The moment I hear of Loyalty programs at any of the stores from any of the so-called big business houses, I indulge myself in a moment of cynicism. The core of the matter here is that very few or practically none of the businesses we know in India have customer centricity in focus.Loyalty programs are a logical extension of great customer experience. Trying to buy loyalty without a good customer experience….or dare I say sometimes a rotten experience is bound to boomerang and have a counter effect. It leaves such a bad taste in the mouth that a person is cynical on being talked to about the benefits of Loyalty programs for the brand. The thought going through the mind is that – “Guys, first get your basic act together and deliver what your product/service promises and then move on to trying something else!”
I had a weird experience a couple of months back with Tata Broadband. I had been using their services for 6-8 months when I suddenly faced a problem in connectivity. I called up customer care to be told that I do not exist as a customer. After repeated calls and on providing bill nos. for the past so many months, I was still told by customer care that even though they understood my problem, they could not help as I do not exist as a customer in their database and they could not even register my complaint as such. I repeated my customer id no. for the nth time to the nth customer care executive and told them to check out their portal where I could log in using my id. I was told that theirs is an outsourced agency and they can only work on data they are provided with. Turned down yet again! I tried this for 4 days repeatedly for a couple of hours, lost productive hours crying myself hoarse and crying in front of anyone who would care to listen. My colleagues finally got bored and told me to change my provider which I agreed to and decided that I will get this done asap!. Well, the ordeal ended when I just resigned myself to the absurdity of the situation……….. Cut to 3 months later, some arbitrary Tata Broadband collection agency started hounding me stating that 600 Rs. Of post paid money was due to them ( I had subscribed to Pre-paid…I said so and was told that the system says post paid). I promptly released my frustrations and gave vent to my feelings …ending up with a firm resolve that I would not stand this and will not pay even a single new paisa. Well, …..the hounding continued for the next 5 months….and finally I paid up the 600 Rs. And today I am a free bird. It will take me some time to get the courage to approach another broadband operator! So much for the Tata brand name…..So every time I walk into any of the Tata stores in any of their diverse businesses and am offered a Loyalty card, I laugh to myself…Actually I am sh*t scared!!!
Let me recount another experience which happened a couple of days earlier with Axis Bank Credit card division. With the new ruling for a Chip and Pin card by RBI becoming mandatory, Axis Bank decided to send me a brand new replacement card. (I have a Platinum card and a lot of my monthly payments are linked to it) What they forgot to do was send the PIN by courier. (though I did receive an SMS that the PIN had been delivered to me… J) I tried getting across to the relevant persons but in vain, till the day arrived when without using PIN, the card would not work (48 hrs to go). I called up customer care and learned that I have been crying unneccesarily! Axis Bank has a wonderful IVR system that makes the entire process smooth and I could even generate my credit card PIN there and then. Great I thought, we are really making progress now……. But it was not to be. What I encountered was another horrendous customer experience!!
(To be continued….)
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