(Special to MadMan’s Web)
Bharti Airtel Ltd., which had already declared its vision as “By 2015 airtel will be the most loved brand, enriching the lives of millions”, today announced an accelerated plan to fulfill that vision in 2013 by launching two new levels of technical support plans for its customers.
Launching the new Gold and Platinum support plans at a press conference today, Sunil Mittal, Chairman, said it was based on extensive analysis of customer feedback over the last year, and aimed at fixing many of the existing complaints.
Customers who opt for the new Gold Plan at an extra Rs. 99 per month (+taxes), can avail of features like:
1) Chances of speaking to a real human within 2 minutes increased from 7% to 50% – Mittal said that Gold customers will face shorter hold times. The previous average time on hold of 10 minutes will be reduced by over 50% and there will now be a 50% chance of speaking to a human in 2 minutes.
2) Exuberant female voice on IVR to be replaced by a normal-sounding person – Mittal discussed the findings of their research showing that customers couldn’t readily identify with a female voice that sounded like a 10 year-old getting a new puppy as a birthday gift when announcing words like “Welcome to Airtel!” The new Gold plan will use a more normal sounding 28 year-old woman instead.
3) Access to special Twitter account and web site status page – A major demand from customers was a status update page on both the Airtel twitter account that informs customers about problems and outages when they actually happen, instead of the earlier operating procedure where customers would be told things “We experienced an outage two days ago for three hours, and it’s fixed now” on Twitter. The new Twitter account, accessible only to Gold and Platinum customers, will provide real-time status updates to help them plan their work day better around service outages.
The new high-priority Platinum Plan, at an extra Rs. 299 per month (+taxes), has all the features of the Gold Plan, plus even more features for Airtel’s most demanding customers. Some of these are:
1) Chances of speaking to a real human being within 2 minutes increased from 7% to 70% – A 10x fold jump in responsiveness, this plan is designed for those customers who absolutely, positively, need to speak to a tech support representative on the phone and are not content with longer wait times.
2) Airtel jingle on loop replaced – Responding to increased incidents of customer phones being damaged by being flung against the wall, Bharti Airtel commissioned independent research into the matter and found out it was caused by irate customers who were listening to the Airtel jingle on loop while being put on hold. Airtel has swiftly taken action. Mittal said, “We will replace the Airtel jingle with bhajans, prayers from the Quran, or Christian psalms instead, keeping in mind the spiritual side of India.” Mittal was confident this would reduce complaints, “…because you can’t swear at God.”
3) Upgraded Twitter responses – Platinum customers, being the cream of the crop, will no longer get replies from the current Twitter and Facebook bot that responds to all complaints with “Would request you to please mail us at [email protected]” “Instead, a responsive team of real people from Airtel and not an outsourced PR company will now handle their problems and escalate them to the right channels”, said a smiling Mittal, as the crowd burst into spontaneous applause, and geeks attending the conference immediately started tweeting about this.
Mittal concluded by saying that he realized that not everyone would be the right target for these value-added plans that required customers to pay an extra monthly fee. So, in true Steve Jobs style, he saved a final interesting bit.
Mittal announced the launch of the new “Fuck this, I just want to speak to a human being” option for telephone support. At an extra cost of Rs. 29 per incident, all customers can now press 9 to bypass the numerous options and be connected to a live human being who would be able to help them. The reduced time on hold once connected, however, would only be available to Gold and Platinum customers.
“We have something new for all our customers, depending on their needs and priorities”, said Mittal. “This is what makes us the telecom giant that we are, and in the coming years we will continue to pursue this vision, delivering value to both our customers and shareholders.”
(For the humour-impaired, this post is satire, not news. If you’re a Bharti Airtel lawyer, and hence humour-impaired by definition, satire is protected against defamation claims in court.)