about 7 months ago
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RBI put out the ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2018-19.’ And this report showed that, not surprisingly, PSU banks topped the list of ‘most number of complaints’ in the one-year period between 1st July 2018 and 31st June 2019. While in PSU banks, the maximum complaints pertained to to non-observance of fair practices and failure on commitments and non-adherence to other banking codes, followed by complaints on debit and credit cards, in private sector banks, the major complaints were on account of the cards.

The report showed that SBI topped the list with the highest number of complaints, followed by PNB and BoB. Of the total of 1.2 lakh complaints received, more than 50% were from SBI alone.

In the private sector, a total of 55,000 complaints were received, with the main reason being levy of charges without prior notice. HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank topped the list.

These numbers do not even raise an eye brow as we all have experienced it at one point or the other. Not just banks, anywhere you deal with, customer service is non-existent. It is hard to believe that in times gone by, customers were indeed treated like Kings and Queens. Loyalty was the most important business strategy and to create loyalty, treating a customer well was a priority. Employees were actually trained well to look after customers. And one did feel good when the company gave you and your time importance; truly showed that they cared.

Today, all this sounds mythical; how could companies behave like that?

Walk into any bank, more so private banks based on personal experience – the “May I Help You?” employs some of the rudest and most brusque employees – be it bank or a mobile operators desk or even a retail mall. Walk into malls, you will have many sales personnel milling around you; you touch one garment and they will start egging you towards other choices. No attention is paid to the fact that your body language conveys, “keep away!” Some shops in the malls, they look you up and down and if you measure up to their standards, only then will they even smile at you.

Try getting a customer service guy to repair an electronic device you have just purchased. And if you have to lodge a complaint, you have to spend hours talking to machines on the phone, pressing “1” and “2” for ages. And after spending an hour, it is quite a common occurrence for the call to drop and you have to begin all over again. Or you cable TV operator or your experience when the internet is down? Yes, customer service; rather poor service drives us all mad!

Think about it. We all are just a number, a statistics for most companies. The aim of the company or even a bank is to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase earnings. Creating customer loyalty through services is just not in the mission, vision or philosophy. It is all about getting the maximum customers – all first timers, weaned away from competitors with ‘sales and deals’; it is never about retaining existing ones.

Why has this attitude changed? Quite a few reasons. First and foremost, which many might not agree but is the truth – people are not as well-mannered as before. Road rage, public personalities behaving badly, swearing in public, rage on TV, increased violence – all point out to the simple fact that we all are poorer mannered than what people were 20-30 years ago. People are rude and difficult to please as tolerance levels are much lower. And that is what percolates down to poor customer service.

Another important factor – every employee is fighting to keep his job, designation and salary intact and this means most do not have any loyalty to the company/bank; if they do not have this sense of ownership how will they ever work on nurturing loyal customers?

This is probably why we chat away with our local kirana shopkeeper than the sales lady at the mall. And that is why kirana shops have existed despite malls cropping up.

Coming back to the RBI report – will this change the attitude of the employees? No way! This is just how it is and will be; we have no option but to live with it.

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