When Brands Fail Their Loyalists : Dilemmas of a Delhi Metro ‘fan’

Aren’t we taught in marketing classes the importance of customer loyalty, a sort of holy grail for brand managers. And yes I firmly to believe that many brands have loyalists who are not only regular users but sort of evangelists. However ever wonders what happens if this brand betrays this very ardent fan!

I recently took a flight into delhi with a connecting train, A timely arrival and a 4 hrs:15 mins gap between the two prompted me to steal a quick meeting with a friend. The friend offered to pick me up and offered to drop me to a metro station in Gurgaon from where I would take the newly started service all the way to the railway station. An ardent believer that we all should travel by the metro due to all the usual benefits ( both tangible – speed, comfort, certainity and the emotional ones – public transit, non polluting etc), I was thrilled at the idea of travelling by the much awaited service between central delhi and Gurgaon – two days after its commencement.

A good lunch meeting and my friend dropped me at the Gurgaon Station. Train started promptly and reached made its way into south delhi and was headed to get me to the railway station 25 mins ahead of my train’s departure. Suddenly at Udyog Bhavan – some 3 stops before my destination – came an announcement of a short delay in service – usually such delays are 2-3 mins, However for the next 15 mins every 2 mins a ‘short’ delay was announced. Later they announced ‘that’ a technical failure had occured and we should wait to hear further information. By then it was too late to catch my train and hence I ended up missing it.

I got out of the station dejected and asked a staff member if I could file a complaint to claim compensation for the inconvenience caused – as my train ticket was wasted and I needed to plan an alternative journey. He provided me the complaint book after some ado. Now the next step was to go the bus stand and take a bus to my final destination. I thought to myself, the fastest way to reach the ISBT ( bus stand) was by the metro as well. By then the service had somewhat resumed.

But I was so disgusted that I got out called a relative and asked them to arrange a car to drop me to the bus terminus. When they said ‘metro is the best way to get there’ I said “I know, but right now I feel betrayed by the Delhi Metro, They made me miss a train/plane for the first time in life. I no longer can belong to the exclusive club of people who have never missed a train or a flight. ”

I confess I am still a Delhi Metro ‘fan’ but can I recommend it with the same conviction to people now that I always did. The heart says yes of course, the mind says Don’t be stupid. Mr Brand Manager are you listening!

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Author: harshT

Assistant Professor at the Missouri School of Journalism

5 thoughts on “When Brands Fail Their Loyalists : Dilemmas of a Delhi Metro ‘fan’”

  1. We can have the best machines working for us, but reality is that even the best machines sometimes break down! Ditto with brands…

    As already mentioned about the Delhi Metro helps lakhs of people reach their destination on time saving money as well as time. Unfortunately you were caught in a situation where it did not!

    However I must add that good brands make sure that they reach out to the dissatisfied customers to earn back their trust! I hope the Delhi Metro comes good on it!

    1. Eagle ,
      I ‘wasted’ 2 hrs trying to haggle with the customer service at the station to get a complaint book. I finally wrote a complaint. I have never heard back. If it was a private operator, I perhaps could have been compensated as i missed an onward connection. The system failure was reported in the newspapers.
      I haven’t heard back from DMRC. I have always heard back from Indian railways whenever I have complained.
      Unfortunately, DMRC has become fairly complacent under the perceived glory of its limited success.
      For instance, why does the Website not even offer service updates on an ongoing basis. Or even speaking about more basic stuff, feeder transportation remains so poor. In peak times ticket queues at the station are endless.
      Of course the metro is used by lakhs of people because it is better than the buses and the autos – but are those your benchmarks.

      best
      h

  2. oh God !within 10days of your missing Shatabdi ,Abir missed it due to failed Gurgaon Delhi route ,he was also in metro for its speed. Poor he ,missed his fathers birthday party . make a harrased metro group ,Harsj!

  3. heh heh… welcome to reality. All brands are a best effort affair. They try and do things, the good ones try and make up for mistake (and more importantly, learn from them). The bad ones ignore their mistakes, the really bad ones, ignore feedback given by their ardent fans and loyalists.

    As a simple rule, I believe there are three chances to be given. Till that time, I am highly intense in giving my feedback, expecting the service that I am paying for. If the company still fails, … too bad.. my business goes somewhere else. (and if I am unable to do that, because of a lack of better options, at the least my loyalty goes away.. ). .

    recently, I had a bad experience with Kingfisher Airlines. Their first response to my feedback was to say sorry and I was happy. Then they screwed up again, and this time I got even more upset. The good thing about the company turned out to be a department called ‘guest commitment’ which works like a quality check on their own customer grievance cell. Hmm.. I was impressed. If a company can have that much value attached to keeping its commitment to the customer, I am sure they have a chance to make up for their mistakes.

    So the simple sermon is that, I will really like to know what Delhi Metro does to the feedback they got from you.

    Cheers
    akshay

    ps. I find Ankur’s comment to be rather distasteful, India is where he’s probably seen a thousand good things happen. I wonder what ratio he has for giving credit to India as against this crib. Grow up man… learn to respect, work to improve, and then you will have a right to crib.

  4. Harsht,

    Sad to hear that, it happens once in a while and in your life sometimes you are so unlucky and when this kind of things happens, it pisses you off .
    We all know, metro services help millions of people to travel fast,save time ,money and lot more. However in India Delhi Metro is the best, then comes Kolkata vintage metro service, a dirty and old steel metro however it full fill it main purpose.

    Now , Bangalore metro is going to be the best metro service in coming year in India, I have seen the project and other details of it .
    And another one coming on Hyderabad metro , the work has already started in Hyderabad , as I’m working for it trust me .. it will take you to next generation .

    And by the way, thanks for sharing your story, I’ll make sure I don’t give even a slight chance of missing my further plans due to these kind of things.
    And its India, anything can happen at anytime .
    For example , normal time from my home to airport ( Bangalore city) in rush hour takes 1.30hrs , I had traveled more then 100 times , one day I left home @ 3.30 pm only, and my flight dep was @ 6.50 pm . It was no rush hour,no festive weeks,no rally nothing,just a normal day, but guess what? I missed my flight. Same route , Same car, no stopping , nothing . Took 3.25hrs to reach airport covering just 45 kms. Now that’s what you call insane Indian traffic , or whatever you call it , I was never able to understand why it took so long !

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