The Saga of customer service!

The story of how bad can a customer service become!

I am writing this post after having recently seen one of the worst customer service experiences in India. This happened in the banking sector. HDFC Bank is one of the biggest banks in India, just like Bank of America, which falls into the ‘Too big to fail’ category. Few months back, my family was unexpectedly given the personal accident policy by the insurance division of this bank. We were surprised to see this, and had immediately contacted the bank to remove this policy which has been thrown at us without our expectation.

The bank told us that they will withdraw the policy, and refund the amount which had been debited for the policy. After this, days went on, and soon weeks went on, and we could no longer see the refund being deposited. We frequently reached out to the bank vis emails and phone calls, and told them our concern, but all they told was it’s in process, and it takes some time. Soon, we received the check of a smaller amount. We again were taken aback by this check, as it was lesser than the amount bank owed to us.

Again, we reached out to the bank. But by then, our credit card had expired, and the account had been closed as well. So, we had to request for a new credit card, and then a few days later, the card was delivered. We started sending emails for the explanation of this smaller amount, but everytime we got a reply as we are working on your request.

During the last few weeks, we visited the local branch, and the main branch, but due to covid, the entire team was working from home, and so could not help us resolve this issue. The main branch politely requested us to send emails to the team, while the local branch in my locality was notorious enough to raise their hands as if nothing had happened. I ll come to the story of this local branch in a while.

Soon, the reply from the respective team started coming with the investigation for the lost amount. We had to send multiple emails to request for the statements, and only after bombarding their department with the threat to report this issue to the RBI ( Central governing body just like the FED), they finally forwarded the desired statements to us.

But then, the statement seemed to be confusing as it mentioned the LOAN transaction. We knew we had not taken any loan from this bank, and so we wondered what in the world is wrong with this bank. So, we visited the local branch recently, and told the manager about this.

Before going further into this, I will mention the previous experience with this local branch and the notorious manager. To get answers regarding this issue, we had visited the local branch months before. At that time, they had told us that this issue comes under the supervision of the main branch. So, we visited the main branch, and after meeting the team there, they told us the right procedure to follow, which is forwarding our query via the local branch! Wow, I mean it seemed like a round robin now. So,we came back to the local branch, and told them about this so-called procedure. The immediate reaction of the manager and his team was that how in the world is some customer explaining to them their own rules!! They were angry that we had hit the spot, and finally had to tell us about the right team we need to reach to get the bank statements.

So, coming back to the topic, we got the bank statements, which were somewhat confusing. So, as mentioned, we went to the local branch to get an explanation. I don’t know what was wrong with that manager, but he became upset the moment he saw us. And then started becoming angry at us for asking questions on the same old topic. We showed him the statement, and asked him about the loan term. As we are not from the banking industry, all we wanted was a simple explanation. But he started insulting us, as if we lacked the knowledge, and talked with us in a very condescending way. He even mocked us for not being able to understand a simple bank statement!

After seeing this attitude, we left the bank in utter disappointment. Although he did explain the loan term later, but the way of speaking with customers was disgraceful. This is certainly not the way to talk with the customer. In this world, where the business revolves around the mantra ‘Customer is King’, the bank manager’s behavior is the exact opposite of how a customer should be treated. As many customers are not from banking or business background ( especially young students who have never had a bank account in their life or even senior citizens who might not be comfortable with the use of internet, mobile banking etc), it is the duty of the banking officials to welcome the customers ( All of them, irrespective of their background), guide them if necessary and resolve their queries. That’s what the bank officials and managers are expected to do. and that is what they are being paid for!

But unfortunately, here in India, it’s the opposite. Few bank managers from some ‘Too Big To Fail’ status banks live in a cloud where they feel entitled that their position is never going to fall down, or as if they are a part of the intelligent species! I highly doubt if they even understand the meaning of customer service. While on the other side, when I was in the USA, as a young college student, I was surprised to see how bank officials ( PNC Bank, Bank of America, Discover Bank) welcome everyone with a smile ( sometimes, they even walked to the door to welcome me inside). How kindly they treat the customers, provide all the information and resolve all their concerns happily. I really do miss that experience here in India.

But the most interesting thing I find is that India which is known as the IT power, which has a major chunk of its GDP based on the service sector, and which is known to deliver excellent service to the western world, can deliver disgraceful and downgraded customer service to its own citizens? I have no answer for this. I have decided to never open a bank account or even avail any services of HDFC bank hereonwards. But at the same time I do agree that not everyone is bad, and there are some exceptional people doing their job exceptionally well. All we need is to find and appreciate them….

Author: Abhi

Hello, this is Abhishek. I am an Electrical Engineer by education, and worked for an Energy Management company in Atlanta, USA. After staying for 5 years in United States, I have moved back to my country, India. Besides work, I am a bibliophile and enjoys reading about history, current affairs, and biographies. I practice ‘Sudarshan Kriya Yoga‘ meditation and volunteer for a NGO, Art of Living. I am a vegetarian, and also a fitness enthusiast. I intend to work for spreading awareness about Cancer. Finally, I enjoy writing and I hope to integrate this interest into my career with more experience. Please like, share and subscribe to my blog. Thank you for visiting!

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