Saturday, February 26, 2011


There were a couple of different names I was thinking for this post but either they would have been too long or only touching upon one of the aspects of change in airtel. So I stuck to what is this post all about.

A few months ago, when airtel changed it's logo I made a very foolish argument. My argument was - the logo lacks any creativity. It is almost like an inverse image of the Vodafone logo and this when Vodafone is airtel's biggest competitor at it's home ground - India.

This according to me was a loss of vision and differentiation and reduced focus due to it's immediate and major focus on Africa and widening the foot print.

Honestly, I knew my arguments were good fun for a water cooler discussion and did not make any real business sense to begin with.

With so many veterans and top managers at work from airtel and agencies this wasn't a school project. It was part of a Rs 300 crore marketing campaign airtel was to take on for its expansion to Africa and 3G roll out.

However, looks like the worsened logo and theme tune were signs of what was to come from airtel in future. How airtel has changed in last few months in it's network, service and marketing quality now makes me think - may be I said something right while I was giving gyan.

In the last few days some things that happened which make airtel look weaker than ever before.

- While sitting in my Bangalore office I got an SMS 'welcome to Airtel Chennai, enjoy great roaming rates'
- On requesting the Re. 1, one-time missed call alert, I got the first SMS for thanking me that we have received request and charged you, I never got the SMS with actual missed call details.
- I have had more call drops than ever before in the last so many years.
- I get 'number is invalid' response for calling numbers that I call every day and a few attempts later it starts working. It's the first time it's happening despite using airtel for over 5 years now.
- My friend requested for number porting to airtel. While the first request was rejected by VF due to billing problems, the second request did not even fetch a response from airtel.
- But since he did submit his documents in the first request, even though he does not have an active connection with airtel yet, last night he received an original hard copy of a zero rupee bill. Yes, it has his name printed and has bill amount 0 - while he is still happy and active on Voda.

Many of the above are not bad customer care or kind of bad reviews you will find on, they are plain vanilla mistakes on customer focus and ensuring quality.

Not to forget their campaigns on number portability, 3G, DTH, VAS service have become more lackluster than ever before.

Being one of the ardent loyalists of airtel for ages it feels sad to see it loosing its qualities that led it to reach the heights it stands today.

No wonder as data shows, it is no longer leading the race and is managing to be at the end.

Would be interesting to see if it can do some magic again to be back in the race and lead the pack.

Till then 'Express Yourself'

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