After a day of relentless social media outrage over a customer asking for a different customer service executive because of his religion, Airtel has issued a statement calling the events that followed untrue and factually incorrect. Airtel, in a statement, said, “As is true for most customer care processes, the idea is to minimize the time taken to resolve any customer query. So when a customer writes in and one advisor is busy, the query gets assigned to the next available advisor automatically. Which is what happened with Shoaib and Gaganjot.”
It all began when Pooja Singh, an Airtel direct-to-home (DTH) customer expressed her displeasure on Twitter over the behaviour of a service engineer assigned by the company.
Shoaib, an Airtel representative, replied that the company would get back to her shortly.
However, the fact that the customer care executive appeared to be a Muslim prompted Singh – who has over 10,500 followers, including Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Singh Bagga – to demand a Hindu representative, for she had "no faith in his working ethics".
Airtel got in another staffer named Gaganjot to take the conversation with Singh forward. It is at this point all hell broke loose for Airtel and the social media outrage juggernaut started to roll.
In its defence, Airtel said, “Two things. First, a customer who made an outrageous request of preferring to talk to someone of a particular religious identity. Second, a realisation that this was to be given more importance and responded to before solving the actual service issue. But regardless, they continued to dedicatedly work towards ensuring that the case was progressing towards a solution,” adding, “The fact that Gaganjot didn’t check his colleague’s religious identity before taking up the case got read as ‘heeding to a discriminatory request’.”Twitter users, including former Jammu and Kashimir chief minister Omar Abdullah, alleged that Airtel has involved in bigotry.
"We are still trying to wrap our head around how one colleague responding on behalf of another is being misconstrued as our 'acceptance of discrimination'," the company said.
In response to the accusations of religious discrimination, the company said, "At Airtel, we never have and will never succumb to differentiating on the basis of religion, ethnicity or caste. We will continue to train our representatives to see the world without the filters of bias, of any kind."The statement was released by the official Airtel spokesperson but the name was withheld so that people "can read this free of religious and caste overtones."