If we are having a bank account and visit the bank branch regularly most of the time when we visit the branch we can see some clients getting angry, shouting at the bank staff, in turn, the front office staff or the supervisors shouting at the customer or taking the client to the branch in charge for the solution. The banks are rendering great service to the Nation. Today we can not imagine the country achieving so much without the services of the banks more so the public sector banks whose branches can be seen even in the remotest corner of the country..The staff is also good, educated., and cultured in general. So also the customers entering the branch on any given day. Neither the staff nor the customer enters the branch and commences his day with an intention to fight and hurt somebody. But often we keep reading about poor service in banks, and rude behavior of staff. what really is the problem then?

A small amount of history:

Before the Nationalisation of banks, all the banks were in the hands of private sector owners except The State Bank Of India. Patriotic Indians and businessmen who started banks during the earlier rulers continued with these private banks. Though the customers’ service was satisfactory the staff were not given their due in terms of service conditions, pay and compensations. As a result, the staff organized themselves under a banner to fight for their betterment. After a prolonged battle both the management and employees’ unions arrived at a viable and satisfactory settlement covering a whole lot of issues and with a promise to revisit the settlement periodically. Unfortunately, the success of the struggle made both sides tougher and though the service conditions improved the customer’s service took a hit as both sides quoted the same settlement to fight against each other. From 1966 to the early 1990s the trade unions gained from strength to strength whereas many a time the officers and branch managers were on the back foot and were left to fend for themselves. An element of militancy crept in and the situation was too hot to handle.

Political affiliations

With the political parties waiting to get hold of any mass movement to further their cause, the trade union growth came in handy and the inevitable happened whereby the trade unions started leaning towards one party or the other and in all these the poor customer was never kept in the picture. The staff grew arrogant and even daily routine work was affected by frequent arguments between the staff, and customers. With the introduction of the Banking services recruitment board, the second set of bank Nationalisation in 1980, and with a lot of senior leaders retiring the situation improved, and today with a lot of well-qualified youngsters who are career oriented opting for banking as a career the situation is almost normal. All this doesn’t mean that everyone was militant and bothered the customers. There were plenty of talented, friendly, and sincere staff in all banks whose untiring services have helped banks to grow to the present level.

Customer service committees:

The Finance ministry and the Res erve Bank of India have taken a lot of steps to improve customer’s service in banks. Ea ch branch should have a customer service committee and the committee should meet periodically and discuss about any shortcomings in their service,suggest ways to enhance customer satisfaction etc. The report should be submitted to their Regional offices who make a review ,consolidate the reports and submit to the Head Office. Periodical inspections verify this record without fail.Then there is customers meet wherein customers are invited to the branch and in the presence of a higher official the members of the public express their problems, appreciations etc. Finally there is Banking OMBUDSMAN. Banks conduct periodical training programmes on customer service and ways to improve the same. Bank managements often declare their policy of Zero tolerance on poor customer service. All these efforts cumulatively have brought in considerable improvement in customer service.

most common complaints by customers:

The following issues normally affect the customers and develop into a complaint .

Opening the bank branch in time and staff attending to the customer at the right business hours. Goiporia committee set up in 1990 by Reserve Bank of India has among other things suggested that employees arrive in the branch atleast 15 minutes earlier to the commencement of business hours so that after the necessary routine non customer related work like cleaning etc the counters start functioning at the right time. Also before closing the counters for the day waaiting customers in queue should be attended to and should be sent away due to end of business hours. These recommendations have been implemented since. No amount of external enforcement may solve the problem unless the employees internalising punctuality as a trait and have empathy.

pass book or account statement is a simple and important tool to satisfy the customer. A neatly printed pass book or statement where the letters are clearly visible and where the legends used to describe each transaction is fully described instead of simply printing “BY”…”TO”..ClG..Transfer etc which will not be helpful to the customer. Many a times the pass book printers are not working and customers are unable to get the records updated. Though phone banking and SMS banking are available the customers especially senior citizens prefer passbooks neaatly printed.The branch staff should be trained to handle minor repairs to the printer so that they need not wait for the service provider every time the printer develops some problem.

Whenever any charges are debited to the account the customer should be informed within a reasonable time so that there is no wrongful dishonour of cheques on account of this debit.

Any revision in interest rates on loans availed and revisions in EMI payable dueto the interest rate revision should be promptly informed to the borrowers,On their part the customers should gather all these informations periodically from the bank in person or the bank”s website.

F.no 15H/G submitted by customers not entered in bank”s computors and as a result tax is deducted inspite of the customer doing his part.

Whenever a prospective borrower applies for a loan after the initial scrutiny subsequent requirements should be informed to the borrowe in one lot and once all the documents are submitted no piecemeal request to be made for any further documents, If the loan cannot be sanctioned as per bank rules the same to be communivated early without wasting time.

At the time of release of the loan all terms and conditions must be clearly explained to the borrower and the importance of prompt repayment should be emphasised.

Staff should try to read all the internal manuals,circulars etc issued by their bank and every one must be in a position to explain any queries on the products of the bank without directing the customer here and there.

Customers must obtain a copy of “code of bank”s commitment to the customers”and familiarise with guidelines furnished therein. Customers should know their rights as well as responsibilities to enjoy a fruitful banker customer relation ship.

with more in next edition,

pichai iyer,


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