Haymarket operations in Mumbai, till about six months ago, were housed in three premises. In a move that was a relief to all, especially to those who had to visit two or more offices regularly, we shifted to a large, spacious new office, and all employees of the two companies that we run in India were under one roof.
We shifted; new office, new furniture, the smell of paint, new air conditioners, etc. All was well till we discovered that none of the mobile services worked inside the office.
I spoke to Arif Ali of Loop Mobile, a dear friend, and yelled for help. A couple of hours later, two engineers from Loop were at my office, and, hey presto, I could make and receive calls from my desk.
My call to Arif helped a minority of my colleagues. I think there are only three out of 100 odd colleagues who subscribe to Loop.
As I write this, many months after the problem was first reported, Loop is the only service which works efficiently in the office. Vodafone, Idea and Airtel, for example, work in some parts of the office and not in others…
And I look at all the communication on number portability and I stop and think.
If I were to go across to a colleague on Vodafone and expressed my wish to port out of Loop Mobile to Vodafone, he, the Vodafone customer, will dissuade me from doing so. Because he is unhappy with the service himself.
Ditto someone on Airtel, someone on Idea, someone on Docomo, someone on BSNL, etc.
Mobile phone companies have a mountain of data on their subscribers – and do precious little with the data.
Mobile service providers have – literally – millions of consumers – and do precious little with them.
Their data can tell them who has been a consumer for how long, who is a national roaming customer, who is an international roaming customer, who uses data services, who has a BlackBerry, and so on.
They know the name of the consumer, his or her address, certainly his or her phone number, in many cases his or her bank, credit or debit card number, and so on.
What would it have taken for the service providers to engage with their existing subscribers and improve satisfaction levels with them before making a noise on number portability?
If they had, when I asked a ‘Vodafone colleague’ about whether I should shift to Vodafone, if he felt special, if he felt cared for, he would recommend the shift with enthusiasm and pride.
I’ve not received a single call from Loop Mobile in the past year asking me whether I was satisfied with the service, whether I had had any problems, whether I had complaints, etc.
Not a single call.
What a waste.
In any conversation with CEOs of advertising and media agencies, one hears of the importance of data and analytics.
And where data is available, nothing seems to be done, as in the case with mobile service providers.
What I wonder about now is, who should have belled the cat? Should the creative agencies focus just on entertaining advertising (I like the Virgin MNP ads the most, followed by the Vodafone ads, followed by the Docomo ads, followed by the Idea ads; the rest I don’t care for too much) or suggest that a logical and lucrative first step would be to engage with existing subscribers and raise their satisfaction levels – or at least the perception of service?
The loss due to the lack of thinking is monumental, as many talk of wanting to port out and very few actually do, because when disgruntled consumers talk to other disgruntled consumers, one ends up choosing the devil one knows.
Which means the creative agencies will keep churning out expensive communication that doesn’t work.
Chew on that.