Friday, November 07, 2008

Public sector banks and customer service

I had meant to write something under this heading but couldn't proceed beyond writing up the title because my blog got jammed for several days. The title without any write up itself drew several comments- including one saying that the title in itself was a comment!

Wrong. I had meant to compare the public sector favourably with the private sector when it came to private service, quoting from an FT article:

The sheer inefficiency of UK bank bureaucracies in their domestic operations can be compared with public services at their worst. Public services at their best now outperform the banks – so government ownership could actually improve bank performance. The banks should be made more accountable to the public, as public services already are.

Examples come from my own experience but are matched by that of others. Banks use the internet as little as possible to avoid fraud; instead they use the post, in which letters are lost or stolen, and the telephone, which is overloaded and often fails to give results after interminable waiting times.

My bank has three times posted an unwanted cheque book to me in the past year, in spite of being asked not to after a postal theft led to a £2,500 fraud. Alternatives to the Royal Mail are a delusion, because the Royal Mail still does their doorstep delivery – as often as not to the wrong address.

The author correctly identifies cost reduction and the use of channels other than the traditional bank branch as responsible for the decline in service quality. In many private banks in India, it is impossible to meet anybody to discuss a complaint- you can only discuss with an operative at a call centre.

Secondly, public sector banks find themselves obliged to respond because various public functionaries- such as MLAs and MPs and even municipal corporators- will forward complaints. The customer himself or herself has a strong sense of ownership because it is public sector. And public sector banks still rely on branches for customer interaction.


outspoken said...

Empty post :) !

Raj said...

Needless to say that.......

Rohit Karan said...

pretty cheeky :)

Krishnan said...

When there is a private sector that can take the pressure off the public sector, the public will look only at the "profit" motive of the private sector while ignoring what they deliver. The author of the piece had no data except as to what his opinion was. If "public" were so wonderful, why is it that there is no movement to nationalize everything? Entire countries then can become efficient and produce what the public wants, the service they demand. If it were not for private enterprise, and the generation of wealth the public enterprises will not have anything to steal from and pretend they are more efficient since they are "public". Yes, I know that today such arguments may appear difficult to make given the mess on Wall Street and elsewhere. the argument nevertheless has merit. "Public" is but an excuse to steal and make worse in general, in India and yes, even in the Good old US of A.

Anonymous said...

what about the govt LPG agencies... customer service is probably the most efficient...

Here is the exact conversation I had.
I dial the number and somebody picks up
other guy: number? [consumer number]
me: xxxxx
other guy: rohit?
me: yes
other guy: 2 days
and he hangs the phone...

Talk about bare-bones approach!

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Anonymous said...

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Outsource Call Center said...

Yeah! The customer himself or herself has a strong sense of ownership because it is public sector. And public sector banks still rely on branches for customer interaction. very well said. Customer service is really necessary. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. Looking forward for your next post.