Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Compare Apples to Oranges - 4G in India

Airtel's whole big drama about 4G challenge:

4G is the buzz word which we are listening to everyday. Simply put, 4G is the shortened name for the fourth generation of the wireless data transmission networks set-up by the mobile phone industry in order to offer more bandwidth and greater speeds for everyday mobile device operations, such as messaging, video calling and mobile TV.

Recently I came across this advertisement of 4G challenge by Airtel “If your network is faster, we will pay your mobile bills for life”. First of all I was impressed with the impact, but then when the illusion wave swept away, I realized it’s just a marketing gimmick; which is great because this is the need of the hour, you do have to go out of your boundaries to showcase yourself. But does it have to be so unjust? What Airtel's challenge looks to me is all unfair and groundless.

 It feels like someone is saying my horse runs faster than your mule. This challenge seems unjustified since Airtel is the sole 4G operator in the country. They will obviously be able to provide much better speeds, since 4G is superior than 3G. 4G is usually claimed to be about 5 times faster than 3G. That's what Airtel is challenging on. Speeds will be very good initially because there are hardly any subscribers using 4G but as the load of subscribers increases the speeds will come down and prices too will shoot up gradually.

Even after putting their best foot forward, it feels like they have lost the battle and that too standing alone in the battlefield. All surfing through the net is bad reviews about Airtel. Approx 80% reviews are negative. Who so ever has tried Airtel 4G are not happy with the result. Their connectivity is low, speed is slow, the customer support is poor, the fraud ratio in billing is high, their network plays hide and seek most of the time.

Even if one rises up against all the odd and goes for the challenge; then also what? The only places where these challenges will take place will be their own choice location which obviously will have the best network availability. Unless someone like Akshay Kumar or Shahrukh Khan fighting against WWE Champion or a Sumo wrestler in the movies, it is impossible to win.

But at the same time, one should give credit where it’s due!  Airtel took the initiative to enter the 4G sphere first in India, their whole packaging idea, their confidence to put up such a big challenge, their new redesigned website dedicated to 4G. Airtel is also offering free 4G SIM to the aspirants and delivering it at customer’s doorstep.

Had they put up this challenge for their 3G network, then I would have loved to see the results. I hope Airtel lives up to this challenge even after other operators like Vodafone, Reliance Jio, Idea start providing 4G services…

By Kadambari Lama

Drone Delivery System

Delivery within minutes at your doorstep will become a reality in a few years. A lot of online stores are in the market promising the best delivery in minimum time; but is it really possible to get your fresh vegetables or a pair of shoes within a few minutes at your doorstep.

As we know in today’s tech savvy world, online shopping is on a boom and every online retailer is trying to provide the best of services to their customers. Some of the best in business are Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. World over, Amazon has always been one step ahead and it has now started working on the drone delivery system, called Amazon Prime Air. Amazon first unveiled the idea for its Prime Air service in a video ( released in December 2013. According to a leading English daily, sources aware of the development said Amazon will make India and not US as the launch-pad for its plan to deliver packages via drones or unmanned aerial vehicles. And it will start with a trial in Mumbai and Bangalore where the company has its warehouses. As per the report, the drone will carry payloads upto 2.26 kg which covers 86 percent of products sold on Amazon.

There is yet another rival for Amazon in this field and that is Google! Google has a similar concept of unmanned delivery system called Project Wing. It will enable people to get products delivered “in short order”, even in the most populated areas - according to Dave Vos, the project’s leader at a NASA - sponsored conference on drones on July 29. Project Wing first came to light in August 2014, when test flights of early prototypes were conducted in Australia.

In order to deploy these drones in the skies, drones not only need to communicate with people on the ground, but also with the other high-fliers be it another drone carrying packages or some drone taking aerial surveys or any other work as Vos said.  Also and without any intent to add humor, there are actual birds in the sky too!!!  Despite of all these technical and natural difficulties and even if these difficulties are overcome, there are still many other obstacles which needs to be figured out like the aviation regulations posed by the Governments. And if due to some reason (communication loss or technical mishaps) the drone crashes, possibly injuring people and/or property, the damages would not only cost a company in financial terms but could also possibly lead to the closure of whole project itself. So companies have to test these drones thoroughly before deploying in the market.

It is anybody’s guess as to whether Google, Amazon or maybe some other player in the market will emerge a winner in this exciting technological race. What is certain is that it will be a big challenge for any of them to shape this ambitious project into reality and get this futuristic delivery system deployed on the field. The numerous stringent laws regarding aviation rules across the world might be a reason why Amazon is starting this project in India as India lacks the more strident regulations on commercial drone usage prevalent elsewhere. Whatever be the reason, the outcome will be awaited with eagerness across the Indian retail market!

- By Anoop Bajpai

Customer Engagement Strategies that Businesses can’t Ignore in 2015

This is the age of the customer! Businesses have to reach out to customers rather than the other way round. It’s also the age of social networking; a single customer’s positive experience with a business can reach to hundreds of potential customers. So maintaining personal relationships with customers proves to be immensely beneficial for any business. This is where customer engagement comes in. It is the art of effectively connecting with customers and making them feel like they matter in ways that go beyond goods and services. It is about providing exceptional end-to-end customer experience, superior content and excellent after-sale service and support which goes way beyond than a traditional sale. So, businesses in this decade should emphasize more on value creation than on revenue extraction.

Following are some customer engagement strategies to improve brand loyalty and customer experience:-

1.  Increase presence on online channels and social media
Customer engagement is no longer a series of one-off experiences; it’s an ongoing dialogue. This dialogue can be achieved via social media. Businesses need to ensure that they are being talked about on online channels or social networking platforms. For this they should focus on developing a passionate online community. Social media presence is an absolute necessity for any business today. News about new products, versions, campaigns, offers, etc. spreads almost instantly on social channels which can bring about huge footfalls for a business.
2.   Humanize your brand
A customer would remain loyal, only if she can relate to the brand emotionally. This emotional touch can be brought in by understanding her needs and providing her a truly personal experience. It’s these kinds of emotions that shape their attitude towards a business and also influence their buying behavior. So, it is extremely necessary to give a voice to the brand. A group of people can be charged with the responsibility of promoting the brand. They could interact with customers on forums, write blogs, publish white-papers and present seminars to actively engage with their target audience.
3.   Stay customer-driven
Gone are the days of cold-calling when businesses used to approach random unknown people and advertise their products or services to them, today customers decide if and when to communicate. A business’s job is simply to provide them the tools for easy communication. These tools should be easily accessible and highly visible. They should also offer options for different types of communication, viz., do they have a question, do they want to post a rave review, are they facing any technical difficulty. Giving such control to the customers results in better understanding of their needs, which eventually leads to building a loyal customer base.
4.   Remain available 24x7
We are living in an “always-on” world driven by mobile experience. Mobile apps have made buying experience more convenient for the customers. Customers want availability in the palm of their hands and that too anytime and anywhere. So businesses need to engage and interact with their customers in the context of their daily lives through mobile environment. This not only ensures better, more immediate service but also boosts brand loyalty.
5.   Use great content to deliver value
Many businesses have started using content to educate customers about their products and also to help them understand market trends, best practices and ‘How-to’ guides. This greatly enhances the customer’s buying experience and increases customer retention. Businesses need to use quality content to educate customers not only about their products and services but also provide insights into working and analytics. This can be achieved via blog posts, email updates, newsletters, webinars, updates and posts on social platforms.  

- By Jaskirath Singh Makol