Sunday Talk: Telecom Operators’ Evolution from Customer Care Calls to Self-Care Apps

By September 16th, 2018 AT 10:35 AM

Approximately half a decade ago, and even right before the entry of Reliance Jio into the market, the telecom industry used to be very different from what it is today. Having watched the sector in front of us, with its ups and down from these many years, we have noticed the on-going trends, updates and the latest technological advances which the telcos have adopted to stay ahead of their time. Before the era of content and applications, the telecom operators used to rely on obsolete call centre based services for availing official information to the consumers, answering their queries or resolving grievances. However, the arrival of smartphones and the mass usage of platforms like Android and iOS has completely changed the scenario.

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Lack of Reliability and Transparency in Customer Care

Almost, all the telecom operators like BSNL, Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India had their dedicated call centre numbers which the users had to dial in case they wanted to port their SIM, register a complaint or if they had a query. Another option to was to locate the particular authorised store of the telecom carrier and to visit them to get your work done. Despite massive penetration of the internet, there was no sure-shot and reliable way for the users to carry out their desired task related to their SIM card or telecom operator. On top of that, the customer care staff inside the offices had internal issues like lack of transparency and reliability. There were always incidents where the grievances had to be left unresolved, and the customer had to hang up the call in disappointment.

The coming of dedicated applications for each telecom carrier has changed the scenario entirely. With Idea Cellular, Vodafone India, Reliance Jio and BSNL offering their applications on the Android Google Play Store and iOS’ app store we can definitely admit that there has been a significant change in how the general public carries out SIM related tasks. Whether it’s paying bills, doing recharge, activating or deactivating the services, keeping track of your data usage, or availing latest offers these applications have come to encompass almost all of the facilities that a user might need on the tip of their hands. Unlike yesteryears, we see a new trend where the users no longer rely on phone calls or customer care lines to get their query resolved. Instead, all of this is done through the respective applications being provided by the telcos. Below we have listed in brief all the major telcos and their app descriptions and how this evolution has impacted the industry.

Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio and BSNL Apps

Bharti Airtel offers its My Airtel-Online Recharge, Pay Bills, Wallet & UPI application on the Google Play store which allows Airtel SIM users to pay postpaid bills, recharge their prepaid account, carry out UPI transactions, access Airtel Payments Bank account and recharge their DTH subscription or pay bills for the same. Airtel also facilitates broadband bill payment through this application. Additionally, users of the app get access to latest offers and deals, and the app allows easy activation or deactivation of international roaming services.

Next up, Reliance Jio offers its MyJio app which Jio SIM holders can log into easily. After logging in, users can check their daily data usage, information about their plans and vouchers, new offers and deals. Also, users can recharge their numbers with a plan of their choice. There is also an inbuilt Jio voice assistant in the application. Apart from this, Jio has also facilitated the new Jio GigaFiber registrations through this application only.

Idea Cellular offers its My Idea-Recharge and Payments app on the Google Play Store which offers similar functionalities as the above two mentioned apps. Using the app, Idea Cellular users can recharge their account and buy value-added services. Apart from that Idea Cellular users get access to add-on services like a free collection of magazines and others which the company avails as part of free offerings in their plans.

The My BSNL App present on the Google Play Store also offers similar services like postpaid bill enquiry, postpaid bill payment, prepaid recharges. In addition to all this, the application also provides International Wi-Fi service for 44,000 locations across the world.

The My Vodafone application offers features which are on the same lines as the above applications. Vodafone subscribers can check their data usage, validity, roaming packs and they are also allowed to make payments on the application as well. Apart from that, the users can find their nearest Vodafone store using the My Vodafone app.

As we mentioned above, every major telecom operator in India has launched their application using which users can conduct entire range of operations, and they wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of calling a customer care number or visiting the store. The smartphone penetration, data penetration and the lower cost of operations have all contributed towards this shift, and we undoubtedly believe that this new paradigm presents much more streamlined procedures and choices for the customers. However, we would also like to assert that even though the application provides a solution for almost every need that might arise, the personalised and customised grievance resolution which used to happen on the customer care lines is something which these applications miss out. Still, it is safe to say that in the era of smartphones and content, we feel that telcos have been pragmatic about their decision to migrate these services over to applications rather than relying on old patterns. In future, as the emphasis on content grows, we hope that the quality of these apps and the features that they offer will drastically go through a scaling.

Don’t forget to tell us in the comments below about which application among the above-listed ones is the best in this category. Also, add your thoughts about what can be the possible future for these applications?

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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