I remember the joy people felt when they saw the Hutch commercial with the pug; saying "wherever you go, our network follows you".
Today was a day when Vodafone quite literally killed that Pug. I happened to be outside Churchgate, i wanted to get my Vodafone prepaid changed to a billing service. As soon as i entered the 'exclusive' Vodafone store, the shutters were pulled down and the employees, save the one who was 'servicing' me ran to the top floor of the store.
The lights were shut down.
About 150 people had gathered round the store because the Vodafone network in the Churchgate and surrounding areas had failed for more than an hour.
The people demanded to know what happened - all they were given was "Sir/ madam, the network is down we are trying to do the best we can".
For about half an hour people waited for more answers. The Vodafone employees (or brand representatives) in the meantime hid as the crowd got bigger and agitated.
I was in the store and could hear very well the comments being passed by the employees of Vodafone "Fools just want free services", "What loosers - just tell them to go home and get a life".
Finally the store manager went out to address the crowd after about half an hour of hiding.
"Even my phone is not working", she said. Like anyone cares! You work for a company that services about a million people in Mumbai - your network fails and all you can say is that you are suffering as well!?
She further went on to say that the "network is being upgraded"; well if it is then why weren't customers informed?
Vodafone can spend tons declaring that they have arrived in Mumbai and that "Change is Good" (is it really?) but it cannot spend money on customer service which is located at the heart of the brand.
All show and no service is a sure shot recipe for failure.
If one considers mobile telephony in India which supposedly is going to pave the way for users to access the Internet, one really wonders how that will happen if a premier service provider cannot even deliver voice services effectively.
Vodafone should seriously consider compensating the customers who were affected as a result of their incompetence.
But then again this is the country where customer is never king - and if any marketeer reading this wants to defend that then try.