nareshovの日記

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Archive for the ‘Work Life’ Category

Customer Service in Bangalore

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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 <talktous@hdfcbank.com>."

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 talktous@hdfcbank.com 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.

Internet.

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.

Mobile.

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.

Conclude

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

Using Dnsmasq to serve from a central /etc/hosts

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Recently at $work, I came across a situation where: a. public DNS records are served off of a GoDaddy account and b. a couple of domain names needed a office network-wide override pointing it to IPs in the local network.

i.e.

dig +short @8.8.8.8 qa.example.com

<returns public IP>

dig +short qa.example.com

<returns private IP>

If there aren’t too many consumers for this name resolution, we could’ve done with putting in entries into /etc/hosts on each consumer host. But our consumer hosts included a lot of android phones. And we didn’t want to root them all to be able to modify their /etc/hosts.

If we were running our own DNS server in our DMZ, we could’ve configured the infamous split-DNS setup through BIND or tinydns. (Un)fortunately, we didn’t.

The first "workaround" to this was to maintain a duplicate zone for example.com on our local DNS server (the one served by our DHCP server) and override the records as required. This would soon start to suck.

A colleague of mine – who didn’t take my word that the above two methods are our only options available – persevered through the PowerDNS docs and found an option where it could serve off the host’s /etc/hosts file. Now what was brilliant about this was, adding a ‘192.168.1.223 qa.example.com’ into /etc/hosts effectively solved the problem we had!

We didn’t really needed a full-fledged DNS server like PowerDNS and I looked if dnsmasq could solve the same problem – and it does.

[root@blr-vbox1 ~]# egrep -v ‘^#|^\B+’ /etc/dnsmasq.conf
bogus-priv
resolv-file=/etc/resolv.conf.isp
interface=eth0
no-dhcp-interface=eth0
no-dhcp-interface=lo0
conf-dir=/etc/dnsmasq.d

Our ISP’s DNS servers go into /etc/resolv.conf.isp

Ensure that the host that’s running dnsmasq has only ‘nameserver 127.0.0.1’ in /etc/resolv.conf and put in all your entries to be served into /etc/hosts.

Written by Naresh

December 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Posted in LAN, Work Life

My first day to work in a bike

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Public transport that is fast, reliable is still a far-sighted goal in these parts of the world. The local government has probably lost its chance to increase the number of buses or other forms of public transport because if they do it now, there’s simply not enough road space for them anymore. There are as many cars these days as there were two wheelers in the 90s. But, no, the road space hasn’t increased.

Ever since I got back to B’lore last November, I’ve been commuting to work on a car. It’s a 2006-07 Hyundai Getz and still works quite well. What makes it an unpleasant and at times depressing ride is when one is stuck inside it in B’lore peak hour traffic. One can’t hit the second gear for an hour or more. So much wasted time sitting idle on a seat waiting on slow minds – who don’t realise how traffic rules are meant to help them be efficient on the road – to make way. Oh, but the rules themselves are harebrained in certain scenarios: for instance, traffic lights in a junction that turn green in a round-robin fashion with equal time intervals for all roads on that junction.

Last week I acquired a Trek 7.1 FX. It’s a hybrid that’s supposed to roll well on city roads. I took it out for a test spin to work on Saturday to test the waters: to see if the goal of riding nearly 12 kilometers is doable at all without sweating too much. Turns out that it’s possible.

Two years ago, at around the same time, I had acquired a Hercules ACT104. It’s supposed to be an MTB. But I didn’t know at that time that good MTBs don’t come that cheap at all. That cycle was a deadweight to ride with. The weekend before last, I had taken the ACT104 out in an attempt to see if I could ride all the way to office. I had to give up at one-third the distance. It was too heavy or just didn’t roll well. Previously at college, I was a proud owner of a BSA Mach III. I could literally glide on it at times. All this made me start looking at cycles with narrower tires.

My ride to work is nearly 11 kilometers and the ride back is almost 18 kilometers (I ride to NGV/Koramangala and then toward home). I’m not sure how tired I am as I write this, but being just the first day, I’m looking forward to improvements.

P.S. The Trek cost me my 6 month petrol bill (assuming the petrol price doesn’t increase in the next 6 months)

P.P.S. The Nissan Leaf isn’t available here. The Prius is twice the amount it costs in the US.

UPDATE on 22nd:

Some of you might be looking for details such as:

  1. I wear a dry-fit jersey while I ride and carry a casual t-shirt (which I change into while at office) in my backpack along with my laptop. I don’t sweat as much thanks to the awesome weather of BLR and I don’t have a shower at work. (Among the metros in India, I believe only BLR has this weather advantage.)
  2. The time to commute on bike almost equals that of the car. Varies a bit now and then depending on the traffic. At least with a bike one can pull it off onto the footpath and walk it up until there’s road to ride.
  3. I park the bike at the basement at work. I use a coil-like lock and lock it to something.
  4. Being the second day now, I think goggles for eye protection and a decent pollution mask are necessary.

Written by Naresh

November 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm