Good Customer Support does not necessarily mean your problem is solved

Arrived at Bangalore Airport yesterday and I went to the Vodafone store in the Airport and got a Prepaid SIM card. INR.1200 per SIM card; one for me and one for my Wife. so INR.2400 Net. It takes 2 hours to activate. I have done this before in Kochi Airport in January this year. So should be a breeze

My Wife’s SIM gets activated soon and I keep waiting. I phone the person in the shop who issued me the SIM, but he was not available and so we had to walk into a Vodafone shop to inquire the next day.

The support folks were very helpful, but they could not do much as the SIM was issued in another store. Anyway they contacted the person who issued me the SIM and by the time I am home I get a call on my Wife’s phone.

The Representative said that they did not send my application out as he had fever and they will do it soon and also apologized. But then they call up and say they can’t issue me a prepaid SIM card…. Bummer!!!!

The reason; I don’t have an India govt. issued ID with an Indian address in it. And they cannot give a prepaid card with my valid Indian passport; because it has only my US address. As an Indian Citizen living in permanently in US, I had renewed my Indian Passport in San Francisco and so has my address in US as I have my GC there… 🤔 But they mentioned that they will refund the INR.1200 I gave them. I think it is a genuine case that they cannot issue it to me.

But my challenge is that since I have lived in US for over 18 years, I don’t have the usual docs like license and so on. Moreover since I am now in Bangalore and not in Calicut I (my hometown), I don’t have any other Indian issued document that I can dig into other than my passport. But my wife got her sim all activated on time as she is a Canadian citizen and has an OCI. Since she is a Canadian citizen, unlike me I guess she does not need an Indian address for any validation and proof 🙂

But the interesting thing is I did not face this problem when I took Airtel/Idea from Kochi Airport in January. Not sure if they overlooked the rules back then and helped me or Vodafone has missed this use case in their training manual. Anyway will go to an Airtel/Idea shop tomorrow and see what the rule really is.

I have my old Passport and that has my old Indian address and that expired passport number is mentioned in my new passport. So if you really want to check, it can be seen as a logical proof. Not sure if it works that way.

Now someone can say that the address in an expired document is also invalid. But that could also happen in other cases where you change your address after you get the Passport. Logically it should work, but may be it is not really clear logic but a rule that is set so it is easy to do things for the majority of cases. And it might be true that all companies might not have a plan to address edge use cases like mine.

My use case might not be common, but anyone who is living outside for so many years on a Permanent residency and have not relinquished their Indian Citizenship could face a similar issue.. right? I mean if they have their foreign address in their renewed passport. I personally know a few of my friends who have lived in US for well over 20 or more years and still are an Indian Citizens and just have their Green card. Not sure if they travel to India always with an Indian Government Issued ID that has an Indian Address.

Anyway, the question arises as to what should be the address in the back of an Indian Passport. I found this Quora Thread. Looks like many people have a question as what should be the address in a passport when you renew it outside India.

That said I must say I am very happy with the way the customer support people connected and patiently heard and were eager to help. Let us see how it all goes with Airtel and Idea.

But after coming home and writing this, and as I was reflecting on the way my interaction went, I feel I did show my irritation a few times and voiced my discomfort for everything being so tough, which I think is totally unwanted on my part. But even with that the Vodafone support person came out pleasant and helpful.

Did your problem get solved is not always the benchmark for Good Customer Support, but how the support guy made you feel while they were trying to address your problem.

And I have to do some serious thinking on my end; to not be so high on expectation or demanding like I am entitled to stuff. There are rules and my use case could be an edge case. And that is why I thought I should write this because it is important for us all to highlight incidents and instances where the support was good even without our problem being solved.

The world will be better if we can highlight the good view even in what is not all that comfortable for you.

Categories: Personal

Tags: , , ,

1 reply

  1. Dear Vinod.

    Quite a refreshing read and I beg to explain in detail what impact this had while I was dusting myself off from yet another fruitless customer service phone call…trying in vain to fix an itsy bitsy issue with my existing cell phone connection a few minutes back…all the while reading your blog which was a trail off from your interview with Mr. Tharoor on FB 🙂

    I never believed in tornadoes as there are no much butterflies in this garden city, but your writings did have its little sweet effect! Thank you!

    A few days back I mentioned to my friend about how customer service is being perceived in general in India. It’s sad to see how this division is being converted to a thankless job with absolutely no power vested within them…let alone the best that there’s one thing they could always do for me – to wave off a 100 Re discount if you yell at them! As years have passed the quality of service has gone down a spiraling drain ( which makes me say ” kudos Vinod…you perhaps might have had a good agent who tried helping you”).

    Customer service ( to me) is an extension of User Experience itself!
    Its the only place where mass grievances and ‘handyman fix requests’ arrive.
    Its the only place that gives you a first-hand experience on what your customers think about your product/service.
    Then why are you not training and empowering them?
    To serve better…they need to understand the issues they are facing and for that, they need to hear out from their customers…and for that (sigh!) they need to invest in this new division – ‘User Experience Executives’ ( not just in ‘Naam’ but also ‘kaam’)

    I tried explaining this to my dear friend who is an accomplished UX designer himself and he smiled ( at first I thought the bird liked the rain) but in truth, he was spreading his exotic fan of resilience against a new thought and it had its splendid display of territorial defense which I’m very used to as a designer myself
    I’m a designer who doesn’t believe in territories! I skip, hop and jump over them).

    Long story short ( and apologies for the segway), I enjoyed reading your article.
    Long story long, my friend still predicts the ‘next’ best practices for UX in the future and his invitations ( to me) has its own obvious conniving intent I’m pretty sure he has plans to have me on a spit!

    “There are wine and cheese”, he says.
    “I prefer my whiskey with beef dry fry”, I say!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: