23 Dec 2016

The New Old-Age Banking

It’s 8:45 am.
I am standing in a small queue of people: early risers who are obviously eager to catch the worm.
We are outside the bank.
It opens at 9 am. No one seems perturbed. Everyone has accepted this as: ‘life’ ‘fate’ ‘country’ and so on.
A short young security guy stands guard at the half open door. He tries to look fierce and fails miserably. His job is to allow only the bank employees to enter. And keep the supposed miscreants a la customers at bay.
In a short while another jagged queue emerges. I hold on to my earlier queue out of sheer loyalty and due to my distaste of asking relevant questions.
As the bank opens only a few people are allowed to enter from my queue. The other queue however is swallowed in whole.
I now go and check with the ineffective security guy what the queue was all about and why the obvious privilege. I am told that that was the ‘DEPOSIT’ queue.
Good, I say, I need to deposit money. But he has seen me in (what I didn’t know earlier) what was the ‘WITHDRAWAL’ queue.
He asks if I need to withdraw money too.
I say yes but I’d rather deposit the money first. He insists I withdraw before I deposit and go back into the queue. (Heaven help us!)

This is where the average ‘PRIVATE’ banking customer is. At the mercy of the arrogance of an ineffective security guy whose sole job is to protect the bank from its customers. I did argue and a bank employee did ask the security to let me in but it left me bitter.

I realise that in a digital world the private banks have moved so much in the virtual space that they are unable to handle the physical space. It’s well over a month since the demonetization announcement and the response of the bank has been sluggish at best.
What is it that we lack?
Why is the speed and agility that could have made for a richer customer experience especially at this moment of truth not being taken into consideration at all.
Most of the people at this branch stand around directing the show like ineffectual traffic policemen with his hands flailing helplessly in the midst of a gridlock.
Even today, well into December, no process is in place so that the queues can be shorter or the customer wait times reduced. (Yes, there are three chairs tucked into a corner for waiting senior citizens.) While the queues increase, the procedures (or lack thereof) demand that more queues are set up. For each of the three things that I needed to do at the bank there was a separate queue. Clearly this was worse than the earlier way in which the normal ‘old-style’ bank worked where I met with a personal banker who looked into everything I required. So clearly, we have slipped back a couple of decades.

Somewhere in the way we’ve modernized and moved to pish-posh virtual lifestyles of ATMs and online banking, we seem to have forgotten to look after flesh and blood customers who actually walk into the bank. A bit of thought given to customers or customer experience would have helped here.

Am I right in believing that the banks who have moved forward into the virtual word don’t want real customers anymore? What do you think?

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