Telcos try their best to ‘please' and ‘stop' the porting customers

A few million mobile users who want to ‘port' don't find it that easy to shift to another operator.

The current provider doesn't want to let them go, while the new provider is ready to do everything to draw them in – including special offers.

Walk into any customer service stores of telecom companies and executives roll out plans specifically aimed at customers threatening to port their number to another operator.

Special plan

For instance, the Vodafone store in Churchgate, Mumbai said the company is offering a special three-month plan to Mobile Number Portability (MNP) customers, where call charges are 10 paise per minute (Vodafone to Vodafone). Call charges to other networks are fixed at 30-40 paise/min.

Loop is giving post-paid customers the option to take a plan with a monthly rental of Rs 50, bundled with other call benefits.

“Normal churn is between 2 per cent and 3 per cent in strong operators. MNP is one tenth of that (in post paid). While the customer count is not very significant, but the value they represent is important.

Retaining higher ARPU customers is very important. A lot of proactive methods are required, whether it is in terms of addressing customers' network problems, tariff, billing besides loyalty rewards, service guarantees etc.” said Mr Surya Mahadevan, COO, Loop Mobile.

However, port outs in pre-paid accounts are much higher than post paid.

MNP data show that leaders in the net port-in at the end of March 31, is Idea with a net port in of 24 lakh users, followed by Vodafone at 17 lakh and Airtel at 10 lakh.

Rising complaints

Despite these efforts, consumer groups are still getting complaints. Mr Achintya Mukherjee, Honorary Joint Secretary, Bombay Telephone Users' Association, said, “I have been getting hundreds of mails on a regular basis. Last year, I got at least 80 per cent of the port in / port outs done.”

Many consumers think that telecom operators deliberately delay the port-out process, in a bid to retain them. This may, however, be due to some mistakes on their part.

“Of the unsuccessful porting requests, about 40 per cent are due to a mismatched unique porting code,” said Mr Sanjay Kasturia, Vice-President, Syniverse Technologies, an enabler of MNP in India.

priya.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 20, 2012)
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