Mobiles & Tablets

The call-and-cut strategy to win over customers

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on February 06, 2014


How the simple missed call is emerging as a powerful business tool

Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Olacabs, used to get a number of missed calls from friends during his college days. Back then in 2008, nobody would have guessed that a simple missed call would emerge as a powerful business tool.

“We had introduced it as a customer service initiative,” Aggarwal said about Olacabs’ tracking mechanism. In response to a missed call, the radio cab firm would send an SMS to the customer informing him of the time the vehicle would take to reach him.

Now firms from sectors such as insurance and brokerages to telecom and technology companies are using missed calls to win clients. Banks (ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Axis Bank and Bank of India for account balances and statements), multiplexes (for show timings), retailers (for loyalty programmes), advertisers (for feedback) and political parties, among others, are making use of the missed call.

“This is the march of technology…. This has been possible after the advent of the calling-party-pays regime (free incoming calls) and caller line identification protocols (caller ID),” says Rajan S. Mathews, Director-General of the GSM operators’ body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI). Moving a step ahead, EasyCabs, another radio cab operator, launched a service that enables customers to book rides through a missed call.

It now gets about 400-500 missed calls a day while on the booking front, there has been a 30 per cent rise since the introduction of the initiative a week ago.

According to Sakshi Vij, Executive Director at Carzonrent, the holding company of EasyCabs: “One of the best things is that customers do not have to waste a call as all they need is to just call and disconnect. We call them back”.

“Interactive Voice Response (telecom technology used by call centres) can be a pain, and a missed call is a simple way to overcome this. This also amounts to gaining the customer’s consent, enabling an executive to approach an interested customer rather than making a cold call,” said Sudarshan Dharmapuri, Vice-President, Product Management, at IMImobile, a provider of a mobile data platform and services to telecom companies.

Missed calls are now used as a tool to gauge the return on investments of marketing initiatives. The impact of an advertisement (hoarding or print) can be assessed based on the number of missed calls it gets, Dharmapuri adds.

For enterprises, however, missed calls incur cost on the technology and personnel front. For telecom operators it shouldn’t erode revenues as every missed call translates into a call or an SMS, said Carzonrent’s Vij.

“Developed countries such as the US, where call rates are shared by calling and receiving parties, don’t have this phenomena. As technology advances, we expect to see further innovation on this front,” COAI’s Mathews added.

In India, as the missed call phenomenon breaks out of the nascent stage, customers can expect to be pampered even further.

Published on February 05, 2014

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