Over the past few years, the telecom rates have gone down drastically. I think it was Financial Express that reported that telecom rates cannot fall further. It is a fallacy indeed and I would give reasons to the contrary.
It is clear that despite the huge outlays, the companies have been fighting tooth and nail for new customers. Contrary to all norms of sanity, they haven’t been able to give adequate after sales services. In fact, there is little to choose from the various operators. Realising this upfront, companies have resorted to advertising like the FMCG outfits(Fast Moving Consumer Goods) often utilising the services of “glamorous” people. This jacks up the cost for the end user anyway. I wish I had the break up of what all we are supposed to pay.
Advertising by word of mouth is far more effective- companies ought to build up their reputations on the quality of services and customer satisfaction rather than expensive promos. Since they are often advised by highly paid managers, I believe that this model has failed to click in order to garner higher customer growth.
Witness the desperation of an ordinary consumer- he has no access to higher echelons in the company in order to redress his complaints. Individual cases may differ but by and large the maximum number of billing related complaints are usually handled by obscure voices. Someone who maybe quite smart enough maybe able to talk to the floor manager; often the “experienced colleagues” are called in to talk to “irate customers”.
There is enough feedback on the same from harassed customers here on this blog and elsewhere which is enough to point out the fact that some people are forced to grin and bear the lousy services.
Then again, there are no reliable Quality of Services parameters. In the event of a customer having no real choice, sales are driven by over zealous Direct Selling Agents or telemarketing; giving a spectre of spam telephone calls. Privacy issues in this country are rarely looked into.
Before I stop painting this bleak scenario, depsite the claims that telephone rates have fallen sharply, there has been no real reduction in the post paid bills. Companies often seek to charge the customers for “misscellaneous expenses”.
In this backdrop, the argument that call rates have really fallen, doesnt hold much water. Agreed that companies have huge outlays, they have earned huge profits. For example Airtel earned profits to the tune of 1500+ crores. Exact figures maynot be forthcoming but clearly there is scope for reducing the call rates qualitatively.
I propose that voice calls be made free of cost for a certain number of minutes for upfront payment. In this event, the Access Deficint Charge be totally phased out and inter circle connectivity be made possible instead of routing the calls through the incumbent carrier-BSNL. This way it would be cheaper and cost effective for all the parties involved. In any casee on an average a person cannot call for more than 5 hours per day. That roughly translates to 150 hours per month out of total 720 hours. Witness the total cost savings overall.
In this scenario, where would the money come from? Simple. Content services. The nice people at Content Sutra would be happy to inform you the moves and shakes in the mobile content related services. As it is the mobile service companies are charging premium rates for certain services; Airtel for Kaun Banega Crorepati( Who wants to be a millionaire?)
Reliance has effectively leveraged it’s strength in this and slowly driving up it’s sales on the same count. Reliance to Reliance is free within circle.
The possibilities are endless. I believe that we need some bit of imagination to drive the growth further.