SSGC'S FOCUS: CUSTOMER CONVENIENCE

Service with a smile

SYED IMRAN AHMED, Manager Publications &
INAYATULLAH ISMAIL, Manager, Media Relations (SSGC)
July 03 - July 09, 2006

It is the end of the March and Mrs. Salahuddin has several utility bills to pay. She has been standing in long queues at a bank branch nearby to pay her utility bills. Her arthritis bothering her ever more, she has been finding it really difficult to cope with the problem.

While leaving her flat in North Nazimabad to go trough the ordeal, her neighbor informed her about the SSGC's new Customer Facilitation Centre that has opened its doors right behind their flat in the bustling North Nazimabad area. The neighbour in fact takes her along despite her insistence that she would be able to find the place on her own: "I would do it for my mother" she says, "so why not for you - at least just once?"

Mrs. Salahuddin arrives at SSGC's Customer Facilitation Centre or CFC and is immediately impressed. She feels totally relaxed and stress-free in the comfortable surroundings. 'This is great,' she tells the staff and turning around to her neighbour she comments: 'No standing in a long queue and the staff here is also quite courteous."

Now Mrs. Salahuddin is a regular customer and a big fan of CFC. Whether it is to pay her gas bill or register a complaint or seek a clarification, Mrs. Salahuddin knows she will get exemplary service. 'I wish all other utility companies could provide the same facility. My life would be so much easier,' she muses.

'SERVICE WITH A SMILE'

Mrs. Salahuddin is just one of many consumers who have been availing the facilities provided at SSGC's Customers Facilitations Centers or CFCs opened so far in various cities of Sindh and Balochistan. Providing world class service is what SSGC management has set as a top priority, and in doing so it has been trying its best to cultivate a customer-friendly culture defined by the phrase 'Service with a Smile'.

In fact, it is this very 'Service with a Smile' that the management says drives all actions in the company with respect to the customers. The establishment of CFCs is one of the many initiatives taken by SSGC to raise service standards through the use of advanced information technology and online systems.

The clean, functionally oriented CFCs, connected online with each other and the Head Office are strategically located in the different areas of Karachi as well as in other towns and cities. In Karachi, the CFCs are situated in the densely populated areas of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Shahrah-e-Faisal, Defence Housing Authority, I. I. Chundrigar Road, Orangi Town, Malir Town, Landhi, Korangi, North Karachi, and North Nazimabad. Two more centres are in the process of being established in Federal B. Area and Gulistan-e-Jauhar. In addition, CFCs provide customer-friendly service in Quetta, the Hub industrial area, Larkana, Sukkur and Hyderabad.

The company is also working towards setting up CFCs in Ziarat, Pishin, Sibi, Gwadar, Thatta and other areas of Balochistan with relatively larger population. A major criterion in setting up CFCs, from a customer's point of view, is easy accessibility for customers and close proximity to residential and business areas.

ONE-WINDOW OPERATION

A basic objective behind establishing CFC's was to provide "one-window operation" to customers and address different needs at the same location. Apart from the usual queries or complaints, CFCs also solicit customer feedback through and provide real time bill verification or rectification. Every CFC is equipped with Customer Suggestion Boxes and forms to fill and drop in them. Every Customer Suggestion closely reviewed and circulated among the senior managers and sent regularly to the Managing Director's office.

A relatively new addition to the facilities provided at SSGC CFCs is the NADRA Bill Payment Machine. These state-of-the-art kiosks accept payment of bills in cash from customers who only need to register themselves once. Verification of the customer is done by means of their National Identity Card or NIC, which makes the facility almost fool-proof.

SSGC had the distinction of being the first utility company in Pakistan to place NADRA's Bill Payment Machines for the convenience of their customers. Apart from speeding up the bill collection process even for the smallest of customers, the kiosks alleviate the need for them to stand in long queues at banks or post offices.

STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY

While other utility companies may in their own way be offering convenience to their customers, at SSGC that is essentially the "name of the game". It is part of the company's stated mission. That is why the company is focusing its energies on ensuring that the customer gets top-notch service. SSGC has also been quick to embrace state-of-the-art technology wherever possible and offering more options too. The payment of Gas Bills is therefore possible through the Internet, at Call Centres, ATMs and Orix Points of Sale (PoS). SSGC partner banks such as ABL and MBC facilitate customers by placing Drop Boxes for the payment of Utility Bills through cheques.

Another major development from a technology stand-point has been the phased introduction of highly advanced and convenient "Prepaid Gas Meters" at homes, enabling customers to manage their gas consumption at their own convenience using a rechargeable 'Energy Card'. As the facility becomes more widespread it will further reduce the length of the queues at bank pay windows for customers and eliminate meter reading, reduce bill-processing time and also ensure better cash flows.