Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for July 2012

Few days back, I got a marketing call from my mobile service provider, they suggested a new bill plan for me. It was very attractive, lot of benefits when compared to my current plan, and the price was also reasonable (Rs 1000).

So, I decided to shift to this new plan and gave them my decision. I got an SMS immediately, everything went smooth. I started enjoying all the new plan benefits, and felt happy about the right decision.

One month later, yesterday I got the bill and it was a shocker, because, it had Rs 2000 as the plan cost, instead of Rs 1000.

I am sure all of us would have faced this kind of a problem before, we would dial the call center, shout at some helpless lady there that the company has cheated us, threaten them that you will go to court and finally, (if lucky) get the refund back. This post is NOT one such story, believe me 🙂

My intention is not to share my frustrations with you or throw dirt at the mobile company (That’s why I am not even mentioning their name here). Instead, I fully understand that such service issues can happen at any company, and want to think aloud on what is the best way to handle them.

Coming back to my story, I immediately contacted their call center, informed them that they have charged me Rs 2000 instead of Rs 1000 and asked for a refund (and reason). The gentleman on the other side of the phone was very kind, apologized for the error, took just few seconds to understand the real issue, and gave me a solution almost immediately. (May be many people are facing the same problem!)

Actually, the plan to which I subscribed to, is called “Package 2000” (or something similar), which means, the fixed rent on this plan is Rs 2000 per month, and then, they enable something called a “50% discount package” on top of it. As a result, you will get Rs 1000 discount on your bill every month, bringing the effective rent to Rs 1000 only.

In my case, they never told me about this complexity, and simply sold it as a “1000 Rupees package”. Technically, it is not cheating, but they should have mentioned it clearly during the “Marketing” phase.

OKay, Marketing is done, I am ready to buy the package, at least now, someone should have told me that the plan is actually called “Package 2000” and I would have asked “Why 2000?”. They missed this step too.

Biggest mistake, they forgot to enable the “50% discount package” for me. As a result, I got a bill for Rs 2000 now, instead of Rs 1000.

The call center person could revert it back to Rs 1000 very easily, and enable my “50% discount package”. I am happy, I even gave that person a “5/5” rating as the feedback. But, the bitterness is there with me, that they didn’t handle this right.

What they could have done differently?

  1. They could have created a simple “Package 1000”, instead of a complex combination “2000 Package” + “50% discount” (Owner : Product Management / Marketing)
  2. Even otherwise, They could have told me clearly about the package, instead of selling it to me as a “Package 1000” (Means, you are hiding facts about your products to your customer, just to make a sale) (Owner : Marketing / Sales)
  3. They could have put a process in place, to ensure that “2000 Package” always goes with “50% discount” package, just to make sure no customer gets a surprise after their first bill (Owner : Delivery / Deployment / Billing)

These are the “Expected” reactions, if they want to go one level up, they can “surprise” or “delight” the customer by taking few more initiatives, but that would be too much to expect at this stage 🙂

Now, let us analyze this entire story from a Customer Relationship Management standpoint, these are the transactions, and the result:

  1. Marketing call to customer : Success
  2. Sales to customer : Success
  3. Delivery of the product (package) : Success
  4. Customer raised a complaint about Billing
  5. Customer complaint resolved in 2 minutes : Success
  6. Customer gave a “5/5” rating : Super Success

Do you see the problem? My mobile service provider will NEVER know that things went wrong in my relationship with them, they will never know that there are number of improvement suggestions they need to work on, if they just look at the statistics above. Unless and until I write a long Email detailing all these to their senior management, they will be under the impression that everything went smooth. Even after I write one such mail, there is no assurance that action will be taken against it.

This proves beyond doubt, that CRM is not just transactions, it is the overall relationship that matters. If you just look at the customer records / activities / feedback numbers, you may be missing the real picture altogether.

There is a very famous quote about statistics, let me borrow it and modify it slightly : “CRM systems and reports are just like mini-skirts, they give you good inputs, but hide the most important things!”

***

N. Chokkan …
20 07 2012

Let us say, you are reading a long article from your favourite website. It goes on and on, you like it, but there is no time, you need to leave NOW. Otherwise you won’t be able to catch the bus to reach home.

With heavy heart, you shut down the computer, leave your office, get inside the bus, find a cozy seat… Ah, Bliss!

But, this comfort lasts only few minutes. Suddenly, you are bored, really bored. It will take at least 45 minutes more to reach home. ‘May be I can finish that article now?’

So, you take out your smart phone, open the internet browser and start searching for that article. No luck. Even after many different combination of keywords, you are not able to find it.

This is crazy, just a few minutes back you were reading that article, now you are not able to locate it. Looks like you can’t read it till you reach office tomorrow morning, switch on the same computer, and use the same browser, so that you can find the article from “Recently Viewed Items”.

Oops. This is bad Internet experience. Just because I switched to a new device (Smart Phone), I lost all my internet browsing history. Not fair!

Google realized this and they have come-up with a cute little concept called “Browser Sync” across devices. This means, irrespective of where you access internet from (Your office PC, home PC, Smart Phone, Tablet PC, any other device), your browsing experience remains the same, as long as you use Google Chrome as your browser.

For example, I may be reading a long article in PC, continue reading it in phone, go home and share it with my friends via a different PC. Tomorrow, I may be sitting with a client in their office, suddenly remember this interesting article and show it to them by opening it in their laptop… All these browsers are synchronized with each other, so that I have the same internet browsing experience wherever I am.

Now, let us not worry about the technicalities on how Google achieved this. Instead, we need to focus on how this changes the way we experience internet.

Each device we use to access internet, is a new channel. All of them connect us to the same internet, we access the same websites, but the browsers installed in those machines, make it a ‘silo’ experience. Means, Browsing internet from my computer, is different from Browsing internet from my phone, they are two disconnected experiences.

With “Browser Synchronization”, Google has totally removed this complexity. Irrespective of which channel (device) I use, my browsing experience remains the same. I can start my journey in one device, continue in another, and finally conclude it in a totally difference device. Smart!

Let us take this example to a real world scenario : I open a newspaper and there is an ‘interest’ing advertisement about a new scheme where I can get better returns on my Fixed Deposits.

I like it, decide to invest some money in this scheme. I visit the Bank’s website for applying.

Surprise. There is absolutely no information in the Bank’s Website homepage about this advertisement I just saw. I search a bit, Not able to find it.

So, I call their support center. provide details on who I am, and ask for details on how to open a Fixed Deposit using this scheme. Even they are not aware of the changed rates and promising to get back to me asap.

Now, I am frustrated. These guys want my business or not?

Problem is, I am moving between channels : Newspaper, Web, Phone : Each channel may be very sophisticad, may have excellent technology backbone, Yet, they are not connected. Each has its own way of providing information and they are not synchronized yet. As a result, I am not getting a consistent experience.

Instead, Imagine this case :

  • I see a Newspaper Advertisement
  • This Advertisement has a special URL
  • Instead of going to the regular website (http://www.mybank.com/) I go to this URL (http://mybank.com/newFD)
  • It provides me all the details about the advertised scheme
  • I can fill out a form to express my interest
  • This form gives me a Unique Code, The same code is SMSed to my phone number
  • I walk into the branch, Give this Unique Code to them from my phone
  • They have a prefilled document with all my details, where I need to just sign, provide my cheque and the account is opened… All done in 60 seconds

Now, we can go a step ahead and make it 100% electronic, but that is not the point here. Even in the second example, I switched between multiple channels (Newspaper, Web, Physical Branch), still my experience is consistent, which saves time for everyone, avoides errors, and improves the overall customer satisfaction.

Google has done it with a common browser across multiple devices. Companies need to start thinking what / where / how they can “Sync”, so that the “Customer Experience” is improved.

***

N. Chokkan …

04 07 2012


Disclaimer

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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