BSNL is reviving the user interface mechanism to listen more closely to subscriber complaints about the quality of service on fixed and mobile phones.

With its mobile user base crossing the 1 million mark in the Chennai Circle alone and with an equal number of landline connections (about 40 per cent of them hooked to broadband) to maintain, Chennai Telephones is finding merit in revisiting the “Open House” practice of having a direct interface with customers once in a while.

The basic idea of conducting such Open House sessions is to establish direct channels of communications with customers and also to enable telecom staff to appreciate and evaluate the customer difficulties from a user perspective, a Chennai Telephones official said. These meetings, which are presided over by a senior official, are intended to disseminate information of development activities and various new schemes as well as to address complaints or suggestions of general nature to improve the telecom services in an area. The Open House, however, differs from a telecom adalat, which is a forum to escalate any complaint that remains unaddressed.

According to a BSNL official, though open house meetings have been a time-honoured practice (predating even the formation of the BSNL) the concept was fading away of late with the focus of BSNL's marketing attention shifting to the high-value customers.

The old-fashioned open house meets had been steadily losing ground to interfaces with the commercially important customers, an official said.

The decision to revive the practice appears to be as much a customer outreach initiative as a follow-up to a directive to service providers from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to hold at least one workshop or open house session in each licensed area annually along with a consumer advocacy group.

TRAI has also sought an action-plan for 2010-11 from service providers.

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