For over a decade, I kept away from PSUs as much as I could. I had had bad experiences with both BSNL and a PSU bank, and I swore I would never ever have anything to do with PSU telecom companies and banks.
But I kept hearing about how the two PSU behemoths were changing...and adapting to the times.
My experience at Valparai, a hill station in Tamil Nadu, forced me to get a BSNL SIM card. I had to be without even basic mobile connectivity for two full days at Valparai, as only BSNL had services there. Our family had four SIM cards of three private telecom service providers but they were of no use.
The purchase and activation process of the BSNL SIM card was, to my surprise, a smooth and pleasant experience. First, the process of getting a number of your choice - online. I got mine within minutes. I was told to go to the BSNL office to submit the KYC documents. The process was over - again within minutes, and the SIM went live in just an hour!
Yesterday, I went to BSNL's online portal to recharge it. When I proceeded to register for the prepaid recharge, I had mentally prepared myself for a tough experience. The reason: I had heard horror stories of how public sector portals functioned. But, I was once again surprised. The registration was a breeze.
Now came the best part - the recharge process itself. As I logged in and selected the recharge voucher, the screen showed the full details of the recharge, including validity. The next screen showed my pre-paid balance and other details. The recharge was done within minutes.
I had recharged an ISD pack. When I tried calling the international number, the call did not get through. The recorded voice asked me to contact BSNL.
Now, I had to speak to a 'live' person in BSNL for the first time! After going through the usual IVR process, I selected the number for 'Agent' and was once again surprised when the call got connected to a 'live' person in just one ring. I was told to send an SMS for activating the ISD service. I asked her when it would be activated. She had the usual reply, "Within 24 hours."
I did not even had to wait for 24 seconds. The ISD service was activated immediately.
We assume public sector companies will be sloppy and expect a bad experience. Of course, there were days when people dreaded entering PSU offices. My experience with BSNL a decade ago was what had prompted me to keep away from PSUs. It is heartening when we realise their level of transformation. In fact, the private sector telecom players can learn a thing or two from BSNL's online portal.
Info: Click here for BSNL's portal. (Recharges can also be done without registering)