The coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm the world at all levels. Both the economy and plife are facing major disruption as cities go under lockdowns and infections from the deadly virus loom.
People are losing lives by the thousands and are urged to stay indoors. Everything seems to be at stake and that includes employment and education too.
The extraordinary situation is also creating extraordinary expectations from consumers of different products and services.
People are expecting relief from all businesses they interact with on a daily basis, such as goods manufacturers, food businesses, utility companies, and more importantly, the cellular and internet service providers.
With work- and study-from-home trends gaining momentum, the development is sparking a new IT challenge: to work or study remotely, people are heavily relying on their home and mobile internet connections, a need the global telecom giants have realized and are proactively addressing.
In some countries, telcos are offering free bundles and special work-from-home offers while others are providing free access to learning websites and resources.
In Pakistan, however, we’re yet to see how telecom sector responds to this rapid rise in data demand.
Just like individuals, businesses are also overwhelmed by how the situation is unfolding and are exploring ways to facilitate customers in every way they can. So are telcos.
Today, #ShameOnTelecomSector has been a top trend on twitter with people comparing measures of other countries’ telcos to facilitate people in coronavirus crisis with Pakistan’s.
The approach, however, appears to be a bit harsh and something that could have been the second step after first demanding the cellular operators to provide them with some relief.
Responding to the trend, Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim said in a tweet, “Disappointing to see lack of awareness and appreciation for the telecom industry’s heartfelt support in time of the Covid19 crisis. We are all working hard to keep essential services like phone and the Internet functional under this lockdown. This is not easy work and requires everyone to be united.”
— Aamir Hafeez Ibrahim (@aamir_ibrahim01) March 26, 2020
“In addition to ensuring business continuity, special offers and promotions have been put in place for the last one week that target employees, students and the financially-challenged while working from home. We have CSR project in place to support those who cannot afford telecom services and target them for relief. We are also sending care packages and food supplies to thousands of daily-wage workers under our sustainability program,” he added.
Telenor CEO Irfan Wahab Khan in a tweet said, “Telenor Pakistan is playing an actively [sic] role and has changed its network name to ‘StayHome’, offered free WhatsApp, providing free first on-net call of the day, extended recharge validity, economized balance sharing, enabled a faster self-service customer care platform, made digital recharge available, and is working on many new offers. We are also working closely with the authorities for information dissemination, creating awareness and guiding the people in distress.”
— Irfan Wahab Khan (@irfanwahabkhan) March 26, 2020
We do have some examples where Pakistani telcos have responded to the developing demands.
For instance, Jazz announced work-from-home packages for business customers. Telenor Pakistan is now offering unlimited WhatsApp. And Ufone is offering unlimited on-net calls on its super card. But people are expecting more and how the local telecom players respond to the demand is yet to be seen.
In the present situation, the challenge that businesses are facing is two-edged: they have to ensure business continuity in the lockdown situation where people, including their employees, are staying at home and major disruptions in their operations; and to meet the high expectations of the consumers.
But, whatever be the situation, businesses have a responsibility in this unprecedented crisis and they’re expected to respond to the changing customer expectations more effectively.
After all, it’s the same people who have made these businesses succeed in Pakistan. This is the time for them to give back to the society that has made them what they are.