I recently shifted my residence from one part of Bangalore to another part of the city. An important part of the process is also to complete the formalities for the change in the gas connection, landline phone connection and updating the address in all the relevant places.
As it turns out, the process to shift my gas connection proved to be a very bad experience for me and my wife. The connection is on my wife’s name and hence she had to go through the bad experience as well.
The current process is as follows:
- The person who owns the connection comes to the franchisee’s office with the following documents:
- The documents that prove that you have a gas connection from Bharat Gas
- An address proof for your new address where you are moving to.
- The person submits the documents to the franchisee.
- The franchisee gives transfer advice for each gas connection that you have.
- You take this advice to the franchisee serving the area where you are shifting to.
- He creates a new connection on your name and the connection becomes active at the new address.
Now, there were a lot of things that do not go well with the entire process:
- The offices of both the franchises were really cramped up (maybe about 8’ x 8’ in all). We had 12 customers there for various reasons (buy a new connection, transfer the connection, book a replacement cylinder, enquire about the status of their bookings, etc).
- There were only 2 employees handling these customers.
- There was no air circulation inside the office and all the customers were sweating profusely.
- The attitude of the employees was not helping either.
- The franchisee owner wanted to talk to each customer who wants to buy or transfer their connections. He only comes to office post lunch as he has other businesses to attend.
- Once, the franchisee knew that we were transferring the connection to someother franchisee and there is no more revenue coming from us, he demanded a service charge of INR 100 for the transfer. When asked for an invoice for the fee, he just gave a scrap of dummy invoice.
- There was a notice which said that the customers can buy the stove and other accessories wherever they wish. However, the franchisee was not only forcing new customers to buy the accessories but was also forcing them to buy specific accessories from a specific brand. As a customer who is desperate for a gas connection and having got to the owner after a grueling 40-45 mins in que, the consumer just bought the same and left fuming.
Is all of this necessary? What can BPCL (parent organization which owns Bharat Gas) do to ease this situation?
- Allow consumers to book their replacement cylinders by using a code based SMS engine for managing the reservation centrally. This is a fairly simple solution to implement, which will reduce the queues at the franchisees by half and improve transparency in the entire process. FIFO for all orders received. This will improve the customer satisfaction tremendously.
- For transfer from one franchisee to another, provide a simple form that the customer can download and fill at his convenience. The same can then be dropped at a drop-box at the office of the new franchisee where you want to transfer the connection to. The new franchisee would then do the necessary process in the back-end.
- Ensure that the offices of the franchisees are at least well-ventilated and comfortable for customers visiting the premises.
- Create a feedback mechanism to allow customers to file complaints about misconduct of the franchisees.
Simple things can go a long way in improving customer service and satisfaction. Right now, maybe due to the subsidized environment, no companies right now feel the need to invest on customer satisfaction but with the government looking to end the subsidy regime any time, such attitude can create a great competitive advantage over other competitors in the new environment.
BPCL, are you listening?