Dear Sunil Mittal,
You may not know me! When I signed on with Airtel during early 2007, I became part of your( and Shah Rukh’s and Madhavan’s and Vidya’s and now Saifeena’s) family.
On Valentine’s day, when members of Sri Rama Sene was unpacking pink chaddi’s and Nisha Susan was overseeing the final packages to Mutalik, I walked into our office in Koramangala with my daughter.
This was not part of a field trip! In fact, I wanted to mix business with pleasure. In other words, I took a detour while spending quality time with my daughter to cancel my old Airtel number (Gurgaon number). In these trying times, paying for my old and new numbers at the same time is going to affect the “quality time” with my daughter!
When I walked into our office, I saw a microcosm of India in the 500 sq ft office. I was bought up in a joint family culture and so, I was very excited to see other family members.
There were around 8 customer service representatives at the counter. There were fancy plates hanging from the roof announcing the areas of expertise namely Post-paid, Pre-Paid and Billing.
The queues in front of these counter were reminiscent to traffic in Bangalore. You have 2 lanes on the road. But if you look at the vehicles, they manage to squeeze another 2 lanes magically; thereby giving an illusion of a four lane road.
After examining the three post-paid counters, I chose the shortest one. The shortest one turned into the longest one in no time. I spent an hour and a half in the queue before I got near a Customer Service Representative (CSR).
The CSR provided me with a blank sheet and asked me to fill in an application. I did so. The CSR started keying in details into the computer and started consulting with other CSRs. I broke a cold sweat! In those moments, I believed I was an outlaw and I have amnesia.
My daughter broke the ice. She started asking about updates. Following this, a lot more CSRs joined in to complete the process. My daughter is very persistent and also tireless. She started asking for an update every few seconds. As a result, the CSRs displayed embarrassment, annoyance and anger in a matter of minutes. If I and some of our family members were not there to support my daughter, the CSRs would have pounced on her!
After a few minutes, they announced that my application is complete and my number will be disconnected in another 10 business days. I thanked them and stepped out. The CSRs were also apologetic. As part of the infrastructure upgrade, there are newer computer application in place. But, they are confused on how to use them.
Later, when I recalled the events of the day, I remember seeing a lot of disgruntled faces. Everyone was protesting in different ways – silently, cautiously and angrily. I could not see a single happy face in the 500 sq ft office – neither behind the counter nor before the counter.
Isn’t it time to stop on your feet and think of the following aspects?
- Growing subscriber base without having the right number of customer service representatives.
- Reducing the dependency on the offices when there are alternatives available – web, phone and fax!
- Cross training the support staff (Pre-paid person would not even touch the post paid customer even with a very long pole).
- Train the support staff when there is an infrastructure upgrade
I’m still hopeful. I am not going to defect yet. I love your “Barriers break when people talk” ad. Please continue to break the barriers. But please do not break my trust!