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Friday, November 13, 2009

Service Encounters #1

This is something I shared with my Database and Internet Marketing class, but I'd like to share it with you guys too.

Customer Relationship Management has become critical to the success of firms that provide either product or service offerings. Many firms have large numbers of customers and several touch points at multiple geographic locations and it is highly unlikely that a customer will be served by the same front-line staff on two consecutive visits, yet the consistency of the service has to be ensured for healthy CRM.

Traditionally, banking services have taken care of high-net worth clients. In private banking, for example, Bessemer Trust Company targets families with a minimum of $5 million in investable assets who want capital preservation combined with wealth accumulation. However, most retail bankers might find it difficult to differentiate themselves, and this is where a sound CRM can help. Financial services may end up having incorrect cross-sell opportunities and potential regulatory compliance issues if they are not well aware of their customer needs and preferences.

When my elder brother got his admit for his Masters in Carnegie Mellon, I was surprised by the efficiency of say, Bank A, in calling him up to discuss a suitable offering of a student loan. He did not need it at that time.

My experience with another Bank B was however, completely different. My friend needed to transfer online some money she owed me, and could not figure out how to do it, even though the account details and other essential information were provided. I called up the customer service to help her out, and since it was a considerable sum, paying back in cash would have been impractical for both of us. The first executive I talked to was extremely rude and couldn’t provide any solution. I considered changing my bank account for a moment, even though I considered she might just be having a bad day.

I decided to call again, hoping another executive would be more helpful. This time, she tried her best to help me and though I got the solution from another friend while I was on call, the attitude of the second executive changed my perception about the banking organization.

Another experience with Bank C was almost equally confounding. When I took leave without pay from my job to prepare for an exam, Bank C refused to let me use my account to transact money. My boss wouldn’t let me resign but I couldn’t use my corporate bank account either, though there was a considerable sum in the savings account. At that time, I had only one credit card with that bank and to say the least, I was in a fix. I talked to a service executive but she said she could not help owing to the nature of my account and I had to visit another state to resolve the issue. I got bailed out of the situation soon and decided to cancel my account with Bank C. A couple of months later, they emailed me offering me great savings for opening a NRI account, claiming they knew exactly what I needed!

While I have been not very conscious of my consumer rights (maybe it is a cultural thing), and I have learned to ask for my rights only after I landed in US, I have always taken my banking services seriously- obviously because that is where my money is.

Both the experiences showed inconsistent service encounters and bad CRM implementation- one I’d attribute to bad training, the other pure difference in interest. It is ironical because banks are the institutions that customers ought to feel most loyal to, and most secure about.


Anonymous said...

Customer service executives perform a tough job.They are hit by complaints from all directions. Serving as an insulation for the corporate firms is difficult. Yet they do a wonderful job of addressing the grievances of customers, everyday.

You were right in your judgement about the bank representative.

Aparichito said...

Customer service executives are the frontline ppl, they are the face of a company. Good CRM is one of the key reasons of huge success of Airtel in India.