So many things contribute to build up and refurbish the image of a bank - things which seem quite insignificant at first sight. Taken together, they add up to that priceless asset-customer goodwill. In fact, goodwill is earned if the customer is reasonably satisfied. And satisfied customer, as everybody knows, has been the best running advertisement for any organisation in this fiercely competitive world including banking. Service delayed is, in a way, service denied.
Underestimating the value of a customer has always proved to be fatal. When a customer finds that his work is being attended, he waits but does not fret and fume, rather he allows the bank to take its own time to accomplish the task.
As the Attitude, Skills and Knowledge (ASK) of the staff and not the plethora of resources have been the major inputs, it is imperative for any leading and promising bank to carefully nurture and develop its human resources (HR). HRD assumes even greater importance when we talk more about customer satisfaction these days. Theoretically, it might be the case in most of the leading and fast growing banks to pursue HR policy with an aim at procuring from the market qualified persons who would be trained to familiarise with changing trends and technology, but at the delivery level on the ground, there has been a telling gap for the obvious creed and deed syndrome even if it is presumed that at policy level there is absolute clarity about having a dynamic change management system.
To begin with, it is very important to train the employees in smaller and relatively cohesive groups at regular intervals to get acquainted with organisational culture, update their knowledge and skills and motivate them to exert high efforts for effective accomplishment of bank's goals. Moreover, HR policy of a bank should clearly emphasise the need to:
Ensure that every staff realises the importance of new ideas and concepts.
Empower employees to solve customer problems on their own initiative.
Improve the level and quality of interaction of every employee directly with the end user.
‘Socialisation’ of new employees too, is an important priority area which often doesn't receive its due attention. As Devdutt Pattanaik, the author of 'Business Sutra - A Very Indian Approach to Management' puts it: the whole process of induction of new employees may be equated to the first week of the bride in the new house. 'She is nervous and afraid. The ritual of inducting the bride involves making her comfortable with the new surrounding - new relatives, new house, new customs and new habits. The ritual conducted with empathy enables her to adjust quickly and avoids too much awkwardness and embarrassment... the ritual of welcoming the bride is as much for the husband's household as it is for the bride. She carries with her new ideas and new thoughts that will revitalize the family..."
To put it from bank's perspective, the Branch Heads are to act very proactively on this subject. Not only the employees be made to learn early about the organisational values, customs, traditions, local language, manners, etiquette, dress code, customer profile, branch profile etc. but also the trainers and supervisors are required to look for new ideas coming from new recruits during this period to be appreciated, recognised and finally put to use, if found feasible and cost effective.
Moreover, an exclusively designed short duration (of two to three days) on-the-job training programme on regular intervals is particularly essential for front line branch staff who directly interact with the customers on a regular basis for improving service levels.
So, as the things stand in today's competitive banking environment, it is not enough to treat a customer very well, may be like a king, now the customer wants to be treated as a preferred partner.
Milan K. Sinha is a freelance writer. He has worked in Banking and Insurance sector for three decades following three years of active writing in various newspapers and magazines. Presently he is engaged in stress management, wellness and awareness activities besides freelance writing.