(TL note: nareshov's diary)

Customer Service in Bangalore

with 8 comments

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing customer service first-hand as a customer over the past year with multiple service providers — consumer banking, internet, mobile, and online/offline retail. In this post, I’ll describe my experiences and point some fingers.

Consumer banking.

Back in early 2011, ICICI’s netbanking barely worked during the day. One had to use it early morning or late at night. It’s come a long way now and the customer service has been quite satisfactory.

Since late 2011, I’ve had to deal with HDFC bank. Enabling a taken-for-granted service such as paying bills through its netbanking portal requires one to submit applications manually. Netbanking (third-party transfer, specifically) didn’t work for me on a couple of occasions and when I vented out on twitter (that’s normal right?) somebody from HDFC spotted that and got in touch from me.

That was a pleasant surprise. It appears there’s a dedicated department that proactively scours the internet and tries to mend the damage caused (if any) called "HDFC-talktous <>."

The second point of comparison is the over-the-phone customer service. While ICICI can be annoying with their long-winded IVR process, HDFC bank gets you in touch with a real person quite quickly. But the quality differs (that’s probably a tradeoff: automate and use few good people or don’t automate and use a lot of not-so-good people; perhaps different target audiences too). Couple of the HDFC folks I spoke to over the phone had trouble comprehending and were just too quick to a "I understand, sir." Fortunately, the folk are quite open to listening to you.

While on phone with the customer service, it takes a couple of hops with ICICI to reach a person who knows his stuff (example: 4-digit CVV codes of Amex vs. 3-digit Mastercard/VISA) whereas in the case of HDFC, the hop hasn’t happened the first time and always through the talktous@ folks.


I’ve posted about this extensively in the past. To quickly summarise, Airtel has been a disappointment. Reliance has turned out to be quite reliable — in fact, so reliable that I haven’t had to call their customer service up since I got a connection from them back in September.


I’ve been with Vodafone for nearly 8 years now. They’re the ones who used a dog in their TV adverts while every other mobile service provider used some movie actor or a sports champ. Their ads were simple, modest, and most of all, not annoying.

After procuring an iPhone 4S, I had to get a micro-SIM. Walked into a Vodafone outlet at Koramangala on a Saturday evening. Got a queue-token from the token vending machine, gave a 5-second description of what I wanted, got a light-looking, large-fonted form with limited fields to enter details into that I managed to fill in under 20-seconds, went over to the other counter and got a micro-SIM right there (for free), submitted the stamped form back to the person who gave me the form and was told that my number would move onto the new in an hour’s time. And it did.

A friend’s friend had experienced weird issues with the 4S and other service providers’ networks, my experience with Vodafone’s so far has been smooth. (Too bad they tie up with Airtel for 3G in B’lore, but that’s another story.)

My respect for Vodafone has only increased with time.

Online retail.

Flipkart has been a growing name over the past few years and I’ve made several purchases. I’ve had no complains except for one case where the steam iron had a scratch on the ironing surface. Wasn’t so bad that it had to be replaced but I expected at least a QC pass. There are multiple online retailers cropping up now. Naturally, in the sea of mediocrity and poor service, I expect only the best to survive (is that too obvious?)

Offline retail.

Some of the household names such a BigBazaar when they first arrived stocked up all sorts of stuff. With time, the range has definitely come down. There are newer brands of supermarkets that crop up here and there, they all face a similar challenge. I don’t have much to say here.

Shoppers’ Stop provides these cards where whatever you shop – regardless of the branch – gets accounted into a central database. To relate an experience, I purchased a trackpant at the Koramangala branch, noticed a stitch-issue couple of days later, took it to the Bannerghatta road branch and produced my card so they could confirm that this was bought by me (I wasn’t carrying the bill with me) and got it mended there for no additional cost. Experiences like these are pleasant (and a new thing) to many in these parts of the world.


Back at college, the prof. who spoke about competition in the organisational psychology class was right about many things. What we have here is a large population where providing good services makes it profitable only when there are multiple competitors. Had there been just One Internet Service Provider or One Big Bazaar this definitely wouldn’t have been the case.

Written by Naresh

February 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

8 Responses

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  1. i noticed you have an iPhone. you are going to hell.
    btw flipkart is awesome. i bought a book at a throwaway price. i’ll definitely buy more from flipkart.


    February 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    • Seriously! Iphone! Whats wrong with you?


      February 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

      • @basyt and @rohitj:
        I’ve played with a lot of android phones (at work: mobile gaming) here and have owned a motorola defy.

        I find the iPhone to just work (and feels completely unlike running some linux distro on the phone).

        The GPS is _quick_, the camera and graphics (twice as powerful as the S-II’s) are awesome, and the UI is familiar (been using OSX since late August ’11).

        What I want from my smartphone are quick GPS/maps, decent browsing, graphics for a few games, UI experience that just works and doesn’t suck, and a good camera which I can use when I’m off cycling in scenic places. What I don’t want is yet another device to administer as if it were a linux system.


        February 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

        • Dude! I think your experience is biased, IMO. And I know this because of following reason. I have a friend who doesn’t know what “Windows” is. She just knows that she has a computer (which runs Windows, but she doesnt know). She used iphone for many years and recently switched to Galaxy. She finds it much better. I believe she did complain about galaxy’s camera (in comparison to iphone), but its not “bad”. I believe if someone who has no idea what OS means can use Android, then one does not have feel that they need to administer the device. As far as speed is concerned, I don’t know if it has something to do with country, but I don’t think Android phones are bad at all.
          As far as UI is concerned, I don’t see why one would consider Android to be bad in any sense. (I am talking about Android 2.2+ ). I have been using Atrix and Galaxy recently, and I have no complains. I have used Ipod Touch and since its UI is very similar to iphone, I can say that Android’s UI has no defects. I can not tell if I am running Linux when I use Android. Of course, if you are suffering from the disease “Root it if you can, mess with internals if you can”, then I don’t know. My android is not rooted and I have no intensions of doing anything geeky to it.


          February 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

  2. holy mother of fuck have you also bought a mbp? your soul cant be saved now. i hope you run linux on it. that is the only way for you to survive. and install android on your iphone.


    February 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    • lol. when your dayjob involves administering linux systems, you don’t want (or have time) to administer them on your personal devices too.


      February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      • that is a good explanation for having a satanic device


        February 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

  3. I like (and agree with) the conclusion.


    February 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

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