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‘Customer Delight’ a Key to Success

It’s official. America’s cable and wireless providers are the worst when it comes to customer service, according to the recently published “Customer Service Hall of Shame” list. Comcast ranks No. 1 at providing the most abysmal customer service among those surveyed, while AT&T, now officially merged with DirecTV, comes in at No. 5. In fact, cable, satellite and wireless service providers make up six of the year’s top 10.

While most media companies claim to be committed to providing good customer service, and many invest millions in marketing catchphrases and taglines to reinforce that claim, few have learned it’s not what you say but what you do that matters most.

We learned this valuable lesson over the past three decades as one of India’s largest private-sector enterprises, with our core areas of business in consumer electronics and home appliances. That’s why, when Videocon launched its Videocon d2h direct-to-home service in July 2009 — entering a marketplace with five established service providers — our goal was to differentiate ourselves by providing 100% customer satisfaction. Since Indian regulations mandate nonexclusive content, we realized that the only way we could distinguish ourselves from our competitors was by innovating in the areas where their customers were dissatisfied.

We promised same-day installation; superior compression technology that essentially eliminated buffering issues; a simple prepaid subscription model; and a plethora of local, regional and specialty channels all supported by professional, courteous and timely resolution of customer complaints.

By shifting 8% to 10% of our operating budget to retaining customers rather than constantly acquiring new ones, we created some 300 local Direct Service Centers (DSCs), extensively training and employing more than 7,000 customer service and technical support representatives. Staff are assigned to DSCs based on customer density and are empowered to resolve any customer’s service issue quickly. Employee promotions and incentive programs are based on customer ratings of an individual’s performance.

Today, Videocon d2h is ranked as the best and the fastest-growing DTH service provider in India. More encouraging is the fact that 90 million to 100 million Indian homes will be making the switch to digital platforms in the year ahead. We believe the bulk of the credit goes to our 7,000 customer-service technicians who will undoubtedly provide the advantage in attracting those 100 million new subscribers to Videocon d2h.

We believe this example serves as a warning to America’s media companies, especially those that are “too big to fail.” The more cumbersome their operations become, the more room there will be for upstarts willing to always put the customer, rather than the bottom line, first. Once again, our business strategy is based on one simple concept — the consumer always wins.

Saurabh Dhoot is executive chairman of Videocon d2h, a direct-tohome satellite service in India.