Recently we wrote about how BSNL is into huge losses and also analyzed how BSNL could make use of its core strengths to turn profitable again (Read BSNL Continues to Report losses, What Should be Next? Our Analysis). The post received tremendous response from our readers, including BSNL Staff who were in agreement with our observations. In less than a month after the article went live we have been hearing about BSNL taking improvement measures on an aggressive note. Some of the measures were supposedly initiated before we voiced our opinions, but it appears that things have gained pace after that.
Progress so Far
- Bringing down the mounting dues - As of December 31, 2012 (not 2013) BSNL and MTNL had total outstanding arrears of Rs. 6251 crore from customers. We have learnt that BSNL has started pursuing these dues in some south circles by way of emails, calls and SMSes to defaulters. Customers who had opted for disconnection but left bills unpaid are being asked to pay up after a gap of over six months. While this is certainly welcome and is necessary, BSNL must understand that in today's India where people keep shifting or even moving out of the country, the matter must be pursued in a shorter time - definitely not after six months. While the emails talk about enforcing revenue recovery act, it will cost more in terms of time and money for BSNL than the amount to be recovered when customers have moved (Imagine customers having dues less than Rs. 1000).
- Activation of STVs by SMS - We had noted that only Karnataka and Kerala circles were allowing all STV activations by SMS but not other circles like AP and Maharashtra. This has changed now with those circles allowing the activations by SMS. AP BSNL has also notified the SMS to be sent on their website. This feature while providing the convenience, also helps customers save money as service tax won't be levied.
- Is BSNL testing the waters for social media - While we all know that BSNL had accounts on social media sites, of late we are seeing some activity there! Even circle specific handles have started showing up. From the posts (read tweets) there, it appears that they will be fully active very soon. Again front runners are Kerala, Karnataka and surprisingly North East circles. On twitter they are present as @BSNLKERALA, @bsnl_karnataka and @BSNLNE1 respectively. While Kerala account has answered few customer concerns, Karnataka and North East circles have tweeted about their offerings. Undoubtedly if done right, social media will create happy customers for BSNL. They just need to take care to see that issues are resolved on time. We somehow feel that a twitter 'Verified' national level customer support handle offering round-the-clock support would be better than circle specific handles. This would be a big brand boost to BSNL and the followers will not be scattered/divided across smaller ones! We suspect if circle based handles can remain active 24 hours, they can but effectiveness is what matters.
- Linemen to be made more accountable - In the age where there is absolutely no need to visit BSNL offices to pay bills or avail new services, linemen are the only connecting link between BSNL and landline (predominantly wired broadband) customers. Though they happen to be the face of BSNL, they often prove to be a hurdle for better services. When linemen don't address complaints on time, BSNL loses customers! Fortunately, BSNL seems to have discovered this and from now on once complaints are booked by customers, an SMS would be sent to concerned lineman. If the complaint remains unresolved within the stipulated time, SMS would be automatically sent to next higher official and so on. This would bring in more accountability and can reduce customer woes.
- White label ATMs - BSNL would be allowing private players (not banks) to set up ATMs in office premises. As we noted in our earlier post, BSNL has spacious properties in prime city locations.
BSNL recently received three awards in office building category from Ministry of Power, Govt. of India for energy conservation. First, Second and a Certificate of Merit were won by Boatjetty (Ernakulam, Kerala), Khammam (AP) and Karnal (Haryana) respectively. BSNL has been bestowed this honour seven times at 'National' level and 13 times at 'State' level since 2008. This should certainly serve as encouragement for other BSNL offices and if they work towards conserving energy, BSNL can certainly save a considerable sum of money. In other news, with cabinet clearing 4G spectrum return refund, BSNL and MTNL would receive over Rs. 11000 crore from the Government. This would offer large relief for these cash starved companies.
So do we consider all this as Telecomtalk impact? We would say may be to some extent! Any company would have their own revival measures and think tank for the same, and if we made an impact on them that will make us proud. Still, it must be remembered that BSNL has a long way to go. The losses are not a small number. What say readers?