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Customer Service - Is there a unified view?

The bankers across the globe have different perceptions and definition for customer service. When I talk to them, customer centricity is their primary focus to enhance loyalty. Is the metric for customer centricity based on tangibles such as products designed with customer in mind or on intangibles like customer service? All agree that intangibles do matter.

I walk into a bank in India. The teller recognizes me immediately (I feel belonged); Smiles, enquires how I am; we chat and then get into business of banking discuss my current portfolio as he picks out a hard copy of my last email from a file (The bank shows sense of responsibility) and we continue to discuss new products designed for customers such as I (The bank shows empathy). This has been the trend for the last 25 years with the bank. I recall the day I broke my leg and needed money. I called the bank. The manager sent across a teller to my home to deliver money. I truly feel at home here. As I am about to leave, I am introduced to his successor as he is moving onto to another branch who assures me of the same good service. (The bank is exhibiting trust and concern).

I saw the manager to say a few good words about his branch. I had further revelations. A customer retired from work, drawing pension he tells me, visits the branch to socialise and does not look for prompt service. This chap surely knows the psychology of his customers.

I moved to North America and walked into the Bank that showcased 5 continuous years of excellence award for customer service. I have been with this bank for about 5 years and not one teller recognises me. I receive bountiful of junk mail from this bank and calls over the phone to market products. I am an account number when I visit the bank and a telephone number when the bank calls me. I moved my account to another bank across the street with no qualms. I keep thinking, is there a unified view of customer service?

What exactly is the definition of customer service? In such scenarios how can a bank retain customers? From the experience, I see why banks in North America have to demonstrate warmth, responsibility, empathy and all such good stuff to induce customers. Perhaps it is cultural or is it that the banks don’t care. In theory call centres must improve customer service; realty is different.

If the branch dies so will the bank. Well, a bank is not all transactions;it is all relationship. The feel of customer service will be lost. I hear you; direct banking has come to stay. This is by choice. True customer experience is in a brick and mortar branch. Check it out. I still wander around the globe and experience the different dimensons of what is loosely referred to as 'Customer Service'.

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