Saturday, October 24, 2009

Customer service initiatives: Who cares?

This piece is based on a real experience that my husband and I underwent on a Saturday morning earlier this month with our bank.

It was an important visit and we chose a Saturday to visit the bank that had processed our home loan.

We reached the bank office, apprehensive that there would be a heavy crowd waiting to meet the bank officers.

Running up two steps at a time we reached the first floor and were disappointed to see the main door firmly closed. There was no notice of closure, no security guard who could update us – absolutely no communication of any sort. A banner on the ground floor clearly announced that the bank to be open on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm

Soon a crowd of customers gathered, frustrated and angry.

One of them suggested that we call their call center and when we did, all 3 or 4 of us got a standard reply that all branches of this bank were closed in Bangalore on that day because…

….because all employees were attending a special workshop on “improving customer service”. What followed was bizarre. We threatened the call center supervisor with dire consequences etc., and the supervisor actually decided to drive up to our branch from the main office to meet us and address our concerns.

Thank you lady. That was a terrific gesture.

This bank is the largest bank in the home loan sector in India. Why and how did they miss this important communication update?

They have technology at their disposal.

A simple text message (SMS) to all Bangalore customers could have been sent. Social media like Twitter could have been leveraged effectively to tweet out the update.

Are businesses in India are even thinking of effectively leveraging social media as part of their customer service strategy.

Internet Banking is pretty evolved in the urban regions and heavily used. A message could have been flashed on the home page. They could have included an update in the monthly account statement. Instead, all efforts were focused on organising an important customer service workshop – to improve customer experience.

The twist doesn’t end here. Of the 100-odd customers who visited the branch that morning, nearly 85% of them just shook their head, smiled foolishly at their discomfort and went away with plans to come back next week.

Does the Indian consumer really expect improved customer experience and did this bank really need a workshop on improving customer service?

Who cares?

1 comment:

  1. Customer expectations in India at a very low level. Only some Indians who have International exposure expect "Customer Service".

    Others as you said, will come next week and if their problem is solved, would be happy and forget what happened "that" saturday.

    And even if one chooses to switch the organizations, he will get similiar treatment in other organizations also.

    Much of this is attributed to "demand and supply" and lack of choices with customers in India. ICICI and HDFC know "where else will you go" and I am sure you are victim of one of these two.

    I think it will still take a decade or so for customer expectations to mature.