About 54% Indians have used social media to get a customer service response at least once in the past year as compared to an average of 20% in other markets. However, 64% Indians lose their temper with a customer service professional which is far higher in comparison to an average of 48% across the world
You may have horrifying experience while dealing with a customer service representative or department for any product you have bought or any service you are using, but according to a survey around 54% of Indians have used social media like Twitter and Facebook to resolve their grievances. This is more than twice the average 20% of consumers in markets across the world, says the findings of American Express Global Customer Service Barometer.
The survey conducted in India and 10 other countries also found that people in India who use social media for customer service are more willing than the general population to reward companies with both business and loyalty for quality service and end relationship due to poor service.
Indians also score high when it comes to losing one's temper while dealing with the customer service representatives. About 64% Indians lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year, far higher in comparison to an average of 48% in other markets, the survey found out.
"Today's networked consumers are demanding engagement, personalization, and prompt response from the companies they deal with across multiple channels. They also wield a lot of influence because they spend more for great service and share their opinions widely. Ultimately, these consumers can help influence improvements to service quality," said Pradeep Kapur, senior vice president for world service India and process excellence at American Express.
According to the survey, companies' track record for resolving issues through social media has been good so far. While more than a third of consumers (37%) feel they always have their issues resolved, another 14% say they rarely or never get an answer.
The perception is positive for the time companies take to respond-80% of Indians feel companies have improved their response times through social media over the past year, which is far better than other markets, the survey said.
Social media is not the only way people are spreading the word about their customer service experiences. Consumers overall will tell significantly more people about their customer service experiences compared to last year and other countries, highlighting the importance of every interaction for businesses aiming to build customer loyalty and a positive image. On an average, Indians talk to 44 people about good customer service experiences and to 46 people about their bad experiences.
"When customers know that a company is listening to them and addressing their needs quickly and responsively, they will not only spend more-they will spread the word to others as well. Great customer service is great business and positions a brand with staying power," Mr Kapur added.
According to the survey, 87% people are willing to spend more for better service-willing to spend an average of 22% more; 74% say they have spent more in the past year. In addition, 80% of consumers surveyed feel small businesses provide a more personal customer service experience than large companies.
For a complex query (such as returning a product or getting assistance with a product issue), people gravitate to a "real person on the phone". Specifically, 25% of Indians prefer addressing complex queries to a "real person" which is low when compared to the average of nearly 37% in other markets. Moreover, Indians expressed their preference for using a diverse range of channels when addressing complex queries including automated voice response systems (12%) and Social Networking sites (10%)-nearly twice the number of their counterparts (other markets: average of 6% prefer automated systems; 5% prefer social networking sites).
The average consumer in India is more patient than their counterparts in other markets surveyed when they want to contact a customer service centre by telephone. Respondents hit his or her boiling point after 16 minutes on hold, higher than other markets (Mexico - 15 minutes, Canada and Australia 14 minutes each, Germany and Netherlands 7 minutes each and Japan - 6 minutes). When it comes to customer wait time in-person, Indians wait for an average of 17 minutes for help at establishments such as banks, retail stores or restaurants, which is higher than all other markets surveyed, the American Express survey finds out.
The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer research was completed online among a random sample of 1,007 Indian consumers aged 18 and above.
Posing I-T officials a gang looted a doctor and also used fake letters to get police protection during the raid. Now the I-T department want to nab the master-mind of the gang, believed to be an insider
This is not a story directly lifted or inspired (as they call it in Bollywood) from a movie, but is a real life incidence. A gang of six people—claiming to be income tax (I-T) officers—raided a house of a doctor with the help from local police, seized Rs11.1 lakh and also demanded a bribe to close the case. Only things, the ID cards and letters used by the gang were all fake. This has prompted the Sahranpur Joint Commissioner of I-T to issue a note to all offices requesting their help in nabbing the master-mind of this gang.
According to the release, on 18 April 2012, this gang of six people led by VD Goyal raided the house of Dr Mohan Pandey in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The gang claimed that they were from Office of the CII, Lucknow and also submitted a letter (which turned out to be fake as their ID cards) issued by the Commissioner of Income Tax, Zone-2, Lucknow to the SSP, Saharanpur and got allotted police force for the raid.
Mr Goyal, who may be an ex-employee of the I-T department, appeared to be well-versed with the procedures and laws related with search and raids. He and his gang took away Rs11.1 lakh from Dr Pandey and also demanded a bribe to close the case.
Meanwhile, after receiving an anonymous call regarding the fake raid, Dr Pandey filed a first information report (FIR) with the police, who then arrested two members of the gang and also the driver of the doctor. However, there is no trace of either Mr Goyal or other members of his gang.
Requesting all I-T offices to circulate the photograph and information about the master-mind of the gang, the joint commissioner has said that it believes that this so-called VD Goyal, directly or indirectly belongs to the I-T department as he was well-versed with the procedures and law of search. “He may be a terminated or suspended employee of this department. To save the respect of our department, it is requested that if any officer/official know about identity/name of this fraud man it may be immediately conveyed to Income Tax Office, Saharanpur,” the joint commissioner said in the release.
The issue of fake currency notes coming out of ATMs is very real. What can be done? Here are some suggestions
Most ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) in India simply dispense cash, but increasingly are being readied for a host of other functions and capabilities, so the risk increases. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) the ATM machines should:
Is this objective met? Not really.
There are two broad ways in which currency notes are stuffed into ATMs in India. One, by the bank staff themselves, usually for the 'onsite' machines. Two, by specific agencies which do the stuffing- often as common carriers for multiple banks. I have worked in many aspects of the ATM industry and my sources tell me:
1) None of the banks in India, currency chests or agencies have facilities for 100% verification at all stages of currency notes headed for ATMs-except for some very specific marked ATMs which are located in VVIP locations. Yes, this is being corrected, but the speed of growth of ATMs is also high.
2) The chances of genuine cash sent by the banks directly from the cash chest/teller being swapped for counterfeit notes is not so high for onsite ATMs. However, it does exist as a higher risk for off-site ATMs, as well as for ATMs stuffed by agencies. The arrival of 'white' ATMs will further muddy the waters.
3) The global concept and practice of sending only pre-stuffed and sealed 'cassettes' for insertion into the larger 'cartridges' for the dispensers and then to be placed inside the 'vault' of ATMs is being resisted by banks and agencies in India. These pre-sealed 'cassettes' provide physical security by 'neutralising' currency notes in case of physical attacks and also provide note-by-note accountability in case of transactional lacunae.
What would we, as consumers of currency notes, really want and deserve? After all, the issue of FICN/counterfeit currency notes is very real, and at the very least, some steps have to be taken to protect us, assuming that almost all ATM transactions are for consumers who not in the fake money business. Here are some simple steps which need to be taken, and which we should demand:
1) All ATMs in India need to be provided with a centralised RBI reference number, and this must be displayed prominently at the location, as well as on the ATM and also on the paper trail.
2) All ATMs must indicate whether they are "sealed cassette stuffed" or "loose stuffed".
3) Performance of ATMs-failed transactions, disputed transactions, down-times, frequency of FICN and similar data must be available online.
4) ATMs can then be provided either 'star' rating or percentile performance rating, which needs to also be displayed on the ATM.
5) Most importantly, the ATM must indicate whether it is providing 100% authentic currency notes or not, and by what method.
6) Certain other safeguards, like silent alarm provision as well as provision of a 'cover' on the key-pad, need to be incorporated too.
7) Disabled access is another issue which needs to be resolved.
There are more too, but these are the least we can expect. After all, we are customers worth Rs4 lakh a day-a fairly heavy turnover under any circumstances for 9 square metres of real estate.
A bank is not doing a customer a big favour by providing an ATM; it is actually doing itself a favour primarily by reducing the cost and effort of human interaction. In exchange, a customer must know what level of service to expect, and RBI needs to enforce this. Today's customer is very aware of what is going on and is willing to pay a premium for better and more reliable service. The earlier this is done, and certainly before the introduction of "white ATMs", the better.
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing.)