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Zahida Ternikar: The democratic mentor

Zahida Ternikar of Kaya involves the entire team in the decision-making process and encourages a teaching and learning environment

Naini Thaker
Published: Oct 15, 2020 05:47:56 PM IST
Updated: Oct 15, 2020 05:55:10 PM IST

Zahida Ternikar: The democratic mentor

A typical workday for Zahida Ternikar remains the same despite the coronavirus outbreak. The only difference is that the head of customer service at Kaya Limited now has to ensure safety precautions for customers at clinics and work from home, like the rest of her team.

Since the pandemic, Ternikar has been heading  the Kaya Safe project, which focuses on customer safety. “The entire customer service has been enhanced with 60+ processes implemented… from shifting from hand towels and service bed towels—all linen—to disposables. We started using personal protective equipment and UVC lamps for additional sanitisation and sterilisation,” she explains. “The project ensured the smooth opening of over 70 clinics across the country and getting the supply chain in place.”

Along with the head doctor at Kaya, Ternikar trained approximately 850 frontline employees on the new standard operating procedures. “For the first time, we trained our housekeeping vendor in Hindi since housekeeping plays a vital role in maintaining hygiene and safety standards in the clinic,” she says.

Covid-19 has been a challenging time, but the transition to work from home was smooth for Ternikar’s team. “We do a call at 3 pm daily. We keep this time exclusively for the team… if there is a customer query or a request, we check how they are addressing it and if they need help. It’s a learning opportunity for everyone,” says Ternikar. “Also, in case someone is mentally distressed due to Covid-19, I ask someone else to take on that load.” Apart from customer queries and complaints, the 48-year-old also coordinates with clinics across the country to ensure there are no issues in their day-to-day operations.

Ternikar has over 24 years of experience in customer and quality services across sectors such as banking and hospitality She joined Kaya in April 2019, and from a one-member team has expanded it to a six-member one. “In the past year, our Net Promoter Score—which measures customer experience—has improved from 31 to 66,” she claims.Zahida Ternikar: The democratic mentor

To motivate her team, she encourages a teaching and learning environment Says senior customer service associate Archana Rane, “Her management style is democratic… she involves the entire team in the decision-making process and seeks our opinion. She is approachable and ready to lend help, whether it’s professional or personal.”

She also ensures a degree of openness. “Zahida has always been a mentor first, then a manager. She has a distinctive coach-style leadership that has helped her build a highly engaged and confident team,” says Bhairavie Puri, COO, Kaya Limited.

Puri says before Ternikar joined the customer service team, they had seen high levels of attrition. “When she joined, a large percentage of the team was fairly new and existing members were seeking a supportive leader,” she says. In the last one year, only one person has quit as she was relocating abroad.

The most satisfying part of her job, says Ternikar, is coaching her team. “You should be honest with your team and they will be honest with you,” she believes.

(This story appears in the 09 October, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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