Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I'm not giving up on DoCoMo yet?

The old saying says “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were”. In today’s market, consumer loyalty is eroding. With each instances of service failure you are going one step away from the consumer. IMO, this message can be adapted  to something like this “If you love your customers, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't learn from your competitors”.

During the Christmas of 2011, I ported out of  Airtel and joined Tata DoCoMo network. Their billing transparency and  pioneering 1p/sec plan soon transformed me into a DoCoMo loyalist. When you are into a relationship you accept shortcomings. DoCoMo call quality was not the best, however I decided to live with that.

So far so good. My love/hate relationship with DoCoMo started during the summers (July) of 2014.

One fine day I found that the network bars were playing hide-and- seek inside my office premise at Mahim. For first few days I became  a recluse thinking -may be just like its DTH cousin , Tata Sky, poor weather might be playing foul here. Mind you, July is the peak of rainy season in Mumbai. Eventually, I grew impatient with every passing day and subscribed to miss call alert at Rs 30/ month. I decided to formally take it up with DoCoMo customer care.

Outcome : I got a case ID and not the resolution I was looking for.

The next logical step suggests escalation to Appellate authority. I decided to pursue that route.
Outcome: Even more mind-blowing. I received the following response from Sowmya at Appellate desk

"Kindly be informed that coverage on wireless network depends on various parameters, such as number of users accessing the internet at that particular point of time, geographical area, indoor and outdoor signal coverage, weather conditions, other causes of radio interference, material used for the building, configuration of the building, .. etc. So is the case with any other wireless network Operator. However, at TATA Docomo we understand the customer experience is of foremost importance."

While her academic gyans were not something I was looking for, I became  curious

  1.        Indoor signal coverage - Why the same logic is not applicable for Vodafone, whose network coverage is excellent within our office premise?
  2.       Internet users – To the best of my knowledge my office premise close to a parsi locality. They can be Tata loyalist, but recently Tata Docomo hasn’t done any activation which would take the internet usage up in the area. Ofcourse this is to the best of my knowledge.
I responded anxiously to Sowmya inquiring further resolution and a timeline by which it could be fixed. And this one pissed me off completely.

"We will not be able to commit any timeline currently but definitely it will be done in the near future. Further to avoid the billing issue you can migrate the number in prepaid or you can keep the number is safe custody"

The advertising legend Oglivy once said “ Customer is not a moron, She is your wife.”
How does moving into prepaid solves a network issues?? Rather harsh – assuming a part of concerned persons salary comes from my monthly subscription , will he/she accept a salary cut if I port out of DoCoMo family due to wrong advice?

I was relentless. I decided to approach the highest level of authority - DoCoMo president assurance desk.An email and I was done.

How does it feel when you are trying to reach someone in your family and you can’t?  Desperate – right? The missed call alerts from Mr Chaitanya  ( president’s desk) echoed  similar desperation.  I must say it was pleasure talking to him. 24 Hours and counting I am patiently waiting for a resolution. Every miss call alerts adds salt to my injury, but this time I have decided to see the end.

Having said that the marketers within me urged me to think, what different I would have done if I had a customer problem similar to the stated one. My solution goes hereby.

If you are in a business on of networks, service unavailability is not an excuse. Most of the time your customers will be addressing their problems with front end executives. Empower them. Let them think out of the box solutions towards most challenging customers problems. So why not to innovate solutions like this ?

Hey Apurba – We know that we have some challenges towards providing you uninterrupted connectivity. We are also aware that our competitors  have  unmatched network coverage within your office premise. As a resolution , please feel free to buy a competitors SIM of your choice. We will offer you FREE call forwarding from your DoCoMo SIM to the new SIM. This is an intermediary measure, till the time we fix the network issues in next 10 days. During this period you will also have FREE subscription to our miss call alerts , so that you can reach out to your near and dear ones uninterruptedly. Thanks for your support.

Afterall  DoCoMo has innovations inbuilt into its DNA.

Update: I was horribly wrong. Despite my repeated reminders, I have not heard from Mr Chaitanya on the progress. Instead, got an SMS from DoCoMo stating that my issues has been resolved. Yes, there was a courtesy call from customer care, stating the network problem is being worked and there is very low chance that it will be resolved in next 72 Hours even. Beyond that - No timelines. 

So I got my porting code & my hello to new operator. 

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