A Trip to TSP Store: Why Employee Engagement Matters to Customers


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Here’s a little story about how I walked out of the Telco Service Provider  (TSP) store for the last time. My loyalty to the brand had assumed so many things about how much I matter to them. But, in reality, at the moment of truth, my response was –  Timely Resolution? Uncheck. Meeting Expectation?  Uncheck.

A Snapshot of My Customer Experience

On a Wednesday afternoon, about 3:30 p.m., I rushed to the nearest TSP store close to my office. This was a minor crisis – my TSP SIM had got corrupted, and I was feeling lost. As a business owner,  I was stuck up as I was unable to make few urgent payments via internet banking, as I was unable to authenticate the transfer with the OTP (one-time password) details that get shared on my mobile number. I had just announced a workshop, and we were losing out on the inquiries.  The list of To Do’s goes on…but you get the picture!

I drove to the TSP store, logged my complaint in the kiosk, collected my token and patiently waited for my turn to speak with the customer service representative. A  particular store television advertisement, which said “Walk out with a preactivated SIM“ caught my attention.

I was glad that in the next few minutes my woes would come to an end, and I could walk out the store with a working mobile number.

 But, the RUDE SHOCK – the customer service rep informed that the preactivated SIM was only for new customers, and it would take 24 hours for an existing loyal customer’s card to be activated.

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I threatened I would walk out and start subscribing to their competitor services. My request (believe me I was literally pleading) to speak with the store manager was ignored. All my efforts went in vain. I only kept hearing the pre-recorded statement being communicated by the store representatives – “Your card will be activated by 4.00 pm tomorrow.”

I felt cheated and frustrated that this is what I get for being loyal for last 15+ years. I felt TSP has got carried away with their phenomenal growth in India, and are busy only acquiring new customers and have stopped paying attention to the service side of its business.

As I walked out of the TSP store feeling helpless and in a foul mood –  I overheard the conversation between the representative who attended to me her colleague –  empathizing with me with a series of OH! POOR LADY sounds “Our hands are tied. Earlier we could get it activated in 5 mins with the veto power a manager had, and the normal course would have taken a couple of hours, but unfortunately now the new rule is 24 hours. “

As the customer service representative observed I overheard the conversation, she came running  and said “Sorry. I am unable do anything to solve your problem.”

“It’s not your fault,” I replied. And, I left.

After Thoughts: The Value And Power Of Employee Engagement

I thought about the day-to-day grind of the front line employees. As much as I was helpless, they too were because complex processes bound them.

Perhaps, at any other time or day or if I had any other issue, my experience may have been different, but I can’t know that for sure. The warm smile of the employee that greeted me at the store did not mean anything to me. My response was based on what happened at that moment: the brand placed their practices and processes above my concerns. The unempowered employees were in no position to go out of the way to resolve my problem.

The shame of it is, with unempowered employees and when process are set to ignore customer-centric impulses and focus on company-centric results, everyone suffers. The employee engagement is no more about fulfilling acts of care, service, helpfulness, instant gratification and more about dispassionate business items like process, policies, revenue,  and internal politics.

So, make no mistake, an engaged employee is a crucial element of the customer experience. When the employee experience suffers, so does the customer experience. With empowered employees,  the customer engagement and experience improve.

The Only Permanent Fix: Start Your Employee Engagement Engines – Give Unique Employee Experience To Get Ultimate Customer Experience

The consultant in me got thinking and reminded me of the concept of Service-Profit Chain described by James L. Heskett and his co-authors twenty years ago still, holds good. The gist of what they propose is any company by investing in talent, technology, and training will be able to provide better customer satisfaction, which in turn results in higher profit.

An organization’s  competitive advantage can’t be established by their market share or the Advertising and PR spend. But, in gathering insight to make the right decisions on time throughout the organization.

In any organization, the front line staff are recipients of unsolicited feedback from customers, an insight no customer satisfaction survey can provide. They can share what makes the customer smile most and what makes them upset, what they say about competitor products or services and what are their unmet needs. This kind of vital information shouldn’t be ignored!

To set the Service-Profit Chain in motion, ask for employee feedback and take the pulse of the employees with frequent VOE (Voice of Employee) surveys.  Don’t forget to ask “why” as well as “what is,” “what if,” “what wows,” and “what works” questions and be ready to listen to the answers, analyze, share and take necessary action.

It is not about giving employees tools and technology to excel, but it’s about autonomy and ownership of their role and a sense of purpose, making them your true brand ambassadors. It’s about recognizing and rewarding employee excellence, about anything that influences employees’ effectiveness to take pride in their work.

That’s when engaged employees give an organization a significant advantage: they make employees and customers want to come back.

This article was first posted in Marketers Touchpoint

Vidya Priya Rao
Vidya Priya Rao (PhD), is the Founder and Director of Innovatus Marketers Touchpoint LLP, a customer experience, design thinking and marketing consulting firm based in Mumbai, India. She is a design thinking/service design thinking decoder and promotes a proven approach to build a design-led innovation culture. She is also a visiting faculty at leading B-Schools in India. She is an Executive, Marketing & Sales Coach, Trainer, and Keynote Speaker.


  1. As an educator, I conduct courses in the domain of services marketing.

    One key aspect of services marketing is Employee Empowerment. Often, organizations set up SOPs to safeguard themselves against white collar crimes that create inconvenience to many customers. Unfortunately, having different procedures to manage different set of customers becomes unmanageable when the organization has really large customer base. I’d call this aa collateral damage.

    TSPs should remember that new customer acquisition cost is 6x than that of retaining existing customers. And they should have a “tatkal” service for their premium customers.


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