Purchasing process should be the easiest

Purchasing process should be the easiest and simplest process within a business.

After you have spent all the money on marketing, sales, branding etc, a business should not lose a customer because they have made it difficult for customer to purchase their product or service.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses out there who don’t think from a customer’s perspective and design a simple and effortless purchasing process.

I had a personal experience couple of weeks ago around this.

My wife wanted to move from a post paid mobile phone service to a pre-paid one.

The ideal solution here would have been to go to the App, pay whatever is pending on post-paid plan, press a button and change the service to whatever pre-paid plan required. But there was no option to do this on the App.

Next, we called the contact centre and after selecting a few options on the IVR, had to listen to the plan and the balance owed. I don’t need to listen to this as I get it from my App.

From here on this is how the conversation went.

Can you switch off these messages for us so we don’t have to listen to them every time, we already know that information.

It can’t be done and every customer has to listen to them.

Ok, can you change me from a post-paid plan to a pre-paid one.

Sorry, it can’t be done on the phone and have to go to a branch office.

Why can’t it be done on phone.

You have to go to a branch to fill up and sign a form.

Why fill up and sign a form?

We have to ID you again

What? You have already identified us when we signed up originally. All identification documents were provided and should be in the system. You just have to switch us to a pre-paid plan.

We can’t do that. Pre-paid sim cards are different.

Ok send it in the post.

No, they can be picked up at the branch only after filling up the form and re-submitting identification documents.

That was the end of phone conversation. As you can see here how frustrating and complicated the purchasing process is for the biggest telecom company in India. At the end of the conversation, I felt like they did not value my business and time

Next day my wife was at the super market and there was a kiosk of competing telecom provider Jio. She approached them and became their pre-paid customer in 5 mins.

From my perspective the entire experience was not only difficult but it left me thinking they were just not interested in having us as customers and did not value our time and business.

Here is what’s wrong with the strategy and/or execution –

  • Not Customer Centric – Airtel is not customer centric. There is no focus on customer experience, processes are being designed to make it easier for the business not for customers.

In customer centric organisations, processes are designed by putting customer at the centre of it. You have to walk the same path as a customer and experience and feel all the emotions that a customer would.

Then you identify the pain points, plug the gaps and design the process in a way that makes it easy and delivers your brand promise to customers.

Airtel’s brand promise is ‘Win customers for life by offering an exceptional experience’

Obviously, they have failed to deliver on their brand promise.

Customer journey mapping is a great tool to identify the customer pain points and act on them.

  • Focused on acquisition but not retention – Airtel is not focused on retaining their customers but they are very aggressive in acquiring new customers by matching prices with Reliance Jio. It has been proven beyond fact that cost of acquisition is significantly higher than cost of retention.

The above case also supports it. They had a customer who was willing to stay with them but just wanted to change their plan and they made it so difficult that they forced the customer to move to a competitor.

A business cannot acquire new customers at the cost of existing customers. But it happens so often where special discounts are offered to new customers only and existing customers feel left out and start thinking about moving to a competitor.

  • Employee engagement and empowerment – when I mentioned to the call centre staff that we wanted to change from a post-paid to a pre-paid plan, no effort was made by the staff to understand why and how she could help us further.

Instead we were read out the company policy without any empathy or even the understanding that they might lose me as a customer. Obviously, the employees are not engaged and not empowered to focus on customer needs.

Disengaged employees cannot provide exceptional experience to customers, at best they will just do their job which in this case was to ready out the company policy.


Kedar Naik is Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Customer Experience Solutions. He has 20 years’ experience in helping companies understand their customers and provide great experiences to drive satisfaction, loyalty, retention and brand advocacy. Kedar also helps companies looking to offshore processes at a fraction of their current costs

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