Is Customer Service just a hyped concept?

Recently I had to interact with two very high growth organizations in India, as a customer. Both the companies are well known in India and are kind of leaders in their own space, one is a bank and another is the mobile service provider.

In the bank, I was facing some random problems with my accounts, the problems were very basic, to me the appeared mistakes, so I promptly wrote to my relationship manager and asked him to correct it. Days, weeks, months passed by, but there was no reply to my mails and phone calls. I had to escalate the issue as not only the time was passing but my no. problems were also increasing. Escalation after escalation happened, till I was talking to the regional head of Karnataka. Till that level no one cared to listen, leave apart attend to my problems. All this when I am so called classified as HNI customer and have a relationship manager to take care of my banking needs, on top of it I work with an organization that is the privileged customer of the same bank. God knows what treatment do the normal customers who walk into the bank for their banking needs. What surprised me was that no one had any inclination to look into the issues, and when the regional head did look into it, he still not had understood the issues or the problems. After exchanging some 50 mails, I could make the guy understand the problem, but still no solution. After few more phone calls a couple of simple ones got sorted, but the more important ones are still hanging. What surprised me was the way all the people in bank try to make a fool of you…the regional manager trying to tell me that he can not credit the interest due to me, as the interest is for the previous financial years…while the dates we were talking about were between Apr-04 and Sep-04, and this conversation happened in Jan-05. Don’t they do any customer profiling in their minds or systems? Just wondering…

With the mobile service provider, I was asked to submit my Id proofs, which I had dually provided when I bought the connection, but the company had lost it. Well some of their executives argue that I have to re-submit as per government orders, but is my PAN no. supposed to change in 18 months. Anyway I did go and re-submit, but still kept getting the messages saying that proofs have not been submitted, the guy whom I submitted refused to give me the acknowledgement that documents have been submitted. You go to their website and try writing to customer care, the e-mail Id is de-funct. The phone numbers go to the call center, where everyone answers in a automated voice ‘Please go to the nearest ….shop and submit your proof’. They do not listen and understand the issue. They do not give you the contact details of anyone higher up in the company. Finally I had to fax across the issue with a copy to the editors of all major publications in Bangalore, which did the trick and I got a mail saying, your documents have been received. Now why do I have to resort to such big steps for a small problem?

Some questions that intrigue me –

Should they not have defined service levels for each transaction?

Should the contact details of the person responsible for customer service not be public?

Should these organizations not publish the escalation mechanisms for their customers?

Anuradha Goyal