India talks the GSM way, says a recent TNS survey on cellular service providers. According to TNS Celltrack, as it is called, Hutch and Aircel have captured top rankings in meeting customer expectations, while CDMA players Tata Indicom and Reliance Infocomm lag far behind in the customers’ reckoning.
Though BSNL has placed itself comfortably in the middle of the tally, MTNL, the traditional cellular operator appears at the end.
As per the final tally for the top five performers among individual operators, Hutch and Aircel lead the league sharing 78th rank. Bharti, the second largest GSM service provider, stands at 70 in terms of TRI*M index.
To conduct the survey, the global market information leader TNS used its proprietary TRI*M Stakeholder Relationship Management System, where TRI*M Index measured the intensity of retention and took into consideration both the subscriber’s level of satisfaction with the service provider as well as the level of retention and loyalty towards the brand. “The TRI*M Index of cellular subscribers at 70 is distinctly higher as opposed to CDMA subscribers, at 54,” reads an official release from TNS.
During November-December 2003, TNS zeroed in on 4,921 mobile users using a structured questionnaire across 13 telecom circles, covering both GSM and CDMA service providers. The measuring parameters were network and coverage, value-added services, company image, re-charging processes and procedures (among pre-paid), purchase process, billings and payments, tariffs and pricing and customer care/ helpline.
Interestingly, GSM subscribers seem satisfied with the ability to make and receive calls in any part of the city. The service providers have fallen short in meeting customer expectations when it comes to coverage within buildings, in basements or in elevators. Based on the survey, corporate image of the service provider continues to be an important aspect in driving retention and most service providers have been successful in building a positive and favorable image among the subscribers.
For CDMA subscribers, performance of the network turns out to be the key-driver in building customer satisfaction. Lack of coverage while on roaming is another factor leading to discontent. The subscribers of CDMA services have a positive corporate image of their service provider particularly when it comes to ‘a company that is financially strong’ and ‘being a company that is credible and you can trust’. CDMA subscribers are also seen uncomfortable with billings and payments. “Subscribers seem upset with not receiving bills in time and the bills not being accurate or error-free,” the release states.
However, the industry has performed sub-average in various aspects related to customer care/helpline. These include time taken before a caller is responded, time consumed to resolve complaints, decision-making ability of the call center personnel, comprehensive analysis of tariff plans and promptness in taking action on complaints.
Dwelling on the survey results, Abraham Karimpanal, Vice President, Stakeholder Management Division, TNS India, says: “Looking at the performance of the cellular industry over time, we can see that the overall performance was continuously increasing until 2002. However, with the customer-base almost doubling from 2002 to 2003, the TRI*M Index marginally dropped from 72 to 70 – the service providers need to delight the customers a lot more to retain them.”