Home > Ideas > You got the wrong number!

You got the wrong number!

Yes, telecom operators in India are in dire straits – the spectrum costs, the scams and controversies, falling revenues; they are in desperate need for some good news. But do they have their house in order … what are they doing to retain the existing set of customers?

I use a Vodafone prepaid connection.

Yesterday Rs. 106 was debited from my account. Last call details said that I had not made any lengthy conversation nor had I made an international call, even by accident.

Getting through to the Call Centre I discovered that the deduction was for Internet Access – I had used the GPRS facility without enabling any Plan in my account. I remember having used GPRS to download an application … sadly, even that attempt was unsuccessful!

Vodafone, and I guess other mobile operators too, charge a huge amount for GPRS usage if you are not on a plan– 10 paise per 1 KB used. So I had downloaded around 1 MB of data to attract that Rs. 106 debit.

Now, here comes the interesting bit. For just Rs. 14/- Vodafone allows me to download up to 500 MB in 3 days – which works out to a cost of 28 paise per MB.

Why would they charge a customer 350 times for the same usage just because he or she isn’t on a plan? A 5-fold or even a 10-fold increase is explainable, but a 350-fold increase for non-plan usage? It’s not just steep …. Unpardonable and unacceptable are the words that pop into a customer’s mind. I had used GPRS for less than 15 minutes!

I am aware that telecom companies in India are facing huge operational issues and cannot find a way to keep themselves afloat – so they need to discover all the possible revenue streams and use them to maximum advantage. Most operators are even resorting to activating services on the phones without the permission of the customer.

What if customers decide to churn and use another network on account of such irritants? Why are operators taking risks of the nature mentioned above especially when moving from one network to the next is possible without changing one’s phone number?

Yes, I have heard the term “caveat emptor” and the need for customers to be aware of the costs before using services. But there is something called “benefit of the doubt” too – the operators who are used to sending messages and making calls to customers at the drop of a hat could easily send a warning note to customers saying they are using a service without activating the plan and that would attract a huge cost.

Robust revenue growth happens only when you the number of satisfied customers grows Q-on-Q. Giving customers a fair deal ( in this case either the benefit of the doubt and sending them a notification on the impact of non-Plan usage) would create a huge positive impact and help to retain customers on the network for much longer …. And it is a well-known fact that customers who are happy and customers who have been with us much longer are the ones who generate the highest revenue.

Have the marketing teams in the telecom companies forgotten their basics?

Categories: Ideas Tags: ,
  1. Sunish Sugathan
    May 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

    True, it is high time that telecom operators try and build customer confidence and satisfaction. Otherwise, as Jayadevji pointed out, they run the risk of losing customers through ‘number portability’ route.

    • JayadevM
      May 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Hi Sunish

      Thank you for the support and the exodus of customers is already happening

  2. Ajimon
    May 22, 2012 at 9:20 am

    As u r aware I’m still doing my mobile business. I still face at least 20-25 walk ins with customers having the same problem as u mentioned. I always wonder y these companies charge their customers so brutally. I have given a lot of feedbacks to the top bunch of guys, but they seems to have taken it as a usual procedure. I guess companies are taking each opportunity for making only money and not satisfied customers.
    I have seen docomo advts teasing all these “rituals”. God knows whats happening with their customers. Pay for only what use 🙂

    • JayadevM
      May 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Hi Ajimon

      You are one of the oldest in the game and if you say this imagine the plight of the customers.

      Back when I worked in telecom we used to have a direct connect with our customers. Today it’s hard to get a human voice at the other end of the line.

      Even when you walk into a Service Centre they try to educate you on how to use SMS or the IVRS to activate and deactivate services. It’s as if they want the customer to leave them alone.

  3. vijayenggster
    May 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Great One …. I think everybody is trapped once, before they actually learn about the facts & mariegold plans of telecom companies. The Best is to study everything from top to bottom before getting in to any mess. My exp. is that we dont have control on any of the telecom plans, better to study everythin & churn the plans accordingly in our benifit.

    • JayadevM
      May 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Useful suggestion, Vijay – Caveat emptor!

  4. May 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    sad state of affairs!

    • JayadevM
      May 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm


      It can change only if there is the will.

  5. Vijay Gargipati
    May 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

    having been in telecom sales, i know for a fact that very few people check what they are actually paying for and telcos make the most of it!!!!

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm


      I know! 🙂

      Been there … 12 years in telecom!

  6. June 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    What happened to the concept “Customer is always right” which will support to your theory and it does Jayadev.
    Robust revenue growth happens only when you the number of satisfied customers grows Q-on-Q. Giving customers a fair deal ( in this case either the benefit of the doubt and sending them a notification on the impact of non-Plan usage) would create a huge positive impact and help to retain customers on the network for much longer ….

    • JayadevM
      June 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Paul

      The customer may not be right all the time … but I am sure that there is a way of explaining things to him or her without rudely telling them that they are wrong. Explained with logic and reason most customers understand. And it pays for organisations to say Sorry! and make amends when they are wrong. Most organisations take customers for granted and turn rigid in their dealings.

      They only learn when the customer teaches them a lesson by voting with their feet – they head for the exit never to return again.

      You are absolutely right about the positive effect of good Customer Service.

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