Delivering cell phones to a billion customers- the doorman doubles as front receptionist

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When you are trying to serve a billion customers your wireless retail model needs to change. And that is what I found as I was getting my laptop wireless connect USB stick activated in India. In the US unless there is an iPhone4 getting launched there are very few customers at the cell phone store. But in India, despite several strong wireless players in the market there  could be 20 people on an average waiting to sort out issues ranging from plan questions to billing issues which seems to be as mysterious for the consumer as in other world markets.

I walked in to the store with my laptop hoping to get the thing connected immediately but was quickly stopped by a businesslike doorman in uniform who had a high tech console on the wall. I had to answer a set of rapid questions and the doorman went on punching some buttons on the console to log the purpose of my visit. Since the doorman seemed more on top of  customer issues and FAQ's (he was unfazed at my laptop connect card request) than the usual call center person, I meekly took the printout he handed me with my wait number and issues mentioned. Soon thereafter, my number was called and everything went smoothly. The laptop connection would need a physical address verification in keeping with India's efforts at security and would start up within 48 hours and it actually did.

The doubling of the doorman as initial receptionist sort of amazed me because here is an individual who is normally not put on marketing and customer facing tasks. But I guess if you have to deal with a billion customers – you need all hands on deck!