Have you ever been one of the few unfortunate ones to take the assistance of the call centre of Airtel Telecom for your Internet, cell phone or land line connections? Do you enjoy the music of Airtel’s ringtones as you keep waiting eternally? What do you infer when you get a recorded message –‘The person whom you want to talk is attending to another call, hang on or call later.’ And how will you react if it happens with you for three-four times? But before going to experience all these, do you get the service after pressing the different numbers one after another responding to the automatic recorded queries to put you to the right person to get you the service you desire? And ultimately when you get talking to someone at the other end, how many times, the connectivity gets off and you are to start all over again, may be with a totally new customer service executive asking the same silly questions again?
I returned from US on August 20. Till today, I have not got my cell phone connected. Airtel has already got a forced payment of Rs 8800 from me and then also, every day I have been getting at least three calls for the payment of Rs 4000 more. And all these are after I had paid before leaving for US on April 22, all the dues for the bills till date and holding charges for the entire period I was to be in US with an email requesting it to ensure that on August 16, my connections must be made active to avoid problem.
Most of the service providers are using call centre based management of these essential aspects of the service for which the customers have paid. One can see and meet any of the officers of the companies to sort of the problems. In name of cost cutting, the associates in call centres are young men and women with no experience to handle the customers’ complaints.
Sunil Mittal boasts of Airtel as the largest telecom in India and well on the way to become MNC. However, in India every one that I talked with is wary of call centre-driven management. It’s just horrible. It’s good that one doesn’t talk face to face with the call centres’ associates, otherwise there would have been many cases getting every day reported of physical violence. It’s disgusting. My cell phone is still not connected with all formalities completed. Private Service providers, be it telecom or banks, are becoming worse than PSUs. What can be the way out?
However, let me say that there are some who are having very responsive call centres. Whenever I dial Indane Gas for refill of my cooking gas cylinder, the system recognizes my telephone number and gets confirmed my connection number and books it giving me the number to follow if required. I never note it down as I am sure I shall receive the cylinder in few days.
Another service provider that I remember is Samsung. As soon as I select the number for airconditioner, it recognizes and responds to my request.
Will Airtel also change for the old men like me? More than me, my children in US are worried and annoyed as they are finding it difficult to contact me. Will it become one of the reasons to leave this country?