If everyone treated us like our mobile operators

TataDoCoMos recent ad campaigns have been very powerful, to say the least. Kudos to the agency and the marketing teams who could communicate and highlight the pain-points so well.

Mobile operators

I saw the ad recently and it brought back some recent experiences with the biggest brand of them all – Airtel.  I have done my share of complaining and highlighting it to their customer care, so this is NOT a whining session. This is just an attempt to understand why some of the biggest companies fail to deliver on customer experience.

1.  You are not the focus segment

E.g. SMEs. At our start-up venture where we had a couple of connections , we wanted a few more connections and we were pretty happy to apply for them online. But after speaking to the customer care executive who promised that someone would call us back, we had to end up reaching out to the local DSA.

I guess start-ups (esp in service sector) are not the focus for most service providers (the numbers just dont add up). I had faced similar issues in the banking sector, when we were looking for  employee salary accounts.

My recommendation : All start-up accelerators and angel investors should come together to give business to a guy who will provide basic  services to start-ups (like telecom connections, banking accounts, Payment gateways, HR services , accounting services etc). Or atleast point them in the right direction.

2.  Someone came up with a neat trick

I had the unlimited data-usage plan at home and had not been using the pc/internet at home so much. Thought of calling and downgrading the plan. The first time I called, I asked them what plan I was on and what options did I have. They checked my number and said the system is down so they cannot pull out more info.

It slipped my mind and I called back after 15-20 days. Same story. Then it suddenly stuck me, that both the times I was on hold while the agent checked and it was only after a few seconds that they came back saying system was down.  Do they really want me to believe that their system suddenly goes down whenever a user on the top-end plan asks for available plans. Or is it a smart way to manage the “number of plan down-grades” per month. I am sure someone in their Usage & Retention team gets measured by that metric and not really by “% happy customers who continue to stay happy”.

3. They don’t have a process for this

Our experience with getting a connection discountinued and then being harassed for collections showed us that it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. The collection teams (probably) work independently with little or no real time access to customer accounts. So if they got a base on 3rd of a month, they will keep calling, until it has been removed from the system. They have not identified and defined a solution for those instances where their “usual/typical” scenario is bypassed.

Personally feel, that you can not design for all possible instances on day one. Instead, our systems should evolve and evolve continously, to ensure that each customer use-case is accounted for at an appropriate time.

4. Not every channel is equal

This one I really fail to understand. Why would such a big organization want to cross-sell and up-sell only through DSAs and not through an in-bound channel too. There is just no ownership for any in-bound call that would convert into a sale. I guess the margins all go to the DSA. Guess they don’t want to rock the ship with DSAs bringing in a lions share of their new connections and re-charge.


Conclusion: I firmly believe that there would be a time soon, when new brands and ventures will de-throne the current ones – by just focusing on customer delight. People might even be willing to pay a small premium for that promise.