Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Nightmarish Banking Experience. What’s the Purpose of All This?

I wrote this short story about how outsourcing is counter-productive to customer interests. It just doesn’t work for the customer, as it does for the seller, because the latter can get rid of a lot of staffing costs by outsourcing (i.e., save a lot on employee benefits by giving away work to an outside contractor, which is what, I presume, outsourcing is all about). But the customer gets whacked on his/her behind with a big stick, and gets nothing of value. High technology makes even the simplest of things complicated, this post tries, valiantly, I must add, to prove this point.

Now with ATM cards, online connectivity, funds transfer, and modern banking it’s proving to be a harrowing time for banking customers. For example I have to remember all the following numbers relating to my bank (No doubt, I have become forgetful these days. Why can’t they have one single reference number?):

ATM Pin number - (4 digits)

Account Number - (15 digits, or is it?)

Customer id - (10 digits)

Telebanking number - (4 digits)

Login id - (10 characters)

Password - (8 characters)

Helpline - (8 digits)

I challenge anyone including the hi-falutin pompous Chairman and Managing Director of the bank to remember all these numbers I have committed to memory with great difficulty. I am sure they can’t! As if that’s not enough, they went ahead and change my password and I have to go on a wild goose chase to do the following to access their helpline:

Accessing Helpline - (30 seconds)

Various helpline options (I have to hear all of them, and I go paranoid remembering each of them) - (10 seconds)

Choosing the right option – (10 seconds)

Listening to the bank’s ads as I wait – (10 seconds)

Entering my account number – (15 seconds, it’s a 15 digit number)

Entering my date of birth – (10 seconds)

Waiting... waiting... waiting... (180 seconds)

An operator comes at the other end, I tell her I need a new password. – (15 seconds).

She asks for my customer id – (20 seconds, I am racking my brain for the customer id).

Then she asks the impossible – she wants my date of birth.

We argue.

I say I have just entered it, doesn’t your computer remember?

She says the system is down, so, can I have your number, sir? – (120 seconds, I know, she is reading from a prepared script, so I give up).

I give her my date of birth – (10 seconds)

Waiting... waiting... waiting... – (180 seconds)

She is checking something.

She asks for my email address, I give it – (60 seconds)

Sir we have mailed you a form which you will have to fill up and give it to our nearest branch.

Huh? I could have done it in the first place.

How long since I submit the form to your branch?

Within four days sir, she says triumphantly.

I am a busy guy. So I will take at least 2 days to visit the bank, adding another 4 days that will take me to get my new password, it will be 6 days and 670 seconds (11 minutes I have wasted talking to the phone, actually much more) before I get my new password.

After doing all this hyper-active things I am frazzled. I am an easygoing guy who gets hassled easily. So I think: why do I need the password? Because I wanted to check a transaction online, right? But, who needs online banking? The bank’s online banking interface (this is their favourite word, I also use it often) is badly designed and programmed.

Why do I need online banking when I could just easily walk into the bank (like I used to do before these thingies crept into my beleaguered consciousness), ask a kind (also, beleaguered, but also smart and starchy South Indian) clerk to help me to check my account transaction and be done in 1 hour flat? We need more well-trained and courteous employees who can handle a customer face-to-face, not a lot of customer service executives sitting in some Kafkaesque tower in the industrial maze of Andheri East.

And to think that the bank has employed programmers, customer support executives, expensive computers, internet, high-tech telecom and cables, electricity, climate control, expensive urban office space to do all this. Just this? Billions of rupees, you say?

Just boggles the simple mind, doesn’t it?

An innocent and uncomplicated question: how about an old-fashioned visit to the bank to sort out such things? There’s a sensible bank in my area that is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., I guess I will do my banking there.

1 comment:

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