How India's Mobile Phone Service Providers Use Facebook?
India Co-creates: A Status Update 2011-12A cursory look at the official social media networking sites of India’s top mobilephone operators can show how customers are desperate to get their issues escalatedand resolved using social media, and how mobile phone service providers find it achallenge to use social media as an effective customer co-creation channel.Sample the following “conversation” between a customer and an Indian mobilephone service provider, in its official Facebook page. Nivedita Datta (December 26, 2011 at 12:11pm) “Dear (Operator), Hope u get back to me soon else I shall shift from (Operator) to some other provider & will recommend others also nt to go to (Operator) for their poor service. Regards, A (till now) loyal (Operator) cust.” Operator (December 26, 2011 at 3:53pm) “Hi Nivedita, We tried calling you but the number was switched off. Please share an alternate contact number for us here http://bit.ly/something to help you better.” Nivedita Datta (December 26, 2011 at 6:58pm) “I called at the toll free no for assistance & was put on hold forever... seems u ppl dont anymore care about needs of your customers or u hav too many customers so u dont care about losing a few...!” Operator (December 27, 2011 at 9:48am) “Hello Nivedita, Thanks for speaking with us, do let us know whenever you need our assistance.”Author: G Sankaranarayanan Page 1
India Co-creates: A Status Update 2011-12 Nivedita Datta (December 27, 2011 at 9:50am) “seems u didt read what I wrote... No one picked my call to help me out...! N I m freaked out with such service...! and very soon ill move out of (Operator) as I am losing trust on ur services...! :/” Operator (December 27, 2011 at 12:04pm) “Hello Nivedita, We request you to write to us at customercare@(Operator.in) for further assistance.” Nivedita Datta (December 27, 2011 at 12:05pm) “I hav done that as well bt no reply...” Operator (December 27, 2011 at 3:24pm) “Hi Nivedita, Thanks for speaking with us, trust we were able to assist you with the info needed.”This is not an isolated incident pertaining to a particular operator. One can takeout any number of such cases of poor corporate social communication from theFacebook pages of almost all operators.Until social media emerged, there is no way for the customers to interact withoperators openly or the public to watch the interactions real time. Needless tosay, this is an opportunity, as handling of a problem situation better would havemade not only the concerned customer but also others who are observing thescene feel better. A good ending to a social media conversation equals to a croreworth of advertisement.It’s time that operators trained their social media team in social communication,and importantly, empower the team with more power to resolve customer issues.To begin with, the social media team should be not an exclusive social mediateam, but a team that is comprised of heads of different functions - from productdevelopment to marketing to customer care. So, when there is an issue, the socialmedia team does not have to ask the customer on Facebook to write firstname.lastname@example.org, but simply solve issues.Social media for business valueAuthor: G Sankaranarayanan Page 2
India Co-creates: A Status Update 2011-12It also becomes clear that the operators are yet to focus on co-creating businessvalue using social media. They want to simply boost the number of likes, triggermore comments on aimless conversations around frivolous current affairs. AsJason Falls, Author of No Bullshit Social Media says, “We’ve had enough of thehippie, tree-hugger, Kumbaya nonsense and want to start using social media as astrategic business driver". Social media is a numbers game - but the numbers are not only about the quantity of the following (see Table 1), but also about the quality of business results. Tata Docomo have huge, huge number of fans - over 50 lakh and counting, an enormous feat! But how they are being tapped for generating new product idea, service offering, or a corporate social responsibility project is a big question. For instance, Idea Cellular is running several engagement projects such as “Give us Your Idea Mantra”, “Idea Frames”, and “Citizen Journalists” that go well with the promotion of its “idea” brand. Idea Frames is a good exampleSource: Younomy Research of engaging people for brand promotion. Idea Frames features interesting photographs shared by its fans and followers, who “can grab your day of fame by uploading interesting photographs”. Idea’s Citizen Journalists project, which promotes video content posted by general public on serious civic, social issues, is another case in point.However, many a times, such crowd-sourcing projects are embarked uponwithout providing a road map as to how the user generated ideas would be used.Recently Idea Mantra asked the fans and friends to contribute their ideas forreducing the crime rate against women, and tips to Indian cricket team to win atournament. There are hundreds of idea submissions that most probably wouldgo down the social media stream unnoticed and unused.Operators need to think about a specific value that can be co-created with theirfollowers, and if needed, have to partner with organizations to ensure that thecrowd-sourced ideas see the light of day.Author: G Sankaranarayanan Page 3
India Co-creates: A Status Update 2011-12Mapping the Distribution of DandelionsFacebook or Youtube or Twitter is not just for companies to push latestpromotions, and offers to customers. They give opportunities for them to convertcustomers into co-creators of a more strategic business value.Consider Fujitsu’s truly inspiring “Dandelion Front Map” project. Launched inFebruary, 2011, Fujitsu’s "Lets Make a Nationwide Dandelion Front MapTogether!" project aims to crowd-source photos of dandelions, Japan’s famousflower, taken by its employees, their families, and general public so as to map thedistribution of these flowers in Japan. Fujitsu is partnering with Aichi Universityof Education. This is how it works: Anyone with the mobile phone having a camera, can take part in the project. The participants have to take photos of nearby dandelions in bloom using the camera function of their GPS- equipped mobile phones, and send them to a designated e-Source: Fujitsu mail address. Fujitsu stores the information in a database and plots them as a map,which would show the nationwide distribution of dandelion species in Japan. Thecompany expects the project to contribute its bit to biodiversity conservation, andraise awareness of the importance of the issue among employees and public.With their growing, active, and intelligent following, India’s mobile phoneoperators too have opportunity and responsibility to conceive co-creation projectsthat aims at a business, social or environmental value.Author: G Sankaranarayanan Page 4
India Co-creates: A Status Update 2011-12Highlights of Operators’ Social Media Projects:Notwithstanding shortfalls, there are many interesting things to note from theway the operators manage their social media initiatives. Some of them are:Tata Docomo’s Facebook Page RulesWith the daunting task of managing a community of over 50 lakh fans, TataDocomo has done a great job by coming up with a Facebook Page Rules. TheRules provide instructions related to what type of content is welcome, and what isnot, among others. When the posts violate the rules, the company can removethem.Tata Docomo’s Promotional Schemes:Tata Docomo’s contest Jeet Ki Ghanti rewards (though not a social media-exclusive one) its loyal customers with bikes and cars. The pan India contest hadgenerated a huge response. “We had expected 3-4 per cent response from ourcurrent base, but it had exceeded 10 per cent," said a company executive. Theparticipation from across the country crossed over 9.5 million - the company’ssubscriber base is about 90 million, proving to be “a testimony to the brand forleveraging digital media for driving connect and creating a strong and uniqueposition in the digital world”.Airtel & Idea Cellular’s Exclusive Customer Complaint PageThe customers number one priority appears to be solving issues they face withthe mobile phone services. Like what Airtel and Idea Cellular have done, therecan be an exclusive page for “customer complaints”, and they should be duly,effectively sorted out. The social media team of many operators simply do notrespond to neither customer complaints nor the compliments in a genuine,human-like voice.Author: G SankaranarayananMail: email@example.comAuthor: G Sankaranarayanan Page 5