Mobile Number Portability – The great catalyst

I have been an Airtel customer since I don’t remember when! In fact I was using a mobile phone when incoming calls were actually charged! Now that must give an idea of how long in the history of telecom revolution my reference point goes. I must add that I have been exercising infidelity by being with Vodafone & Aircel owing to work considerations. But I am back to being with Airtel.

Well from then till about a few weeks back, Airtel has never ever told me how important I am to them. Not even once.

I am dead sure that a Vodafone / Loop / Aircel / (fill in name of your service provider) is no different either.

Today’s a different story!

I have received calendar(s) from Airtel. I urge you to note the ‘(s)’ when I say calendar. Yes. I got them twice. The same calendar which is personalized to have my name inscribed in different images in different formats! My name is written in the clouds, on filing cabinets, on car number plates, on chocolates and as firework bursts! Yum! Customer delight, right? WRONG!

  • Sudden shower of love on your partner after ages of neglect would make her / him believe that you are cheating on them! The customer of today is not dumb. If these service providers don’t believe it, I would urge them to get on twitter. These same customers would be found calling your bluff in a public forum.
  • Providing options on billing plans! This is amongst the worst that the current network can do to its customer. It is almost akin to telling him “Hey fool! I have been overcharging you till date. But since you want to go away from my network, I will now charge you what I should have been charging you ages back!”
  • Providing upgrades / freebees – Well this is the least disruptive. At least, this may be seen as a genuine effort to keep the customer rather than letting them go.
  • Not being helpful to a customer who wants to go. Recently, I read reports (unable to find the link) that service providers are not being helpful during the porting process and are disrupting calls during the process etc. This would result in only one thing! Even if the other service provider is bad, he/she will NEVER come back to you!

By doing any or all of the above these behemoth organizations are forgetting that they are forgetting the fundamental principles of marketing, customer service and management in general.

  • Customer centricity – It is more important to have 5 absolutely delighted / satisfied customers than 45 disgruntled customers. In the name of business expansion, most telecom companies have done exactly that!
  • Consistency – If you wanted to keep the customer happy, do that continuously. Not when the customer has suddenly become more powerful than you. Or at least has the power to say ‘no’ to you!
  • Brand image – Consistency again! Every brand has gone through changes in logo, image and message at least 3-4 times in the last 10 years. It is (in my humble opinion) futile to change the brand image and the logo so many times! I agree that people have short memory. Which is more of a reason why a large brand should reinforce their existing message than changing their tonality and the message every four years.
  • Attention to detail – It is important to do 4 things right as against 50 wrong. Just see these two images below and you would understand what I mean.


Mobile Number Portability has suddenly pushed telcos to understand the importance of ‘customer retention’. It is a great thing to have happened for the customer. However, it is sad that the telecom companies have been almost juvenile in handling this eventuality despite having had ample time to put their house in order!

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