Friday, November 29, 2013


                                                                                          - MILAN K SINHA
The heartening news of elevation of a woman career banker, 57 year old Arundhati Bhattacharya, to the highest post in the largest bank (SBI) of the country finally came a few weeks back. The country has other three woman chairpersons in PSU Banks - Vijayalakshmi R. Iyer of Bank of India (BOI), Shubhalaksmi Panse of Allahabad Bank and Archana Bhargava of united Bank of India(UBI). Interestingly, SBI and BOI chairpersons are functioning from the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai - the western part whereas; Allahabad Bank and UBI chairpersons are controlling their banks from historical city Kolkata, situated in eastern part of the country. It hardly needs any reiteration that in private banking space, women have been occupying top positions – Chanda Kochhar in ICICI Bank, Shikha Sharma in Axis Bank, Naina Lal Kidwai in HSBC, to name only three, for quite some time.

In fact, during the long intervening period since nationalisation in 1969 to date, banks of all sorts have witnessed more changes than expected and have tried to keep pace with these changes- may it be huge technological upgradation from totally manual to technologically advanced CBS (Core Banking Solution) system or income recognition or provision for bad debts or capital adequacy or induction and elevation of woman employees in growing numbers, to name a few. All the reforms and transformation have been primarily aimed at serving the growing number of customers having changing needs and requirements in this dynamic financial market.

Be it so, it would be appropriate to look at the things from the perspective of an ordinary bank customer. Isn't it? And more importantly, what needs to be done not only to serve the customers but also to satisfy them. 
Its common knowledge, whenever a person enters the premises of a bank, a minimum expectation accompanies him. He looks around to find out where his expectation is going to be fulfilled. Here, the front line bank staff having fast response time and eagerness to attend to his job with a smile leave the first indelible impression on the mind of the customer. We know, courtesy always pays and often pays handsomely. Acting and performing the job in consonance with the feeling of extending the same courtesy that one expects and at times demands from the staff of any other organization where he is himself a customer makes all the difference. To say, the staff wins half the battle if he begins putting himself in customer's place. Offering an opportunity to the customer to form the impression that he is being served grudgingly is just short of asking him to move out of the bank. Instead, a cheerful greeting puts the customer at ease, and consequently fosters a sense of goodwill besides bringing good business for the bank.

 Moreover, in order to serve a customer well, one must listen well to find out what actually are his problems. The level of banking service has been as good as one's understanding of customers' need, requirements and his immediate expectation. Notwithstanding, a situation may confront the staff where it is not possible to satisfy the customer at that moment for valid cogent reasons, but he should not say 'YES' only to please the customer momentarily. Here, the banker should act by following the valuable advice of Gandhiji, "A 'NO' uttered from the deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'YES' merely to please or worse to avoid trouble". Yes, it is a great art to say 'NO' and still keep the customer not dissatisfied.

As a matter of fact, any successful bank will have to have ever growing loyal customers to whom it keeps adding value and consolidate the on-going relationship. But, it’s not an easy task to add loyal customers to its fold on a regular basis. Yes, to achieve this most sought after goal, it is of utmost importance to let all its personnel understand well that the transaction effected by a customer is not an one-off-interface, but is the beginning of a long term relationship. That’s why all banks talk loudly of relationship banking. But, we know well that only talking will not lead us to achieve the set target. For practicing relationship banking in real sense of the term, banks must act proactively on ‘3R’ principle of  Recognizing, Respecting and Rewarding its   customers as it has been a sure and certain way not only for sustaining business growth, both top line as well as  bottom line, but also for  image and brand  building exercise of a bank. Interestingly, this strategy of ‘3R’ relationship banking always makes customers feel special and also prompt them to act as bank’s goodwill ambassador which help the bank immensely in any competitive market whatsoever.

With increased social responsibility as well in the wake of government policy of pushing financial inclusion in a big way, it is hoped that banks, more particularly PSU banks would be able to keep itself well equipped with all necessary inputs including nicely trained courteous and computer savvy workforce with more number of women employees at all levels on an ongoing basis so as to ensure delivery of its products and services in a far better manner in days to come. 

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                      Will meet again with Open Mind. All the Best.

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