Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Bank Experience

There was this NRI account to be opened. The bank nearby, one of India's leading private sector banks, was all eager. Just like their ads. They made it sound as if it was a simple matter and that all was under control. Yes maam, will be done maam, this document is enough maam, we'll be right over etc. The whole thing done inside of an hour. We are all wondering at the new efficiency in the system and how things have changed. Feet were put up.

Not so fast.

The young man comes home. Needs more documents. You see the document there says that, but that is not fully supported in this document, so we need another document to connect these two. So it went on and on for sometime. Once again the young man jumped onto his bike, said it was all under control now and it was all done. Okay, good effort, though all this coming back every now and then was getting tiresome. And oh, this time he also took away the money required, hard cash, with no receipt or acknowledgement. All under control maam, we are as efficient as the ad says. You can trust us.

Unfortunately, his boss got more doubts. Here is where Shobhs lost it and told the guy what she thought of the way they were handling it. Why cannot you get it right the first time? Or even the second time? Why don't you just email me what you want so its on record. Why are you now saying you said this and I said that. And what happens with the money now?

The boy got offended. I will return it instantly he says. Here I am trying to help you and you doubt me? My integrity? Arre baba, this is not some family relationship is it that we all trust one another. You are not helping me, you are doing business and your job. All one asks is to do it well. How come you took cash and gave no receipt?

Now, he is miffed. His superior the operations manager, calls up and takes off on the prospective customer. What is all this? Why are you being so difficult when we are trying to help you? It's just not done. Do you want us to help or not? Now, its a little different. The tone was that of a disapproving headmistress who is dealing with an errant student. What the...? Shobhs is now livid. Why is everyone acting like they are doing me a favour when in fact they are messing it up each step? She asks the boy - do you guys know what you are doing? Have you handled such account before? No, he confessed. But we are learning on the fly.

A new executive lands up. Sorry. We now only need this. And I am sorry. That executive should not have taken money. But sorry again, I forgot to get you the receipt though I know its important! What? How casual can you all get? How many times will you do the same things again and again? How many times will you run around us like this? How many times will you call with all this emotional hogwash? It was as bad as a television serial.

Can't you do the job professionally?

And so on and on. As on date, five days since, there is no progress in terms of the account. In process you see.

This is yet another thing we see much of. The complete lack of professionalism or professional pride. Or even the learning mindset. When you are running against a deadline, it is imperative that all communication is clear and in writing. The list of documents in this case was best given in writing - on mail or sms even. But few take that responsibility. They'd rather keep that area grey. Secondly you help because it is business for you, a new customer for you. You don't do it as if you are doing that person a favour. Thirdly, when you have made a mistake, accept it. It is far better than lying or trying to cover yourself with untruths. Most importantly, never get personal or emotional - it is never about belief, trust and sympathy between the client and the business - it is always about doing the job thoroughly, professionally and efficiently. All these come in after. Lastly, one needs to follow a set of standard procedures, checklists, documents, signatures etc and if there is doubt, no promises must be made. It is better off losing a customer by being honest than losing a customer by being dishonest.

We lack so much in the delivery aspect. How we treat our customers is a lesson in how not to treat them. If there is one thing we need to understand it is this - it is all about delivery. The promised quantity and quality within the promised time. If it does not happen as promised, one must learn not to make false promises. Be honest. Accept he limitation. Agree that a mistake has been made. It is far easier.

If there are any management institutions and big corporations listening in, get a quick course done in what defines a true professional. I am serious. Don't assume they know. They don't. They can always learn what you teach them if they have the right attitude. Otherwise however fancy the name, the packaging, we'll never get anywhere with such appallingly low delivery standards.

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