Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Valid concern...

Around mid-March, our BSNL telephone line was down for over a week, and I had to go to the office every alternate day to find out when it would be fixed. One fine day, I learnt that it was a major breakdown with several lines in the area down, and that it would take a few more days to be fixed. That was when a senior citizen, who had also been regularly wearing out his feet at the steps of the BSNL office lost his cool and raised a very valid concern.

His telephone had been down for more than 10 days, that is, for 1/3rd of the month -- will BSNL reduce the monthly rental paid by him since the service was not available for such a long period, he asked! To a person living out of a small pension, every rupee mattered, and the wastage of 1/3rd of the monthly rental is a big matter of concern. It is a matter of concern for every person, for that matter. He obviously got only a grumble and a curt reply saying the lineman will come (when?) soon.

Despite the emergence of several competitors, and the apparent change in the outlook of government agencies, organisations like BSNL still seem to consider serving the customer with a smile as a favour bequeathed on the latter (at least that is the attitude of most of the old-school customer-facing staff). Needless to say, they will not go out of their way, ever, to make a customer happy. Can you even dream of BSNL giving the concerned citizen a discount on his monthly bill, just because he raised a valid concern. I can definitely think of many MNCs and even proactive Indian private players doing (or at least considering) it.

With the kind of infrastructure and clout that government institutions have, just imagine what a sea change a little change in attitude can bring about. A lot to hope for, but well, some things seem to never change!