Saturday, February 02, 2008

Now which one is customer intimacy

Comparisons can be odious I agree, but sometimes necessary too, as they happen without any effort and results are starkly different. Last week I had to visit two bank branches, one of State Bank of India and another of ICICI Bank and the experiences were so different.

At ICICI Bank, I encountered a queuing machine with very confusing options, and as I stood trying to figure out how to get a token to the correct service desk, a smart looking lad appears, asks me what service I require, quickly punches a few buttons on the machine and hands me a token. Before I say thanks, he asks me whether I need a credit card. I say no, thanks. Lifetime free, he says (What a positioning!). I reach the counter, finish the address update business and head out. On my way out, again confronted by a girl, do I need a credit card.So, ergo, I declare I have one issued by ICICI and hope I would be able to peacefully, she snaps back, "which one is that- Gold?, we can give you Platinum, Titanium". I step out of the bank without making an eye contact with anyone else so as to avoid any more sales pitch, and once out, I am so relaxed. There are quite a few form holding folks standing near the ATM, so I decided I do not need money now!

Next day I go to State Bank of India to check an update on an account transfer. I get into a branch full of people, but in about five minutes I am out of the branch after successfully collecting the pass book. My overall experience is very pleasant. (Infact, the branch manager of the previous branch had even made an unsuccessful attempt to convince me to continue the account with his branch) Ten years back one found it so difficult to open an account with this bank.Today I felt welcome. What a transformation.

My only problem with the PSU banks is with their marketing.In their quest to emphasize on history alone, they take a slightly tired, old, positioning. It is time for them to show how meaningful the bank is to people early in their life, not to pensioners alone. It is clearly a case of brand management function lagging behind. Have you seen the latest Canara Bank commercials, for instance?


3 comments:

Shrinidhi Hande said...

This is what happened with me:
Last week, I wanted to buy some shares as they were available at very attractive prices. It was 12.30.I had to deposit some cash into my account-if I drop it in ATM it will take days-so I decided to go to Bank and deposit so that it will be credited immediately so that I can transfer money to my demat account and do trading...

I went in person to bank but was asked to keep the money inside an envelope and drop in the box...I told I need it urgent-they were not willing to listen-I was told it will take one hour but unfortunately money didn't get credited before closure of trading that day and it defeated my very purpose of going all the way to bank branch...

lekhni said...

Aren't PSU banks also at an advantage with people who do not want to have high monthly balances sitting around in the bank account? If I remember correctly, some of the niche PSU banks (like Bank of Maharashtra) offer very good service..

Rajesh Kumar said...

Fully agreed Srinidhi and Lekhni, times are changing both ways.