It's all very well to talk about 'revolution in the banking sector'. But is the idea of phone banking merely a strategy to help a relatively new bank expand aggressively? Or was it also supposed to make my life as a customer easier?
My interaction with ICICI phone banking over the last one year certainly leaves me in doubt over that question. The common problems one encounters:-
- Punch in your debit card, pin number etc etc and try to reach a phone banking officer (you may have an automated menu but it does not fulfil every need!).
"Sorry ma'am my system is down.. pl punch yr 16 digit pin number again..."
I do that.
The second person who comes on line asks me to do the same thing! And a third!!
And this is not an isolated incident. Invariably, there is some kind of accident or mishap while speaking to a phone banking officer - or you are put indefinitely on hold. Either way, it's back to hearing 'hum hain na..." tan tana tan tana tan tana tan.
Why not just change your tune to 'jingle hai na..."!
A single call to this bank can easily take 20-30 minutes. How different is that from going to the branch and standing in line there? And did you notice, it's not even a toll-free number!
Yes, on one occassion a higher-up in the phone banking chain went out of his way to help me with my net banking password. But honestly, had the bank used a better courier who would have left a 'We were here while you were away' slip (as is the standard practice) I would not have had to trouble him.
No amount of advertising can convince me of ICICI Bank's love for me. The only other time I hear from them is when they (or their DSAs) wish to sell me something. A car loan, a home loan.. whatever.
And I bet I'll get 16 calls a day if I ever default.
Service is when a phone banker calls and says,"Ma'am you have some money lying in your account which could be earning more interest. Can I put it in a fixed deposit? And by the way, a flexi-deposit may make even more sense..."
Instead they 'build the brand' by putting up giant hoardings all over screaming 9% interest. And expect us to sms our desire to participate.
But why should any bank bother? Hamara paisa pada hai to unhe fayda hai. Or so it would seem. A single call from a bank which is in my genuine interest would earn you more in goodwill and future business than you can imagine.
Perhaps all phone banking systems have these troubles - not just ICICI. Maybe ICICI customers are just more net savvy, more vocal. Here are just a few thread with complaints....
Avinash Murkute on mouthshut.com (complaint posted on April 3 2007 - and apparently taken note of).But that's just one of a looooooooooong list.
A thread on Arjun Prabhu's blog started 2 years ago which still gets customers venting their ire (ICICI seems to be monitoring this as well and responding)
And here too ICICI features prominently. Along with Indiatimes shopping and Air Deccan. (I know most of us have vowed not to fly on that airline but let me tell you, but just in case, they have a completely dysfunctional website which is being 'upgraded' for the last two months! )
The bottomline: Some kind soul from ICICI is likely to read this, email me and apologise for the 'inconvenience caused'. But, the problem is systemic.
'Hum hain na' has to be a genuine philosophy for the company. Not just an irritating advertising jingle mouthed by a charming but overpaid actor.