How to energize PTCL?

For the last few months we have been reading a lot of different news items about PTCL and its lack of quality services. People are getting frustrated due to lack of proper customer care support and now they are trying to get rid of their frustration by writing letters to the Chairman of PTCL and expressing him their agony.

Couple of weeks back we reported a that Etisalat had withheld three installments to be paid to the government of Pakistan. On the other hand the work force of PTCL is also not satisfied from the attitude of the company (and its management). Few days back, protests were being held in front of the PTCL Headquarters in Islamabad in spite of the Ramadan. The workers were demanding the high wages and other incentives. Dozens of the workers and their union leaders were arrested.

They demanded the release of the due rest allowance of the 8,742 New Compensation Package Grade employees and also demanded Ramadan Bonus of Rs. 25,000 before 15th of Ramadan. Further demands included the 20% raise in salary as ordered by the Government.

Finally, these protests came to an end last week as PTCL issued the Ramadan bonuses and 20% raise in salary to its employees.

According to an internal report, PTCL has lost more then 300,000 customers due to its poor services and tough competition from the other players especially the cellular companies since 2007, as quoted by an official at company.

Now, It is no secret that even China Mobile is taking keen interest to invest in the land line market and the President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has offered the investment opportunity to China Mobile, which has frustrated Etisalat.

All this has shown that PTCL is facing a dead end in the following ways:

  • The net-profit of the company is continuously decreasing and the prime company no more remains the golden one.
  • A dispute of payment and transfer of ownership to Etisalat is also not helping the management to focus on the performance of the company.
  • Cellular companies are very hard to compete with. With state-of-the art equipment, dedicated workforce and visionary leadership, Cellular companies are moving ahead in more comprehensive way. On the other hand, PTCL is facing dozens of obstacles in its way to success.
  • Decrease in the number customers with the passage of time.
  • Although, Ufone is a subsidiary of PTCL and is doing well. However, PTCL should offer such packages which may leave others behind.

As a well-wisher, I am proposing the following steps to come out of the crisis:

  • There should be a concept of PTCL Family network, which should have one rate for the entire gate. Under this family, one should be offered to call at the same rate on the family network either from PTCL, Vfone or Ufone. Extra connections should be offered free to all Ufone consumers.
  • Like SCO (Special Communications Organizations), this family network should be given preference in advertising. There should be one ad layout and communication for all like the super Ghanta package at the lowest possible rates.
  • As the employees were recruited with the push and favors of other people there should be a cleaning program and one person should be allowed from one family in the company, others should be terminated.  This will help the company to revive with better pay packages and incentives.
  • There should be more incentives for best performing workers and  poor performing workers should be given an easy way out.
  • Above all, customer support should be focused with immediate actions. With huge product portfolio, the only reason customer refrains from getting on board with PTCL is the after sale support. For example, I personally have PTCL’s EVO service with me for last 2 months now. But I really don’t know its support number. I once tried this number given on EVO packing, however, I was not able to get connected to any CSR. So the point is after sale support is the main hurdle between PTCL and customers.

If all this could make any difference then it will be again the time of PTCL, like in the pre open era of competition in Pakistan.

  • Naeem , I agree that cellular companies are giving hard time to PTCL. But contrary to your opinion about PTCL, I feel services are now improving. I have been using PTCL-landline 6 years back and I unsubscribed it just because I was OK with cellular phone service.3 years later , my family shifted to VPTCL because of flat rates/OR FREE CALLING from VPTCL to VPTCL numbers. It’s because of battery problem as VTPCL goes down during log hours of load-shedding. So proving it unreliable. Recently I evaluated Broadband services and again thought to re-evaluate PTCL-Landline for broadband as many of my colleagues have now shifted to PTCL broadband. Surprisingly, I called 0800 8 0800 and got the phone and broadband activated in just 48 hours. I never expected such a fast customer service from PTCL. I think things are improving in PTCL. (By the way, I live in Karachi so people in other cities might disagree with me and they are the best judge of their localities)

  • PTCL faces an inherent issue of leadership; currently it is being led by a belligerent knee jerk manager, who believes he can either bully or ‘kitchen cabinet’ his decisions which normally he dreams of a night before.

    Four years is long time in a Telecom Industry “restructuring”; giant s like BT were turned around in lesser periods. PTCL senior management is full of mediocre managers (cannot refer to them as leaders). The C-suite is busy trying to play up to its bosses in Abu Dhabi/Dubai by raising red herrings of GoP trying to bully them and other self created seasonal issues.

    Etisalat which has management share holding pays itself million of dollars each year in “Management Consulting fee” which in industry norm is pure out unacceptable; Than they have McKinsey and BearingPoint’s hired to do further consulting; the VSS came and went, similarly McKinsey submitted a report on restructuring (it cost millions); now they don’t have the grit to implement any, simply because of pure incompetence;

    We are unlucky, we have squandered a national asset to bad managers; Worthwhile to note that same Etisalat is doing a sterling job in Saudi and other countries, it is PTCL which Etisalat management has gifted poor managers who have no clue; even time has not taught them any lesson.
    The GoP needs to discuss this issue with the senior management of Etisalat and get good leaders out here, there might still be time to save the Titanic which third tear management team of Etisalat has created of PTCL.

  • We all wish PTCL well and are truly saddened seeing it become Titanic. There are many good thoughts put up by Naeem, and I must say that despite good occasional / incidental response one may have had from PTCL, customer service needs a huge uplift to come at par with any modern “customer-oriented” organization. Just putting up a slogan or have a large team of CSRs (which doesn’t seem authorized to take many decision on adjustments, billing disputes, etc.) is a waste of customer’s time. In short, “Empowerment” is first key element that is generally missing from the lowest level of line-men / CSRs all the way up to the EVPs. Action Item: Empower / Delegate authority (operational as well as financial) and follow up with pre-defined accountability matrix.

    The second undisputed element taking PTCL down is the functioning of its HR department which, in its general entirety, is not cutting the mustard; it is unable to recruit, manage, groom, and retain quality people. For a good resource inducted directly or through advertising, present in PTCL for long or joined recently, the HR is unable to critically assess it and use the fullest potential of that resource to the best benefit of the company. The result is continuous demoralization among employees from junior officers to GMs/EVPs. When people are frustrated, insecure about their jobs, not enjoying because they are not the members of the clans and the clubs within, the company is not apt to flourish and grow. Action Item: Restructure and Replace PTCL HR Team with true HR experts.

    Third critical factor is lack of appropriate revenue assurance. There is revenue leakage in many instances, which results in fudged accounting reports. Action Item: Put pressure on Revenue Assurance to deliver their responsibility.

    This cumulative situation is indicative of lack of a visionary on the top seat and lack of inculcating the culture of holding the responsible party accountable for sinking the ship; this must be amended with immediate effect.

  • After trying to get my landline restored for the last 4 months inspite of paying all my bills I finally gave up and requested for a disconnection. It has been two months already on the disconnection request. The bill keeps coming but no service.

    The government should intervene and energise the company by removing the management. Pakistan has already suffered enough losses.

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