Today most service providing consumer organizations are facing a deadlock with lot of consumers who are not happy with their complaints. They have their dedicated customer care units, but all they do is send you an automated e-mail saying ‘Assuring you of best of our servives’ while they do not even understand the problem. Customers keep writing, sometimes they get the calls from various people in the organization who only say ‘I will get back to you’ and your problem remains where it is. Most of these problems are systemic issues in the organizations which they are either not aware of or try to ignore the scale or impact of the complaint.
A case in point is Airtel. You can get a connection with required documentation, but try giving up that connection. Almost impossible. You fill the forms, you write e-mails, you tell them s strict NO on their persuasion calls, but they do not disconnect and keep sending you the bills long after you have moved from the city and have not used their services. Many customers across the country have faced this problem. The key problem is there is no SLA on disconnecting. In their bid to maintain the number of subscribers they do not want you to give up their services. But that does mean they do not have a documented process to do so.
Idea is to create a problem that understands problems from customers and based on the collective problem asks the company to sort it out in a given time frame. This idea has been tried by Govt, but failed miserbaly. they in fact wanted to charge the brands to provide this service, and apparently brands were willing to pay. They could not get the right momentum going on this initiative and hence never took off.
I propose a slightly different version of the same complaints portal – Sign up with few brands – Telecom companies and large private Banks would be a good beginning. Use the social media to get complaints – when consumers are suffering they will hold on to any straw handed to them. And see if you can be the mediator between the consumer and the company. Works well for everyone, consumers do not have to take a legal recourse which is expensive and time taking, companies can sort out their issues peacefully while improving their internal systems.
There are smaller organizations doing it in a small and specialized way, like The Hoot that takes complaints against media misconduct and tries to get them sorted.
This can be a non-profit idea, or you can charge the brands a bit for each complaint that you take to them. This idea requires some knowledge of law, consumer rights, knowledge of focussed organizations working in some niche areas and operating processes of business organizations. This needs to be tested as you are trying to make a business model based on disputes and complaints.
I am happy to announce that entrepreneur Prateek Narang has picked up the experience gifting idea and is working on it.