To start with, let me confirm that this is not a sponsored post by anyone. I am just penning down my experience with a leading DTH company in India I had earlier this week. Usually, the blogosphere is filled with complaints, rants and horror stories of pathetic service from literally all players in any segment. Let this be one of those rare ones which talks about the occasional good experiences?
Anyway, the story goes thus. I have been a DTH subscriber for close to three years now, and right from the start, I decided to stick with one of the early players in the field – TataSky. I should add that right from the day I installed their set top box, I haven’t had any major complaints. That said I wasn’t much of a TV watcher anyway. My mom on the other hand likes her share of sitcoms and daily soaps. Also, being a Malayalee, it helped us if we get most of the major Malayalam channels.
Now, the issue with TataSky was that they had a very limited package for Keralites. Only 7 channels; when compared to more than 10 by most other players. However, we didn’t watch all of them and for the same reason decided to stick to TataSky. The dream run lasted for close to three years.
However, earlier this month TataSky suddenly decided to yank off two Malayalam channels without proper warning. I realized later that they had given notices in Newspapers – but as far as I recall, nothing came to us in the form of an alert on their platform. Then came another notice; yet another Malayalam channel was to be yanked off starting next month. Now, while we understand that TataSky is facing bandwidth issues with limited transponders, it didn’t make sense for us to continue with them when three of the channels that we watched regularly were abruptly withdrawn.
Now started the second phase of the story; Finding an alternate DTH provider. I checked packages available on all competing services and did my research for two days. However, I was stumped upon realizing that being in a small town, there were no dealers nearby for me to walk in and order a connection. I however saw an option on the Airtel DTH website to book a connection online. Now, I was wondering if I can order online and someone would come to my distant place at Palghar (where there are no dealers) to install the STB and antenna.
Now, being the Twitter freak that I am, I decided to tweet it out to Airtel’s official twitter ID, and, within minutes, I received a “standard” reply asking for more details. I was asked to DM my number to the Twitter ID and within 3 minutes I received a call from someone at Airtel Mumbai. He patiently asked me details regarding my location and told me that if I choose to book via the Internet, he can send someone to my place by the next day. He also added that if I make a cash payment, he can send someone on the very same day! I asked him about my package requirements and stuff and he promised me callback again.
Five minutes later, I receive a call again from him and now he adds that he can send someone to my place to install the new connection in under 2 hours since they have someone available 15 kilometers from my home. I said, “Ok”, and asked if he needed my address. He said no and hung up.
Ten minutes later I receive a call from a lady (with a localized accent) asking me my address details and adds that someone will be at my home within the next hour. A few minutes later, I receive yet another call from a guy who again asked me my address details and enquired if I am available at home right now because he would be reaching there in 10 minutes. I waited for him and he was at my door within 10 minutes. The time was 4:45. It had been just over an hour since I had tweeted my first tweet – and better, I hadn’t even made a single phone call!
By 5:30, they had installed the STB and the person who came to install us called his colleagues back at their office in Boisar (15 kms away) and asked them to activate my services immediately. He was persistent with the lady at the other end and asked me in detail what package I would prefer. He called back to his office no less than 4 times to remind them again and again that our existing TataSky box has been disconnected and that we are “without TV” and hence need the services to be started as soon as possible. In fact, he waited till 6 after which I told him to go home since it was OK if the services came on after a few hours. While going, he promised that the service would be up soon and by 7 PM we were watching TV as usual – but with more channels!
What I observed here was that there was absolute synergy between various departments within Airtel when they handled this. How the person handling the Twitter account communicated with the person who called me, how the second person contacted someone who could help me. The best was the guy who came in to my home to fix it. Apparently, he was told that I had booked this connection online and he seems to have been impressed by the fact that I didn’t even make a single phone call to get all this done.
That was the good part. Now, I wonder if DTH companies (or any company for that matter) will have the same synergy and “eagerness” to solve a problem should the customer face an issue. After all, my experience could not be constituted as “customer service” since I was for them a new customer which for any company is a prime target. The real deal begins now; as one of my friends tweeted out to me after I praised Airtel for their promptness. Will they deliver on this front too? I might as well find out in the months to come!