Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will public sector banks become mainstream banks again?

Firm, effective & a REAL response within 2 hours of sending a mail to email ids mentioned on Bank's website, plus a call directly on your mobile (while you are travelling out of town) from the Zonal Officer... wonder which Bank is this? 

Settings: A real life incidence in Indian Banking Industry (retail business)

Hint: Try your wildest guess!

Even a child in India would tell you with confidence that this is possible only from a really good private sector bank, if at all, and can, at best, be someone's dream to even expect such a response from any public sector bank in India.

But to my own surprise, time and again, several public sector banks have made me feel otherwise... Bank of India, point in case above, sets a wonderful example of service standards as early as today morning. While, a bank manager in a remotely located retail branch acted Godly for a small problem faced by one of my family members, the bank did convert a sour experience into a moment of delight with swift and effective response. 

Another intriguing experience I had was with State Bank of India some time ago, at a retail branch while I wanted to close a bank account. The branch manager spend half an hour to convince me not to close the account. By the way, I closed that account not for any problem in services but to consolidate my banking transactions to my salary account (which happened to be a private bank). The conviction with which the branch manager spoke and interest shown to keep a normal customer with the bank was phenomenal.

There is no doubt that public sector banks still have a long road to travel for providing a robust and reliable infrastructure, facilities and allied services (e.g. 24x7 customer care help, online services, credit cards, insurance, D-mat account etc.) which banks in private sectors boast of, especially for a retail customer. But I am talking about the change in the intend and conduct, which is noticeable over the last few years. I have been banking with private sector banks for over 10 years now and don't remember a single incidence where a request was catered to in less than a day. Another biggest problem I face with a private bank is that all employees consider themselves a party other than bank and feel proud to convey this in every 3rd sentence (whether it is the customer care representative or the so-called personal banker allocated to you!).

While, some may argue that these are sparingly seen cases of little or no expectations met unexpectedly (and probably, I agree to them to some extend), I want to draw the attention to the fact that in these cases, public sector banks are providing more effective and concrete services at much personal level. 

While, a lot has to change at grass root operations of a public sector bank like branches located in remote / small areas where, employees still consider themselves God and the zeal to serve its customer is still amiss, I have to admit, in all fare-ness, that a Branch Manager of a public sector bank in a city will treat you better than any of its counterparts in the private sector. He will not try to sell you D-mat account when you are looking for fixed deposits. :)

With such incidents happening more often the question keeps coming back to my mind - will public sector banks regain their lost sheen? Will public sector banks become mainstream banks again???

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