Sun Direct to spread sunshine among subscribers

MUMBAI: Sun Direct has decided to go the extra mile for its customers. The DTH provider will set up customer experience centres, by the name ‘Sunshine’, across four major cities in South India.

Speaking about the endeavour, Sun Direct managing director Mahesh Kumar says: “We want to facilitate better customer service. ‘Sunshine’ will act as a service hub for customers, who can walk into any service centre to resolve their queries, right from recharging packs to resolving issues related to set top boxes (STBs).”

Kumar admits digitisation is also responsible for Sun Direct’s increased focus on customer needs. “We have to expand our reach if we want to compete with cable operators post digitisation,” he says candidly.

The DTH player will launch 500 centres in the south, with already around 15 to 20 centres being opened on a weekly basis. “Since 85 per cent of our customer base is in the south, we are focusing on the region and not expanding in any other region,” says Kumar, defending the choice of region.

So what’s the objective of these ‘Sunshine’ stores? “It’s a key movement in making strong inroads into smaller towns, where a multitude of services and solutions can be offered under a single roof.  We are sure that this last mile customer touch point will be a game changer in DTH adaption across small towns in India, thereby ensuring a higher level of customer satisfaction,” explains Kumar.  

Technicians will provide service facilities at these stores “to ensure that quality servicing of our equipment happens with minimum down time,” he adds.

He goes on to elaborate that there will be service engineers attached to each centre and “Complaints captured through our call centres will be passed to these service engineers or attached to the ‘Sunshine’ centres, where they will be resolved.”

Based on a franchisee model, Sunshine stores will be set up by Sun Direct in partnership with local players from the service industry, who will attend to customers’ concerns based on norms prescribed by the company.

Asked about the revenue model, Kumar says: “It will be on commission basis and will depend on the business each store generates. There is no fixed model since a better location will mean a better ROI. We are anyways not looking at it as a revenue generating business.”  

According to him, the choice of a franchisee model is because: “We plan to set up 500 such centres, and if we had to do it ourselves, it would need more employees. Also, it would be difficult to handle such volumes ourselves. So we are instead encouraging people who are interested in spending the money to set up the stores.”

To start with, Sun Direct will support the ‘Sunshine’ stores till such time a minimum ROI is established. “Investment will be done by the partners and we will be giving them branding support,” says Kumar.

The store creative, designed by JWT, will have a standard format, with store dimensions ranging between 150 and 300 sq ft, depending on the requirements of the specific town. However, “the stores will have a standard colour code and they will be similar in look and feel,” says Kumar.

He points out they are choosing such locations which can be easily accessed by customers. “Also, through this, we will attend to all customer needs like providing them all means of recharge, addressing their complaints related to STBs and also provide an instant swap of boxes. The store is more like a Sun Direct store which is focused on post acquisition and not on adding new customers,” he emphasises.

Others in the business question the initiative, saying that Sun Direct's focus should be elsewhere.

Says Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal: "We had started a service like this long back, but stopped it later. The reeason being simple: you don't expect your customers to carry the STBs to the service centers. Customers can register complaints through the call centres and we can reach out to them anywhere to resolve issues. Also there are several ways to recharge packs."

On its part, Sun Direct says it is all part of its endeavour to improve the customer experience. Earlier this month, it revamped its customer care portal www.my.sundirect.in in a bid to provide ease of use to existing and new subscribers.

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