Aditi Singh, a media professional, got international roaming activated on her mobile service when she travelled abroad. When she got it deactivated on her return, her national roaming also got deactivated.
She only realised this a month later during an outstation trip, when she couldn’t get a network signal. She grumbled: “When I contacted my operator, I was told that this is an automatic process. Why couldn’t they tell me that when I deactivated my international roaming?”
According to a study — Transforming Experiences India, 2013 — by Ericsson ConsumerLab, only 50% of issues faced by mobile customers are reported to operators. Consumer ranking of 12 services including airlines, banking, e-commerce and fast foods saw the mobile operator ranked at 11.
The most time consuming mobile problems to resolve are billing discrepancies (56%), mobile data issues (48%) and network issues (37%). Poor customer support and network/mobile Internet performance finds 54% urban mobile consumers considering switching operators.
Kedar Sohoni, president, Informate Mobile Intelligence, said, “At a nearly 90 crore mobile subscriber base, the service levels are not bad. I’ve experienced four call drops an hour even in Indonesia.”
However, he added that no operator is complacent. “Competition is intense.”
Ajay Gupta, Ericsson India’s head of strategy and marketing, added, “In the mobile internet era, consumer experience will impact the uptake of broadband.”
A Vodafone spokesperson, while claiming at 87% frontline and 98% online complaint resolution, pointed out: “Increase in new devices with upgraded operating systems and customers changing devices every six months to a year is adding to the complexity. Customers also have a learning curve, during which there are more queries and concerns.
As for patchy 3G performance, while 2G has been evolving over 15 years, 3G is in continuous expansion since its 2011 launch. Besides, with inadequate spectrum, no operator has a pan-India 3G licence.”
Informate’s research shows that with the increasing use of mobile internet, while SMS usage has dropped from nine minutes daily in July 2011 to two minutes in July 2013, and voice calls are also dropping, mobile chats have grown from seven to 27 minutes daily.
“Going forward, like in developed markets, Indian operators too will offer more customised, transparent services,” Sohoni said.
It’s started. Airtel is offering its subscribers a customisable ‘My Plan’, with a choice on services they want. Vodafone is offering self service options including the Vodafone app and pull-based services.
Problems notwithstanding, consumers are swelling the mobile subscriber and 3G ranks, and looking forward to 4G. Ajit Pal, regional director South Asia, Givaudan, an aromatics multinational, said, “Till now, at my office we did not go for mobile 3G because of speed inefficiencies. But we are moving to iPhones and 3G soon.”