Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Few Chronicles of Dumb Customer Service

'Expressing myself' in a mail to airtel management after taking years of dumb service. Read on.

I have seen some good examples of exceptionally poor service, but the recent ones from your company might really take the cake. I have been an Airtel customer for almost four years now, but that is only because my switching costs are high. As a captive customer at the mercy of a telecom behemoth, let me list some of the moments of truth or my top three nuggets (not necessarily in the order of irritation).
· My web access to my Airtel account was disabled for no particular reason. When I called your call centre on the morning of ‘26/09/2006’, they were equally clueless and the Rep I spoke to, promised to reset my password and SMS me a new one within minutes. When I asked him for a tracking number for my complaint, he refused saying ‘your problem will be solved immediately’. Exactly as I feared, nothing happened for over an hour, so I called your famed 121 and narrated my sob story all over again. This time the promise was grander- ‘You would receive an SMS as soon as you put the phone down.’ As you would have guessed, I am still waiting for the SMS- which is apparently still on its way (may be sent through a courier!)
· I needed statements of my incoming calls for a very legitimate reason (as Seshu Gudipati would agree); he had unwittingly referred me to a certain Colonel Bhatachari. After a couple of minutes of conversation with him, my feelings weren’t very different from that of a court -martialled soldier. He wanted a letter from the commissioner of police elucidating why I should be given a list of my incoming calls! Man, I was flattered that this list is being accorded the status of a classified doc; you know national security and all that. In addition to this rather simple requirement, he lectured me on the sanctity of processes and procedures and I came away suitably chastised.
· Change of rate plan, believe it or not, took nearly a month- that too after some serious follow-up from my end. After a few illuminating and frank discussions (with a few who wish to remain unnamed), I concluded that the odds of getting anything done in your back-office are the same as that of a Russian roulette. So after doing the math in my head, I realized that I was one of the few lucky survivors.

I suppose that, in order of importance, brand equity and distribution & customer acquisition capabilities score over customer service, but too much of disparity between the two could have its own repercussions especially in an industry which has one of the highest customer churns. Research shows that only 1 out of 5 aggrieved customers actually take the trouble to complain, so you should effectively scale up your complaints by a factor of five. Fortunately, for your company, the customer market is a lot less efficient than the equity market, so it might take a while for the correction to happen, but the signals are loud and clear.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Girish said...

good one! - but u r posting after a long time, dude..

BTW - Idea is worse than Airtel and i am stuck up - i have given up on them and am only waiting for number portability to come to India before i switch!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Ravi Ivaturi said...

thanks Giks for some motivation. BTW did U like my previous post.

10:20 AM  
Blogger shravan said...

haha
good one!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Srini said...

When I have time, I wanna narrate a story with Airtel that cost me INR 30K for being a "premium" "golden" customer ...shucks...Airtel stinks.

4:21 AM  

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