Customer Care or Cost-More Care?

“We are very sorry for the problem you are currently facing, we will get in touch with you and solve your problem within the next 12 to 24 hours”, is the usual response of the Customer Care of a leading telephone operator of Mumbai and Delhi. Sounds stereo type?, funny?, monotonous? hmmm…. Yes, but, looks like there is no other option is left with us other than believing and waiting for their responses.

When I recharge my pre-paid mobile with some special plan, it hardly gets activated within the stipulated 24 hours of time. Some time it never gets activated for days; as if we have not paid for the service. One has to literally fight with the customer care to get it activated. The first and foremost answer one will get is “Currently there are some system problem we are facing. We are working on it. We will get in touch with you and solve your problem as soon as possible”, without giving any time frame. But, that (getting touch with me) never happened with me in the last 3/4 years. I have never received any call from them till now 😦 In this situation, either one has to call again and again till the problem does not get solved, or forget the problem, rather accept that as it is (which most of us do).

Some time many of us have to fight literally with the customer care officer/manager to get the work done. The most irritating thing happens when they (customer care officers) start teaching us the technology and start bluffing without knowing anything. One can understand that they are hired for these kind of jobs and to speak like this. That is not their fault, they are trained to behave like that and are paid for that, instead the companies/ service providers have to be blamed and charged for their poor service records. In some cases, one will experience arrogant, ignorant and un-professional customer care agents. One has to be very careful while dealing with them and needs to spend his/her patience, energy and time to explain them and get the things done. For an instance, I had spent some 1 hour 34 minutes in one go and many more hours before that for 3 days continuously to explain a typical technical problem which I had faced. In that process I filed 3 complaints, spoke to at least 15 executives and spent some 150 rupees. In a quite similar note, one of my friends had spent 10 days to explain his problem related to call routing for a new mobile number.

Neither my problem nor my friend’s problem got solved. I lost patience and changed my recharge scheme and my friend stopped calling to that number. These are just a few instances, there are many more 😦

Facing customer care problems are neither new nor related to any particular company or organization. It happens with most of the companies and the service providers. Be it a credit card company or a telephone operator, or an insurance company or a mobile phone manufacturer; the same story repeats in some or the other form.

With the recent advancements in technology and with the rise and need of on-line transactions, one has to keep a tag on his/her on-line spendings and/or transactions, else fraud transactions will add woe to the sad stories, as it had happened with me some two years back. I had spent two months completely during Dec 2005 and Jan 2006 to get rid off the frequent threating calls from the credit card company for none of my mistake. Some one bought some thing in Europe using my credit card number, while I was in India. The transaction too was exceeded my credit limit by some Rs 75k. Without warning/informing me about the huge transaction, the bank simply approved that transaction and put heavy fine on me for exceeding the limit. My nightmare started after that; I had to fight and used to call the customer care almost 3 times a day for about 2 months. Even I had filed a police complaint to save my skin from the Hired Gundas of the credit card company. Experience with the customer care was horrible and pathetic.

With the rise in on-line national and international transactions through credit cards, it may happen that you will face the problem and pay not for your mistakes only; a simple mistake of some one else can force you to pay a huge amount. For an instance, if you do a foreign transaction on your card, and if by any mistake the merchant charges you twice or more, and returns the extra amount charged after your complain, you are still going to pay a certain amount for which you not at all responsible. This is because, even if you are successful in convincing the customer care of the merchant regarding the fault at their end, and manage to get that debited to your account, the foreign currency transaction charge that your bank charged and the difference in selling and buying of currency will be credited to your account. And, … I doubt 😦 neither you will be able to convince the bank nor the merchant and with no option left…, you will have to pay the difference amount. The customer care is hardly of any use in this situation.

Saying all this, I don’t discount the govt agencies from the customer care related problems. Be it Indian Railway or India Post, the problem is there every where. I had a bad experience with the Post Office for my NSC transfer some time back. Had to ran around many officials and many offices to get that transfered and to get my matured money back. But, the sad thing is… the transfer did not happen for 3 months until I file an RTI application with the local post office. The tone of the customer care officer or the post office officials got changed with 180 degree at the moment I fled the RTI. Till that time they were just ignoring my complaints with their usual answer “ho jayega… hum ne to bhej diya, wahan ki official respond hi nahin karte” 😦

One has to learn the art of speaking and/or writing to the customer care while dealing with the problems. If possible, keep a tab of all conversations/correspondences, like the customer care officers’ name, time of conversation and the complaint number, if any. If you are writing any emails, keep a track of all emails and produce if required. If you are sending by snail mails, then keep photocopies of all letters those you have sent. Always send through the courier or through speed/registered post and keep all receipts for your record. That makes your case stronger.

One has to learn from the mistakes, else will end up spending hours and hours for filing the same complaint again and again with different customer care officer 😦 without getting any solution.

Said all that, the question arises, whether we should call them Customer Care or Cost-More Care?

Aamjunta it is your turn now to decide πŸ™‚

Main Hoon Na!/ Koi Hai Na!

Every time I get bugged by my friends regarding my marriage, and my would be, I simply smile mischievously and answer, “arreh, ho jayega, koi na koi toh mil hi jayega, abhi toh dhunda nahini, dundhna toh suru karu!”. That simple answer has created many interesting discussions and fun in the last four/five years. With my confident answer, some think, “he has some thing, else how can he say like this?” But the truth is, “no one is there, but, I believe, will get some one” πŸ™‚ Do you think I only say these things without actually believing? No, it is quite common, many of us say the same thing in some way or the other, for some thing or the other. And then life goes on…

Actually, some thing or some one is there in store for every thing/every one. Nothing is isolated, nothing is alone! Every problem has some solution, only if one tries his/her best. And, even if it is not there, we still live with a hope that some thing will happen miraculously on some or other day of our lives. Some people also call it hope. Every one of us live with some faith and some belief, and the universe is existing on that basis. You can name it God or parents or friends or some one very close to you, but it is (they are) always there to help at the time of your need. But, one has to know whose help and what kind of help he/she requires. For an instance, one should know what key word should be used to search through a search engine like Google.

A friend might be any one or any thing, and some times might happen that you your self are your best friend. If no one is there by you and you are a non-believer, then don’t worry, your self confidence is there. There is a Bengali song making such a statement: “jadi tor daak sune keyo na aashe tohbe aekla chalo re”. One has to help himself first, then the other. Without self confidence, nothing can be done; the kid can’t walk, the pilot can’t fly and even I can’t write and you can’t read :). Self confidence is the most crucial thing which one can experience at every part of his/her life. If you do not have the self confidence, then how can you lead a team?, how can you direct some one?, how can you save some one? and how can you survive?. Once you realize and understand the inherent force within you, you will start achieving your goals. Without self confidence, Alexander could not have conquered the world, Mahatma Gandhi could not have led the nation for independence, Kapildev could not have scored 175 not out against Zimbabwe and won the world cup. It is more important and desired to try for the (n+1)’th time if you fail on the n’th time; success will be bound to come to you if you are honest in your approach, no matter how difficult it is. Mistakes or failures are part and parcel of life. One should not get demoralized by the failures, instead should learn from the failures to try for another success.

For a society to survive and to grow, belief and faith are essential. With faith and belief we live, the patient survives and doctor operates. One has to believe, else can’t live. Without the faith of the public (aamjunta) the govt can’t work, law can’t be enforced, country can’t prosper. Belief is a state of one’s mind and faith is the fire in one’s heart; they are complementary to each other. Once faith and belief are multiplied with hard work, dedication and honesty, the success is bound to come. For an instance, war ridden Japan could not have achieved what it has today after the failures of 2nd world war. Faith has to be there from both sides, and needs to be created to provide some evidence. For an instance, researchers and students should have faith on their work and should send their research papers to the world out side the campus with a firm belief. Without sending how can they publish any thing? Fear of rejection should not hold them back from submitting their work for review.

One has to remember, “Acceptance and Rejection are the two sides of a coin, and if you want that coin, then you should learn to live with both acceptance and rejection“. Likewise money brings money, paper brings papers, power brings powers and success brings success. One has to remember, “nothing succeeds like success” and “success never comes alone, it has its step brother failure is with him always”. —- but one has to act with faith and belief.

Ammjunta — what is your opinion? What are you thinking about? Koi na koi to Hai…. nahini to Main Hoon Naaaaaaaaaa πŸ™‚

And at the End of the Day …

Yes this is the end of the day…. uploading this article that I promised at the beginning of the day πŸ™‚

Couple of days back we had our Valfi (Valedictory Function). The function was great, attended by many dignitaries. But, the response we got from people for whom the function was arranged was pale. Hardly 50% of the number expected turned up for the event, even though repeated reminder emails were sent and some had even confirmed through emails that they will attend. And the time sense … 😦 , better not to discuss. Neither I am cribbing here about the attitude of people in general, nor I’m worried about their responses. I’m just reflecting upon a general trend which I have experienced for the past one year or so.

The trend I observed was quite interesting, and some times frustrating though! For instance, some of the feedback we got from people during valfi were quite interesting, “no comments” every where, and in some, “this is bad, that is bad and so on”. In most of the cases, the feedback we got, from people for whom we did so much was frustrating as most of them were ignorant about their own state and environment. The other interesting fact I experienced is people’s attitude about achievements. Many are always crazy about what others’ achieve not about what they themselves achieve or should achieve. They are curious and critical about why some one else got an award, but don’t reflect about why they did or did not get that award. I don’t find the statement, “I envy nobody, nobody envies me” true any more; instead it has changed to “I envy nobody, but somebody envies me”, true most of the times. Should I say this as “Leg pulling”? It is just the de-construction of construction πŸ™‚ .

The other instance is IITBGeneral. One can witness infinite number of emails on silly things and even out of context discussions, without a single point of implementation or action. I’m not against the discussion in IITBGeneral — what worries me is some thing different. People have enough time to crib through emails, because that is free. They spend hours and hours on discussing and cribbing that happened this didn’t happen or that didn’t happen; but will not spend a moment reflecting what good has been done for them or how things can be actually improved from the point of “non-happening” in the real sense. One will hardly find any one physically if he/she wants some thing to be done. Their concerns are just confined to emails and discussions in news groups, but how does discussions help the “common man”? I still have not been able to figure out in my 6 yrs of IITB life. That reminds me the famous “Armchair Agriculture” of the writer RK Narayan.

There is a wide gap between action and intention. When the fellowship hike came into light we were bombarded with emails — “when will it be hiked?, “what is the amount?”, “when will it get implemented?”, “it has already got implemented in such and such place” and so on. Fortunately or unfortunately, I hardly got any mail after the scheme got implemented. Fortunately, because my mailbox didn’t get spammed πŸ™‚ , unfortunately, because it shows the selfishness and ignorance in the same aam junta. They want their things to be done but don’t want to contribute a pie to the process. Then why would some one else do for them? – that is the big question!

One more interesting thing one must have experienced during his/her research career is the thesis submission and its duration. It is the most disturbing and irritating moment for a research scholar, when he/she is pellted with the questions like, “when are you completing?” , “how many years left?”, “how long have you taken?”, etc. It is more frustrating when a fellow research scholar quizzes these things, not to know earnestly as to what have you done or how are you placed? Rather to show what he/she is up to. Some are crazy about finishing things quickly and leave. But, that should be personal, not generally expressed. In my opinion, PhD is not a time bound process. It should not be valued in terms of years, rather should be valued in terms of quality and quantity of work. One has to realize that the quality of things one learnt in the process is important. PhD should not be treated as a set point, rather should be treated as a journey; if one spends his/her hard work he will definitely reach at a point, where he/she can philosophize — and a PhD degree of course. Saying that, neither I am undermining and nor am I de-emphasizing the time frame set by an institute to complete a PhD. It should be followed, but with a positive spirit, not to put unnecessary peer pressure to just complete rather than one should aim to complete qualitatively. One of my Professors at IIT Bombay used to ask, Have you done a good literature survey? – if you are a first-yearite, do you have a problem at your hand? – if you are a second yearite, how are you doing? – if you are a third yearite, and how is life? – if you have crossed the 4years limit πŸ™‚

Yes, let me ask – how is life my friends? Must be enjoying. Keep doing and complete as soon as possible. Remember, It is your PhD, and at the end of your PhD, it is the quantity and quality of work that matters, the quality of understanding in your respective disciplines that matters, which will sail you through the rest of your life. One should remember, we all are fellow Research Scholars and we will get PhDs from our respective departments, from our respective streams earlier or later and at the end of our tenures. So treat your peers as fellow research scholars, not as any superior or inferior.

And at the End of The Day — we all are fellow human beings who are made of flesh and blood and should have some respect and concern for another human being.

Aamjunta kya khayal hai?

This article is dedicated to all my fellow research scholars of IITs and any other universities.

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