Customer support for any service in India sucks. Big time. I am sure there are some exceptions, but most of the major players who run businesses there have the most crappy customer support. I know a lot of American companies use Indian companies for their call center – but I think it’s not all that good as it may sound. If you think, you calling Dell customer support sucked big time because some guy “Ray” (who probably is Raghav in real life) didn’t answer all your questions, try calling a Indian business customer service.
I think I know the reason why too. India is the only nation with more number of people under 25 yrs old. There are as many people under 25 in India as there are in US – the whole population. This means a lot of cheap labor. The kind of people you come across in customer support are the fresh graduates who are out of school and are willing to work for Rs.3000/month. They are good at reading out the instructions but that’s hardly any customer support!
I had 2 bad customer support issues while I was in India last month. I wanted to buy a 3G-to-WiFi dongle from Vodafone (a major cell service provider in India, which also owns 45% of Verizon here). I called customer support and this is how it pretty much went–
Me: Hi, I would like to know more about your MiFi device.
CS: Huh? Sir, please tell me your vodafone number.
Me: I don’t have any vodafone number, I am calling in to find out more details about your product.
CS: (Silence. This probably isn’t listed in their script. Now the person is on their own and I had an inkling that this is not going to end well)
CS: Sir, if you don’t have a vodafone number, why call no??
Me: I want to find out more details abou the MiFi device.
CS: Let me check with my manager sir.
….I wait for some time.
CS: Sir, thank you for holding. Please go to a nearby vodafone store for details.
Me: Huh? Why can’t you tell me over the phone? I just need to know the price and other details.
CS: We don’t have any details about it, you will walk to the nearest vodafone store.
Me: Hmm. That’s weird, you are the customer support for your company. Anyhow, ok can you tell me the nearest store address?
CS: Tell me your address.
(I told them my address)
CS: Sir, the nearest store address is – so and so…
Me: Can you tell me the store’s phone number, so that I can call in and check if the device is available.
CS: Sir, it is our policy not to store any phone numbers of our stores!
Me: You are kidding me. You literally meant for me to walk to the store!
CS: Yes, sir.
Me: That’s crazy, you don’t have any information about YOUR OWN product. And you don’t have the contact number for the store which MIGHT sell YOUR product.
CS: Yes, Sir.
Me: Pulling my hair (or in my case, scratching my head). I don’t believe this.
CS: Thank you for calling Vodafone.
That’s how it ended. I never got that MiFi device, because the site for vodafone was advertising it but it wasn’t being sold at all!
There was another crappy incident of how IndiGo airlines stole my camera but it’s another post.
I believe that the reason why these Indian companies can afford to have such a crappy customer support is because of such a huge population, if they lose 10 customers, they gain 10 new customers. So, they don’t have to try hard to keep the existing ones or try get new ones. There are very few operators at that level and because they don’t have the draconian 2 year contracts like US does, people always switch phone companies. It’s very normal and the customer support isn’t there to help the customer, but to just lodge complaints and do nothing about it.
This is the sad state of customer support in India. It’s prevalent everywhere, and there is nothing you can do about it. I sometimes wonder, what would happen if someone starts a customer support service firm who can help customers like Zappos does here – I wonder if that will ever give edge to companies there?