Friday, March 23, 2012

Unfair Business Practices of Indian Service Provider Companies !

In this blog I want to high light some of the unfair business practices adopted by some of the Indian companies especially doing business in the service sector directly dealing with individual customers. I would also like to highlight some of the business models which are adopted by some companies in a reasonably acceptable manner on which the customers should not have any complaints.

The kind of companies I want to discuss here are those with whom I have interacted in some business as a customer and where I have found certain kind of unfair dealings as being carried out by them. They belong to these services:

1. Banking Service

2. Life Insurance

3. General Insurance

4. Health Insurance

5. Telecom Service

In the banking service sector the banks have now extensively gone in for Internet enabled services. A good majority of the individual customers need not go to the bank for day to day transactions involving money. This is in fact a very good progress from the earlier days. Individual savings bank customers, from whom the banks get their money for doing their other financial operations, are also at ease as they are not to spare time to visit the bank branches. They are more and more getting accustomed to this convenience.

But here comes the annoying factor. For certain mundane things the banks do not have a system wherein the customer is exempted from visiting the bank. They are yet to incorporate a practice of customer interacting or communicating with them through a secured e-mail. Some banks have introduced communications to the customers when the customers log in. But a logged in customer cannot interact with the bank authorities of some of their problems. For customer care, some banks have adopted 7x24 services of phone banking and through call centre outsourcing. But the irritating feature here is that these services are outside the domain of the logged in customer.

But these are so horrendous and mechanized that no human being ever would like to use if they have a choice. I hate these fellows who invented these computerized telephone services which is of no use for genuine customers.

I just cannot understand what prevents the banks from having a one-to-one communication with the customer through a secured e-mail system. What I meant here is that the customer making a representation of his problem of demand through e-mail after he establishes his identity after logging in to the online banking service even for non-routine requests or complaints and the bank taking cognizance of the same and acting. It is the responsibility of the banks to make identity of the customers. But they can do that where ever they feel like by not making the customers visit their bank branches ( which are now located in inaccessible corners of crowded cities!)

Coming to the insurance service companies I would say they are extremely customer friendly at the time of insuring. They provide good incentives to their agents and officers for 'catching' the customers and insuring them with their various kinds of insurance 'products'. All of them provide home service. They take appointment and are willing to come to your home for selling their product.

But once sold their policies and obtaining your commitment in premium pay-outs they become too hostile when the customer ever become unfortunate to demand the insured sum from them. It is the case with all insurance companies in India, whether in public sector or private sector. Poor customers, they will know about the hard reality only at the most unfortunate time and that time is not so appropriate for running after them. So the insurance companies in India are too unfair in their services. They sell their fine print policy documents, no doubt in a friendly manner. But they would never ever show that friendliness if you ever happen to communicate with them afterwards. Their policies would not even show the procedure to be adopted or even the name and addresses of their officers with whom the policy holder should communicate in case of a claim. Even if such a thing is shown it would be written in such fine print or obscure way clearly showing their hidden agenda that they do not actually intent that any one should do it.

Coming to the telecom service. They have now come up with thousand and one ways of extracting the customers money without the customer ever knowing about it. They take small small amounts from the customers and keep filling their coffers. There is absolutely no way to prove a telecom company at fault. Even when their line do not work, they charge the customers. They are also one sided service providers.

But imagining that the customers are fools always is the biggest mistake these companies would be doing. They may be fooling around for some time and making money. But they would be doomed in the long run if they keep doing this kind of services for ever.

The inability of these companies to provide fair service to the customers is due to their unfair prioritization of policies. Their employees are not properly educated or inadequately trained.

Indian service companies have to learn a lot from their western counterparts. Name sake collaborations with some western companies alone would not be sufficient.

To do business without cheating the customers and to succeed on a long term basis they need to learn and understand the principles of business ethics and real customer satisfaction from their hearts and not just in advertisement gimmicks !

Now coming to the fair practices.

I find many of the on line service provider companies providing services of airline or railway ticket booking, travel booking, hotel booking, show booking, etc are doing fairly good service. Most often they automatically restore the moneys transferred where bookings were not effected. They also attend to the complaints to restore the customer confidence. More often their business models are hassle free in general. The general complaints are on account of the Internet connection failures or power failures which are mostly beyond their control. But their softwares do take care of such eventualities. Most of these companies also talk to their customers or send them e-mail communications to the satisfaction of the customers.

I also find the so-called radio taxi services which have been started in some of the metros reasonably good. These business models if extended on a large scale covering more areas would immensely help the general public. The main hindrance in the expansion of such businesses are the local administration and the state governments.

On the overall, there is immense potential in India for companies who wish to do business in a fair manner.


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