I came across this interesting interview with Mr Srinath, Managing Director of Tata Teleservices in today’s Hindu (Please see the link). Mr Ramnath Subbu has done a splendid job by asking some incisive questions and Mr Srinath’s answers are insightful as well as positive. He sees what he calls ‘headroom’ for growth in what is perceived to be a highly competitive industry riddled with controversies and intense competition. His company is in the unenviable position of being caught right in the middle of another controversy.
I have been a customer of his company almost since the day launched their services in Chennai. In the initial stages, people stayed away from Tata Indicom, as it was called then, because many people thought CDMA to be dying technology, not realising its superior voice and data quality. While the initial experience was good, the service levels started deteriorating over a period of time, until, one day, I had to personally go to the “hub” near my house to set right some problem, and lo at 18-45 hours they refused to let me in because they were closing at 19-00 hours ! So much for customer care!
Due to the intervention of some highly committed managers, who approached my problem in a professional manner and solved it effectively, I deepened my relationship by moving my company’s entire business. When Mobile Number Portability became a reality, I moved a couple of our GSM numbers also to this company. We added more telephone and datacards. Then fun and games started. Quality f GSM signals were poor. Though they tried several times, they could nt find a permanent solution. It deteriorated to the extent that I could not receive or make calls from my GSM Tata Docomo phone sitting in my drawing room or my office room.
Then came 3G ! I was promised one month’s time. That month came and went 14 months ago. Still no 3 G !
Call drops, voice breaks and other signs of poor quality became more frequent. The less we talk of signal quality while roaming, the better. Once I was driving down from Madras to Bangalore. The signals were almost non-existent. Then a short drive outside Vaiyambadi I saw a huge Docomo hoarding loudly proclaiming “Our Network follows you everywhere “. I sopped just below the hoarding and no signal !
Then some months ago while in Mysore, I am in the heart of the city, just outside the MUDA commissioner’s office. The median in the wide road was planted with several Tata Docomo notices – again proclaiming wide network. and, you are right, no signal.
So I decided to move from Tata Docomo FSM to another telecom company and that was not so pleasant. But thanks to the intervention of senior management, I accomplished that.
CDMA service has been good throughout. But alas, Mr Srinath doesn’t say anything about expanding it or growing that part of the business in the interview. After the recent integration of the various brands, of which he does mention briefly, the customer is often caught in the turf war between the GSM and CDMA “tribes” within the company.
I am sure he and his team, which I know for a fact is full of experienced, innovative and committed managers, will look inside the organisation and take the necessary remedial action to make it into a great company.