SHRI C. C. MITRA
Banking is primarily a customer oriented service industry. Therefore, I thought it appropriate to communicate my thoughts about customer service in this web page of IIBM as my first message.The essence of customer service is well captured in the famous quotation of Mahatma Gandhi reproduced below :
“A Customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us.
We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption on our work.
He is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider on our business.
He is a part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
The above words capture succinctly the entire philosophy of customer service and holds true and valid even in the present times. In fact the excellence in performance of any organization, especially in a service industry like banking, is judged by the level of customer satisfaction. Hence, customer satisfaction is a prime consideration while formulating corporate policies and procedures and implementing them at the shop floor level and at the transaction level.
I feel the bank should set the standard for customer service so that other organizations can emulate. Banks cater to varied customer groups, it may be individuals - poor and rich, corporates – small, medium and big, partnership firms of various sizes, Government Departments, men and women engaged in any type of economic activity – industry, agriculture, trade. At the transaction level some may be very low value transactions as in the case of “no frill” accounts opened for financial inclusion purpose, or may be very exceptionally large value transactions for MNCs and big corporates. At the individual level, some customers may be poor, under privileged, meek and mild and not of demanding type, aware of his rights and obligations. Some customers may be very articulate demanding and conscious of their rights and service quality. While in the subject of customer service, the banks have to take care of all the customers big and small. Probably they may be more caring and tending towards the less privileged and poor.
Even internal customer service is also important for boosting the morale of the employees to achieve high productivity and excellence.
There are three pillars, on which the edifice of customer service rests.
Firstly, customer service should be prompt. Response or redressal, however good, loses its effectiveness if delayed. The response time in dealing with various requirements of the customers needs to be as short as possible. All endeavors need to be made in this direction. To the customers, if we do not have the time, we will have to make it.
Secondly, the service should be customer centric. We should be in a position to appreciate and understand the customers’ needs and position. Of course, while doing so, we also have to act within the framework of our extant policy, rules and regulations and procedures. One should put oneself in the customer’s shoes before taking decisions. Half-hearted or perfunctory dealing will naturally result in customer dissatisfaction and bring down the status of the organization in the customer’s esteem.
Thirdly, our attitude towards the customers is also important. It starts with respecting him. When we deal with customers our behavioural and attitudinal aspects also come into focus and impact customer satisfaction directly. Hence an appropriate courteous disposition will make them happy and satisfied even though their requirements would not have been met, may be because of policy/procedural requirement. If we truly honour their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier. Let us therefore be polite, courteous and pleasant and customer-friendly in our approach. And what we are aiming at customer satisfaction and not mere customer service.
We bankers have the responsibility of setting high standards in this area. Our dealings, whether across the counters or during one-to-one transactions in other customer oriented work areas, should be driven by the credo that customer is the most important factor. Needless to mention that when such philosophy is accepted by all of us, the institution will go further up in the esteem of the public.
It will not be out of place to quote Peter Drucker who said:
“The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.”