Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kathaiyalla Nijam

The normal customer care centre in India gives its best service to the nearby tea stalls and mobile phones and if time permits between these, they attend to a few of the innocent victims who got stuck with their company's products and run for cover both from the product and the customer service. This being the case with private companies, its only understandable not to even think about customer care in government offices.

The fact that I didnt pay the money for the past 3 months was behind me and I was eagerly looking to the future when my mobile's screen-saver smiley smiled wickedly at me. Realisation set in. I have to pay the bill. I prepared for a half day leave from my office when I went to BSNL's customer care in Mandaveli to pay the phone bill for my disconnected mobile.

BSNL's Adyar exchange doesn't have the facility to accept cash as payment (the fact that it had an auto-cheque accepter was more than surprising). I was very understanding with them and so accepted to go to Mandaveli. New realisation seemed to have set in for the Corporation people and they started to build a flyover at the Prayer Tower Junction. They made everybody realise it by blocking most of the road with trenches and tunnels.

With the scorching sun to protect me, I reached the exchange. The cheque deposit counter was at the entrance itself. Though the automatic machine had a touch screen to guide people through, a person was permanently seated near the machine to do your work of depositing the cheque for you. Yes. Customer Service. The one thing to note here is that you need to write down all the details of the phone stuff behind the phone bill and only then will he proceed. So much for automation. I had come for cash payment. And I needed immediate activation. It was 12:45 PM. I had 15 minutes to complete my work. After 1300 hours, come what may, things go to a stand still here. I was racing against time.

I ran to first floor. There was a queue at the cash counter. Cursing my fate, I stood there. To add to my new found happiness, two "influential" persons came, ignored the queue and directly went to the counter and started talking to the cashier. One self-respecting person before me requested them to stand in the queue. They said they were not customers,blah blah blah and turned to talk to the cashier.

Now comes the Anti-climax. The cashier did'nt respond to them at all. He told the self-respecting person to keep calm and that he will take care. And he did take care. Cos, they both were waiting till the queue where I was standing got over. I was dumbfounded. This cannot happen. I must be dreaming. Still with the effect of that incident, I was redirected to the third floor where mobile activations take place.

5 more minutes. I ran to the third floor. The lady sitting there told me that they will activate it by today evening. Then the creativity in my mind sparked off and I told her that this mobile was used for business and I need an immediate activation (now hows that for a story?!!!). So, she showed me the direction to go to a senior officer for immediate activation. I looked in the direction she showed.

There was a door. I went there and started pushing and pulling at it. It did not even budge. I tried my strength for sometime before asking the lady why the door is not opening. She was shocked to see me doing that and asked me to go to another door nearby. Then, I realised why she was shocked. It is not a door. It WAS a door once. It had been locked from the other side and people were sitting nearby and working. My imagination took the better of me for sometime where i was opening that door, things breaking, people running....mmmm. Creativity.

I ran to the senior officer. He was busy talking with someone. That was normal. You are in a government office. You need to talk. If you only work, you will be alienated. You will be a reject. A snob. Then, he became free. I ran in. I told him my "business" urgency. He looked at me and the bill. What followed was totally mind blowing for me. He got my bill, went to a computer nearby and opened the "BSNL Customer Care" application. After clicking through a set of menus, he landed up enterning my mobile's account number. It opened up screen where my mobile number's properties were listed. The first two parameters were "Outgoing barred" and "Incoming barred". He right clicked on the two and deleted it. Then, did a save and a refresh. He then asked me to check if both the outgoing and incoming are working for the mobile phone. I dialled the mobile. It WORKED!!!! It took a total of 2 minutes to activate. I thanked him and came home in a trance.

Customer Service at its best.
Ithu Kathaiyalla, Nijam...