Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mystifying Customer Service by HMWS & SB (Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board)

Customer service is a subject I love. It gives away the heart of the organisation. The HMWS & SB offers one tale.

A few years ago the usually remote government departments were nightmares to approach. If you found the office, you would not find the person. If you find the person, he would not have the time. if he had the time he would not have the file. If he had the file he wouldn't have the inclination. If he had everything the day would have ended and you are asked to come again. It was without doubt the worst experience anyone would have had in customer service. The clerks and peons (officers would not be accessed owing to their higher position in our society where they only speak to higher officers) would ridicule customers, abuse and ill treat them.

But in the past few years they have become more customer friendly. Thanks to Babu and his eseva most departments gt their jobs outsourced, systems became computerised and  more transparent and in some cases like the HMWS & SB, even 24 hour customer cells were outsourced. Smart young boys and girls would answer the phone, respectfully take down our complaints, give token numbers and check if our problems have been rectified. Wow, someone was listening!

Even better, the service and maintenance chaps would show up in hours and get the job done. They'd go away without chai paisa too! To top things, we'd get a call from customer service if the problem had been rectified.

Then things started sliding down. Most call centre people speak rudely and ask the most impertinent questions. They are impatient and we get scared to make a mistake lest they mark us down and shoot us dead or penalise us in the least. Such is their attitude.

Anyway I have been having a problem of low pressure and inadequate water supply. I called the call centre. they took down the details, I got an sms and all was fine. In the early hours a gang of linemen landed up at home, checked everything and concluded that for some reason our water connection is connected to the old 4 inch connection and not to the new 6 inch connection. 'Make an application and our Manager will look into it,' they promised and went away.

In an hour's time I got an sms. 'Your complaint has been resolved!'

One would think that the complaint would get resolved after the water pressure is increased right? But no. In the HMWS & SB, all it takes is a friendly chat and a promise or advise and the problem is resolved. Its a bit like the police who do not book cases and show that there is no crime in their area.

It is apparent that as far as HMWS & SB is concerned, the matter is closed. I will now have to file another complaint to another irritated call centre person and this time I will have to face the wrath of the linesmen and the manager too. How dare I complain again once the compliant has been resolved? I can see them looking daggers at me and saying - what do you expect us to do? Are you looking to get us into trouble?

But I will have to brave that. I will have to call that Manager 'sir, sir' please do this. I may have to meet someone else up the line (I have another horror story that is under construction, which I will reveal later). While all this is going on, the statistics for resolving customer complains quickly must be going up like crazy. Will someone explain it to to these guys?

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