For telecom service providers, customer care has become key to retain customers and attracting new ones. After calling the customer care number and speaking to a customer care executive, an automated message is often sent to the caller's phone, inquiring about the service quality, to which the caller can respond with a toll free text message. Such is the importance of customer care in India.
However, the customer care race will get even more heated in India with operators, such as Airtel, Vodafone and Aircel charging 50 paisa per 3 minutes for calling customer care for queries and requests in India. However, calls made to customer care regarding complaints are still free. The telecom regulator TRAI is in loop regarding this decision of the telecom companies.
Airtel has issued two numbers 198 and 121. 198 is only for registering of complaints and is free. The executive at this number will not answer any query for which the subscriber will need to call at 121.
Whenever a subscriber speaks to the customer care executive at 121 he or she will be charged 50 paise per minute. The telecom companies believe that this step will lessen calls burden on them and reduce their cost to service the customer.
Taking customer care to a new level and eliminating the need for calls, Reliance Communications has announced the launch of its latest customer care initiative-Live Chat. This Live Chat service, which has been introduced for the first time in India, will enable Reliance's mobile subscribers with real-time query and issue handling through chat-based online platform.
In the first phase of the launch Live Chat will be available to Reliance's over 1.3 million data customers across the country. Following the implementation of the service across the data business, RCom plans to extend the service to other business groups. Initially service will go live in 15,000 towns and the plan is to cover 24,000 towns by end of first quarter of FY 2010. RCom has established the Live Chat Contact Center at the company's headquarters in Mumbai. This facility will have over 500 dedicated workforce equipped to handle 75,000 live customer interactions in a day.
In the US, Verizon offers customer service to its customers through a live chat too. The live chat has been met with tremendous success in the country, where the telecom service provider has been ranked number one in the JD Power and Associates semiannual survey. Although the survey was conducted on the basis of how well the carriers service served their customers through telephone calls with a live customer service representative or an automated response system, as well as in visits to a retail wireless store or via the Web, Verizon attributed the live chat system greatly for their success.
Service providers of all types are investing heavily in this customer experience. A recent survey, conducted by Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by Amdocs, found that two-thirds of service providers responding expected to increase their spending on customer service enhancements next year. At the same time, cost control initiatives are driving service providers to create more self-care options to eliminate costly labor wherever possible. One area of intense competition for AT&T and Verizon in recent months has been in adding features to the self-care portals they have created for their valuable business customers.