. I know I have 2 daughters, 9&7, who are playing basketball, and I enjoy them thinking that I’m pretty good because I’m not. But at least I’m able to show them, you know, a few moves as they’re learning the game. But, you know, spending time with family, I think, you know, being excited around, new technology that’s out there, being, you know, I I I play a few games of chess every day. Mhmm. I I recommend this, just to keep my mind sharp. In a lot of ways, I see parallels in chess with and running a business, you know, especially speed chess.

[00:35:59 – 00:36:00] Nitin Bajaj


[00:36:00 – 00:37:47] Anuj Bhalla

You know, what you realize is that you do have an opponent on the other side. That could be competition. It could be market forces. It could be a lot of things. But you also have this element of time that’s also your enemy. So if your flag drops because you you use too much time to think about what move you’re gonna make, you can lose that way as well. Right? And I think that’s the interesting thing about startups is that you you have to make moves in a timely manner. But, you know, if you make the wrong move, you might get decimated by your opponent. But if you make the right moves and you make them, you know, in in a timely way, you Anuj stay in the game. Right? And that’s that’s a little bit of what I see is sometimes when I see entrepreneurs get crushed, it’s because they don’t know what direction to go in. It slows down their decision making. And at the end of the day, they end up not making a move and and pretty much letting their flag expire. Right? That’s what we don’t want to happen. You know? So, sometimes you have to make the move, and it’s not the best move, but it’s the best educated move you have at the time. It may be the wrong one, but at least it keeps you in the game to to fight for another move in the future. Right? So that’s the way that, you know, I think about it. And, you know, you’re never gonna be perfect. You’re gonna lose a few games. That’s okay. But, as long as you’re learning, you know, you become better at it Anuj you become more comfortable to make those decisions faster as they’re needed, which which is critically important for for anyone running an early stage company. So Quickly a later stage company too, but at least early stage, you know, I can talk about a little more authoritatively.

[00:37:51 – 00:37:51] Nitin Bajaj


[00:37:52 – 00:38:02] Nitin Bajaj

Well, thanks Anuj for sharing what you do for fun. And soon enough, I will challenge you for a game of badminton because that’s my sport of choice.

[00:38:03 – 00:38:04] Anuj Bhalla

So Awesome.

[00:38:05 – 00:38:20] Nitin Bajaj

We should put that put that down on the calendar and make sure that doesn’t take another year to get scheduled.

[00:38:21 – 00:38:31] Anuj Bhalla

I hope so. Yeah. You know, with the weather being nice. I don’t know with all the wind lately, you know, we could play outdoors, but, I know some good indoor courts. You know? Yeah. So

[00:38:31 – 00:38:43] Nitin Bajaj

Alright. It’s a date. Now onto my favorite part of the show, which we call the one line life lessons. I would love for you to share a few of your life lessons with us.

[00:38:45 – 00:39:52] Anuj Bhalla

Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, you know, the first one I I always say to my team, you know, real champion sweat. Right? And this goes back to that story I told you about persistence. It’s about resilience. Real champions are made because they practice their craft. They’re in the game. They’re not made on the sidelines. You know, it it’s always great to admire, you know, other folks. But if you wanna be great at something, you have to, you know, put in the time. You have to put in the hours. You have to, you know, metaphorically sweat. You know? Sometimes not metaphorically, quite literally, sweat to make your goals happen, and no one is gonna do that for you. There’s no easy button or easy way around it. You just have to jump in with both feet Anuj, you you have to fight for what you you know, the vision that you believe in. Right? And, so I I believe that one is is incredibly important and and critical. So So I always tell that to my team, real champion, Svet, if you wanna be the best at something, if you wanna be great at something, you have to get in the arena Anuj you have to, do what you can to to really master your craft, master that domain, that that you really want to drive change in or see a vision, in in changing that that future, based on based on that, belief that you have or that conviction that you have deep inside. Another one that I would tell people is, especially in this in in the business of of entrepreneurship, but I think it it it, applies in in in all areas of of at least professionalism is don’t drink your own Kool Aid. This is something I’ve always said. In a lot of ways, you know, for whatever product you’re creating, whatever deliverable you’re looking at, you have to be your own harshest critic. You know? And it doesn’t mean that you should be obsessed with nonperfection. Sometimes, you know, like I said, speed chess. You know? Sometimes time is the enemy of of a a decent move. Right? It may not be the best move, but you have to be able to, you know, be a critic of of even your own products. That’s, important Anuj anticipating that gives you the best practice on how to deal with objections or overcome obstacles when other people or other organizations or other points of view kinda come in and and need to be addressed. So, you know, to the extent that you’re well versed in your area, to the extent that, you understand your own product, your own deliverable, your own creations from that 360 point of view, you’re gonna have the best vantage point to solve those problems. You’re gonna have the best vantage point to overcome those objections Anuj whatever you need, and and that’s important to, you know, drive alignment, drive decision making. 3rd thing I would say is need to haves over nice to haves. Right? Being able I think there’s so many cool things that you can do with technology that are not real problems for people. Right? And that’s the thing that I would say is, hey. Look. Are you solving a real need? Is there value in what you’re doing? Certainly, there’s gonna be people out there who make money on the nice to haves, and that’s that’s great. But needs, are are incredibly important. That’s what, you know, that’s the gap we need to fill, you know, whether it’s, you you know, selling comic cards in 6th grade to kids whose parents wouldn’t let them buy them or, trying to put a new point of view in customer service or or anything else. Right? Those needs have to be followed. So understanding your market, understanding where those needs are, and and really addressing that in whatever product or service you’re offering, I think is incredibly important. One other thing that I like to say, and this is, you know, I say to, you know, the folks who who do the selling, you know, here at serviceMob. This is back when I was at Accenture. But, RRR over MRR. Right? And what that means maybe for the audience who doesn’t know is, I always say relationship recurring revenue is greater than monthly recurring revenue or annual recurring revenue. We tend to think of things very product centric. Right? Hey. Look. I sold this product. I sold the year subscription. It’s this kind of recurring revenue. Relationship recurring revenue puts another dimension on how you sell. And, you know, I don’t know if you saw this, Nitin. You know, my old employer, Accenture, you know, released statistics on AI and how much they sold in in Gen AI. And one of the big stories that came out in the last few weeks was they had sold more in Gen AI than every other startup combined

[00:40:52 – 00:40:52] Nitin Bajaj


[00:40:52 – 00:41:07] Anuj Bhalla

In the in the last, like, 2 quarters. Right? So the revenues that they garnered were more than everyone else. And that’s because they have a a very relationship centric point of view of when they sell. So, you know, people you know, their directors one day at one company, their vice presidents at another. Think of that as, you know, in a way that relationship. And think about, you know, how you’re addressing the needs and the problems that they have. If you’re able to solve those problems, that’s worth something to them and their organizations. And that’s what drives this this idea of relationship recurring revenue. It’s not so much monetizing relationships, but it’s really sticking with people who know the value that you can bring and then using, that relationship to really help spread the words, help spread that new message, help spout spread that persuasion, that new point of view you’re trying to bring to market. But those are the believers that are gonna come to you again and again, and that’s really, through this relationship recurring revenue lens versus just I sold the product Anuj this is how much money I’m making. Right? And then, you know, the last thing I would say, and this is this I pick on Gen z a lot. Okay? So as being a millennial, I pick on Gen z a lot. And I think it’s partly, because some of the messages is have gotten in in some ways misconstrued, and and there’s this message about failure out there. Mhmm. Right? Then then, you know, we talked about it here, you know, about failures and that kind of thing. And everyone would tell you how your failures I you know, if I succeeded, I probably failed a 1,000 times, that kind of thing. And failures are the stepping stone to success. What I have to you make sure that people know who work with me and work out there is that failure is an outcome of the success mindset, not the other way around. Okay? So, you know, I I I see a lot of people, oh, failure. Yeah. It’s great. Let’s let’s fail a few times and let’s, you know, and then, you know, eventually successful show up. Like, that’s not how it works. So it’s very important that we we we put that in the right context. Failure is an outcome of the success mindset, not the other way around. Right? You want people coming into the game, visualizing the win, visualizing the victory because, you know, there’s going to be a lot of times you don’t achieve that Anuj that’s okay. But then, you know, in that learning, in that resilience, in that ability to synthesize, in that ability to understand the problem, you are increasing the odds that you are gonna win and solve that problem and be on top. And so, you know, that success mindset is what’s needed to continue on. Having a failure mindset first because we’ve been told failure is great. It it kind of misconstrues the tautology. Right? We need to, you know, make sure that we have the right mindset going into these problems so that we can solve the biggest problems at the end of the day.

[00:41:07 – 00:41:30] Nitin Bajaj

I 100% agree with you. And, you know, to visualize it in a slightly different way because I’m I’m a very visual person is your end goal, your North Star, your vision, your mission should be driven by that success that you paint for yourself. And and do it in pencil because that may change as we pivot as we learn.

[00:41:30 – 00:41:31] Anuj Bhalla

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

[00:41:31 – 00:42:07] Nitin Bajaj

Yeah. But in going to that failure is part of the process. You will fail as you approach your goal, but it’s not that if you just continue to do some things and you fail, success is not going to be a result of that. Right? So that’s that’s essentially what you just said. I visualize it in a different way in saying I mean, I’m visualizing it in saying that you know keep success and keep working hard towards getting there and you will fail in the process. That doesn’t mean you stop. That just means you keep getting up and you keep going to where you need to go. Instead of saying, well, yeah. So what if I failed 5 times? I’m going to succeed anyways. But you gotta put in the hard work. You gotta learn from your mistakes. You gotta sweat as you said, Anuj, make sure you have the right people that you surround yourself with. They’ll give you the input. They’ll give you the motivation and the knowledge that you need to succeed. FSo success is not an outcome of just multiple failures. But exactly like you said, it’s a part of the process. So and I just thank you so much for sharing your journey, your story, and your life lessons. Really appreciate it. Again, kudos for all the successes that you and the team have had so far Anuj many, many best wishes for your continued success. Really appreciate you coming here and sharing this with us.

[00:42:08 – 00:42:19] Anuj Bhalla

Thank you so much, Nitin. It was great to be here, and, we need to do this again one day. So hopefully, yeah. You know, I don’t know if you have repeat guests, but, maybe I could be the first. You know? Probably not. Right?

[00:42:19 – 00:42:42] Nitin Bajaj

We’ve had a few repeat guests, but only only the very special one. Then as you Nitin, my background is a little different, so I changed my office so I could look more intelligent in front of you. Right? Data science, MIT, Accenture. So I had to level up my game. And, you know, when I sat here, it almost looked like a virtual background, but it’s not. Yeah. You know? Just

[00:42:42 – 00:43:04] Anuj Bhalla

Oh, wow. Yeah. I was gonna say AI is getting really good. Yeah. We know this guy. Yeah. So Wonderful. So yeah, Nitin. Thank you again. I mean, this was really fun Anuj, you know, I look forward to, you know, hopefully, one day doing this again. But if not, I’ll see you on the badminton court, and, we’ll we’ll take it up over there. Okay?

[00:43:04 – 00:43:05] Nitin Bajaj

We’re gonna do both. How about that?

[00:43:06 – 00:43:06] Anuj Bhalla

Alright. Or

[00:43:06 – 00:43:09] Nitin Bajaj

maybe the next one we record on the badminton court.

[00:43:09 – 00:43:24] Anuj Bhalla

Oh, that’s no no recordings there. I don’t wanna you know, I am my harshest critic, but seeing this on camera may not be be playing badminton. You know? It’s, I’m not where I I used to be, you know, 10, 20 years ago. So

[00:43:25 – 00:43:34] Nitin Bajaj

Hey. Don’t don’t back off now. We we have that. That’s a date. It’s already confirmed. Whether cameras are a part of it or not, we’ll we’ll figure that part out.

[00:43:34 – 00:43:38] Anuj Bhalla

Alright. Very good. Well, thanks again, Nitin. Appreciate it.

[00:43:38 – 00:45:41] Nitin Bajaj

Thanks, Anuj. Take care. Bye bye.


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