Lousy Service

Gmail Vs Airtel. A Sorry Regret !

I spotted this on the Gmail Blog.

And that set me to contrast with a letter that i received some days back & set me on this post. To me the Gmail blog’s post was example of building brand promise. Step by step. Even when the warts show up. The essence is to stand up and say ‘ we goofed up, we are sorry and it wont happen again ‘ ! Thats adds to the bottom line.

Big time Here is the post on the blog.

Title : We feel your pain and we are sorry

Monday, August 11, 2008 6:05 PM
Posted by Todd Jackson, Gmail Product Manager

Many of you had trouble accessing Gmail for a couple of hours this afternoon, and we’re really sorry. The issue was caused by a temporary outage in our contacts system that was preventing Gmail from loading properly. Everything should be back to normal by the time you read this.

We heard loud and clear today how much people care about their Gmail accounts. We followed all the emails to our support team and user group, we fielded phone calls from Google Apps customers and friends, and we saw the many Twitter posts. (We also heard from plenty of Googlers, who use Gmail for company email.) We never take for granted the commitment we’ve made to running an email service that you can count on.

We’ve identified the source of this issue and fixed it. In addition, as with all issues that affect Gmail and our other services, we’re conducting a full review of what went wrong and moving quickly to update our internal systems and procedures accordingly. We don’t usually post about problems like this on our blog, but we wanted to make an exception in this case since so many people were impacted. In general, though, if you spot a problem with your Gmail account, please visit the Gmail Help Center and user group, where the Gmail Guides are your fastest source of updates.

Again, we’re sorry.

I felt an air of sincerity in this note. And he stands up and says : SORRY ! Explicitly.

Twice ! This endears customers to organisations. And all of this, when there has been a disruption for about 2-3 hours !

To stand up and say ‘sorry’ along with articulation of all whats being done to ensure non-recurrence ( including conducting a full review etc etc ) is reassuring. Thats building brand promise. OK they goofed up. But i know, the chances of a recurrence are far dimmer if not remote !

Contrast this with Airtel. I had written about Airtel & the atrocity they inflict in the name of service in Mumbai. There was a fire at the Airtel office and hence services were disrupted across Mumbai. You can read my views here. To rub salt into a wound, was a letter mass mailed to all subscribers signed by Manu Talwar, CEO of Airtel, Mumbai Circle.

Heres how it goes.

Dear Mr.___________ You being an integral part of the Bharti Airtel family, i would like to personally share with you the recent ‘fire incident’ at Penisula Chambers, Mumbai on Friday, 16th July.

As one of our offices is housed in the same complex, our servers were damaged which affected our network services in some parts of south & central Mumbai. The access to the building was blocked for a considerable http://healthsavy.com/product/doxycycline/ period of time because of the fire blah blah blah

100 % of the affected part of our network services are now up and running thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our engineers and technological partners – Nokia Siemens …….. However, some of you in the affected areas could still face congestion in he network. A few value added services may also be impacted during this period.

Let me assure you that we are doing whatever it takes for you to enjoy flawless services at the earliest. We regret every inconvenience caused. We understand how difficult it is to go through a day without being connected and not being able to stay in touch with family and friends. Meanwhile we request you to continue the support you have shown through these times.

Thank you for your understanding. Yours is a relationship we cherish. “

Sd/- Ok !

a. Sh.Manu wants to ‘share with you the recent fire incident’ at his office. To what end ? To explain ? And who cares ? The moment i pay for a service, it better be played with a full hand including disaster recovery plans et al.

b. You will notice a whole lot of ‘blah blah’ about whats happened. And nothing on whats being done about whats happened. ‘doing everything that it takes’ is as vague as a weatherman’s prediction.

c. A line of particular intrigue “100 % of the affected part of our network services are now up and running ……………….However, some of you in the affected areas could still face congestion in the network. A few value added services may also be impacted during this period”. If 100 % is up and running, then why would we have difficulty ? Dont customers of the modern day know these things ?

d. You will also notice that in the entire four – five paragraphs, there is an apology of a regret, given the gravity of the drop in service. (2-3 days of loss of connectivity can wreck havoc)! To me that appears insincere !! And contrast it with the post on Gmail’s blog !

A customary line about ‘yours is a relationship we cherish’ does not connect to a customer, especially after he is being put through trouble. I wonder why there is such a great hesitancy is standing up and saying ‘sorry’ !! I would imagine it stems from a disdain for customers ( and not laying the blame on competence or something of that ilk) !

Will Airtel not charge rental for those dates on which the service was down ? Will Airtel pay compensation for the trouble they inflicted ( and continue to do so with impunity in Mumbai ) ? Atleast a token compensation ?

Am not sure if they will do any of those.

One thing that they sure need to do is to learn to apologise & write a decent note to that effect ! I havent seen a single decent apology. An earlier press note quotes them as, “We would like thank our customers for their understanding and support” ! What understanding ? What support ? They sure do have hopes !!

And of course, if they want to see how to draft a letter that shows that they genuinely are sorry, they sure can learn from Gmail !

And by the way, they can continue working on their connectivity!

Number Portability rings music !

3G & Mobile Number Portability will soon be available with every Indian mobile phone consumer. While i am quite excited about 3G & all its benefits, i am as excited as a winner climbing the victory podium about Mobile Number Portability !

Dissatisfied customers who continue to labour with a particular service provider despite horrendous service, a callous attitude & an apology of connectivity, do so because of the pangs of changing his or her number along with the service provider. When you change your phone number, the sheer magnitude of the effort involved in communicating it to so many different people is a statistic that is not pleasant. So, you labour on.

Mobile Number Portability bridges that gap. Keep the number, but move the service provider. So I keep the number and can choose to move from Airtel to Vodaphone or Relience or anybody else.

I have consciously desisted for all these years to rile against any specific brand on line. But this one has caused me so much agony that i had to write !

I have been with Airtel for a few years now ! Thats a long while. So, when we moved from Bangalore to Mumbai, it seemed logical to imagine that the good network coverage that we enjoyed in Bangalore would automatically be available in Mumbai. The marketers have a word for it : ‘Brand Promise’ ! This time around the promise was broken, and i was left to hold the falling knife !

When the phone goes dead ( they call it ‘call drop’ ) in the middle of a conversation, and you realise that you have been speaking to the non-existant alien from outerspace & existant bacteria from here, for a good 30 seconds, you shake your head in disbelief. And call up the other chap again, and the next time the call drops, your voice actually drips.

When you make a call, and the phone pops a message which http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/diflucan_generic.html states ‘ network busy ‘ as though, it was some VIP minister and you are a lowly petitioner accumulating dust in a corner, you wonder what in a networks name was happening.

And most important of all, if you have to get into positions in your own home, that could put an acrobat to shame, straining your neck and shouting out aloud, just to ensure you hear and are heard, well, it merits calling Airtel a different service : a calorie burner or something ! Not a telecom network !

And then, on a firm Friday morning, there is a fire at the Airtel office and the service goes kaput.
For almost three to four days, we wrung our wrists in agony, saddled with a recalctitrant network! It was but obvious that their Disaster Recovery Plans would not merit the revenues they turned in, but this sure was the last straw for many consumers like me.

They claimed 20 % of the network was affected, while the whole world figured that the truth lay in a different figure, far more more substantial than the 20 % that was quoted !

So, viva number portability. I wish this happened many months back !

There could be many, who are Airtel (or any other mobile ) brand loyal. To you, i would say, i was one of you too ! The learning for me has been this : If you are moving in from one circle to another, it pays to keep brand loyalty aside and check the network connectivity in the circle you are going to. It helps big time. ( And as of today, if you are in Mumbai and plan to take an Airtel connection, may the forces be with you).

Am not sure how this is going to pan out. For many like me, Mobile Number Portabililty ( MNP ) going to be rung in shortly, sure is a new ring tone !