Industry Research : Poor Phone Banking Services Put Off Customers
Sept 22, 2011 -- Radhika Swamy (name changed), 24, was having an exceptionally frustrating Monday morning after her debit card got stuck in a faulty ATM machine near Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai. She decided to call the phone-banking division of her bank to get her card blocked. However, she was put through a waiting tone which lasted more than a minute.
According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report on productivity in the banking sector, last month almost 40% of the banks in India revealed that their wait time was more than a minute at the call centre. These findings are based on an industry wide productivity survey. The median observed in leading retail banks worldwide was 48 seconds.
"When I finally did get to talk to an executive, he was not able to help me in anyway. I wanted to block my old card and order for a new one. He refused to understand my problem and kept asking me the same questions over and over. I had to eventually go to branch office and get things fixed," Swamy said.
Slow response and low quality service are not new to phone-banking customers. As many account holders are today following a busy work schedule, this turns out to be a tiring experience. Bank call centres have gained notoriety for long wait times and the complexity of interactive voice response (IVR) navigation, points out the BCG report.
There is a lack of well trained staff, says Saurabh Tripathi, partner and director, BCG. "It is a matter of appropriate process design. There is no proper customer segmentation in the banks and also the staff at the call centres is not well trained in addressing issues," he said.
Banks argue that the high attrition levels of the business process outsourcing industry are the main concern for the lack of good services. The total number of calls on a given day can add to a lot of pressure on the miniscule staff at a call centre, a couple of public sector banks said. Besides, it would be wrong to compare the solutions provided in the other countries to the services offered here.
"Abroad they do not take redressals. Here, we have got a concern for every customer who approaches us. Call centre executives come up with logical conclusions," said B Vada Prasad, general manager (retail, payments and settlements and third party products), Union Bank of India.
Prasad claims no other bank is India has got a call centre like Union Bank of India which has its own centre. Other banks mostly outsource it.
Public sector banks are addressing this issue by ramping up their hiring processes. "We are hiring new people as soon as possible and also increasing the number of lines. It will definitely add to our cost but we are more concerned about our customers," said Ram Sangapure, general manager, Central Bank of India.
Private sector banks on the other hand say that their processes are intact and ensure that customers get a satisfying experience through their call centres. "80% of our calls are attended within an average time of 20 seconds. We take care of the quality of our phone-banking services on a daily basis," said Shalini Mehta, executive vice president, Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011