Navigation Photography

Friday, October 30, 2009

Airtel and Citibank: change for the better?

Whats up with Airtel and Citibank? These two companies had offered me mediocre service in the past. And in some instances had also caused me much grief. But things sure seems to have changed for the better.

Citibank service seems to have become superlative. Customer service touch points are excellent. The online access is quite perfect and serves all my needs, so are the account statements, the informative emails and messages I receive, etc etc. I haven't been mischarged for some unwanted service in a long long time. In fact Citi even gallantly reversed a charge on my credit card when (by oversight) I didnt pay the full amount due a couple of months ago. Finally, a couple of things have recently happened which have turned me into a delighted customer: I got an email from Citi asking whether I would like my credit card replaced free of charge since I'd swiped it recently in Thailand and they "foresee a possibility of misuse". (BTW, I'd similarly replaced my Citi credit card some years ago when Citi asked me after I'd used my card in some other country.) And Citibank has started soliciting feedback for service touch point interactions. Which needless to say, is a must for organizations engaged in the service industry.

Airtel service also seems to have become superlative. Customer service touch points have become far better, specially for prepaid mobile service. Service in general was quite excellent for Airtel broadband, but the prepaid mobile service used to be downright sucky. Call drops rates were quite high, invariably at the start of the minute which used to be quite frustrating. Trying to reach a service exec would leave one floundering in a flurry of button presses while navigating the IVRS maze. Call drops are a thing of the past (I hope). Its much easier to reach a service exec these days. The personnel are better trained, they speak better, they interact better, and they provide meaningful answers for a change. Finally, a couple of things have recently happened which have turned me into a delighted customer: My call charges have been reduced by Airtel. Cynical me says they were forced to do so what with all the fancy new offers floating around by Reliance and Docomo and Bee-Bop-Boo. But the fact remains that have reduced the charge without intervention by me. And like Citibank, Airtel has started soliciting feedback for service touch point interactions via toll free SMSes!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Getting to BIAL early in the morning

Hahahah... how unlivable can this city be?

I need to catch a 6 am flight tomorrow and have been trying to figure out the cheapest way to get to the new Bangalore International airport. I need to get there no later than 5 am, which means I need to leave at about 3:30 am from where I stay (JP Nagar).

The earliest BMTC Vayu Vajra Volvo Service bus from Jayanagar IVth block is 4am, while the earliest from BTM Layout is 4:30. For obviously reasons, I cant take either.

I called up BMTC airport kiosk to find out other options, and they said that buses from Majestic will leave at 3:00am, 3:30 and 3:55. Excellent.

But having past experience with the likes of BMTC I called up the Kempegowda Bus Stand to cross check. These guys had a different story. They said between 12:00 am and 4 am, Vajra buses are every hour only. So no buses at 3:30 and 3:55. Good thing I cross checked.

Armed with this info, I called up Celcabs which is the official feeder service for BIAL buses and they said there are no buses from Majestic before 6 am!

(On a side note, I was surprised how helpful the guys were. They refused to take a booking unless I was quite sure that I would get a bus at 3:00 am. Which of course I was not.)

Then I started checking the net for information on traveling on the Volvos at night and chanced upon the scanned schedules of the BIAL service in BMTC Vayu Vajra Volvo Service to Airport (BIAL) Timings and Schedule, which bears out what Celcabs said.

Finally, I thought I would call up the special BMTC number given for Route 9 on the last scanned schedule page to cross check all the info yet again. The first number is always busy. The second goes to someone's residence!

BMTC, I bow down before your superior service.

Tomorrow I will take my trusted cab service, Easycabs to the airport and hang the expense.

Welcome all to the armpit of the world: Namma Bangaluru.

PS: Big thanks to Vinay for taking the huge trouble of scanning and posting the BMTC Vajra schedules!