In times like these, we need to be particularly thankful for brands that get their act together and put people first.

Living through a lockdown How services can make our lives easier by being dependable
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 22:38
Written by  Sandhya Menon


Sometimes, things that we think will impact our lives the least are the ones that are life-savers. Brands, for instance, especially during these tough times. There are very few things I am brand-conscious about, and it is easy to buy my loyalty – a brand just needs to place people first.

The last three months have been unlike anything we’ve experienced, and I know that every single one of us – irrespective of age or location – feels the same way. But it has been particularly hard on the domestic workers, watchmen etc. who keep our lives running. They are faced with problems which we could not even imagine. For instance, it never struck me that recharging a phone will be next to impossible for my house-help during the lockdown. Even if she had the money, with all shops shut and no smartphone, she could not recharge her phone. That’s where innovative solutions like the Airtel Thanks App are really useful. In light of the lockdown, Airtel introduced four new ways to recharge that didn’t require a mobile shop. Watch this video to see how Airtel did it.

Thanks to the app, I was able to recharge even her non-Airtel phone number. It was a simple and yet thoughtful move from Airtel. It felt good to use a brand which understood that communication was what would get us through the lockdown, and made sure that we all stay connected no matter what.

I could feel the impact in my own life too. When the lockdown first hit, my mind went through all the things I might need to put in place. Essentials. Bill payments, insurance payments etc. Thankfully, I knew I could do those things from the app itself. I felt like a sorted adult. The one thing I didn’t really think of was internet speeds, and how that could keep our lives peaceful.  

The first couple of weeks seemed idyllic, what with the family being together for extended periods of time after many years, with no one rushing off to work or school. And all of us were being extra careful not to step on each other’s toes. But that kind of good behaviour can rarely last forever. Especially when five of us (my parents included) are locked in a house.

Soon enough, all of us realised we all needed alone time. So, we took time off in different corners of the house for the entertainment preferences we individually had, or to just spend some time by ourselves getting over all the excess family time. Naturally enough, all of us got onto our devices and leaned heavily on the internet when we were by ourselves – to watch shows, browse social media or chat with friends and other family members. How happy I was to be an Airtel customer as we had got free subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar and even access to live TV on the app.

Almost instantly, there was a change in the way we interacted. Everyone was more relaxed, more open, and generally nicer to each other. This honestly wouldn’t have been possible without the seamless internet connectivity available to us. Five of us on various devices at various times. Apart from the odd day when speeds were a bit slow, by and large, the last two months we have had no issues with our internet. Even if the power went out and we did not have wi-fi, Airtel’s mobile network saved the day.

I recognise and acknowledge the privilege that allows me to be able to say that being able to get on the internet helped us stay peacefully together in one house. But I also have to acknowledge that it really is the honest truth. My mother is able to watch her crime shows, my father his YouTube recipes, and the rest of us, whatever it is that we do – video calls for work, college reunions, online classes etc.

One of the ways brands can win over customers is with better customer service. Whether it is prompt response on Twitter, or trouble-shooting calls and polite follow-up calls, I appreciate good customer care during these tough times. In times like the last few months, I am particularly thankful to Airtel for extending their help whenever I needed it. My father wanted to switch over to Airtel and the new SIM was delivered to our house. I never expected this from a telecom brand but then again, that’s what good customer service looks like.

Sandhya Menon is an independent writer based in Bengaluru. She writes for TNM Brand Studio on how brands impact our lives.