Money & Banking

Customers look for a human face

L.N. Revathy Chennai | Updated on November 05, 2011

Advancements in technology can never replace the brick and mortar branches. The customer looks for a human face, observed speakers, emphasising the importance of customer interface in banking during a session on ‘Transforming every branch sales and service performance' at Bancon 2011.

The challenges though at this juncture appear to be the human resource, especially with ageing employees in public sector banks, age-profile of the young customers with high expectations, lack of product innovation to keep pace with the technology etc.

A McKinsey & Company report has revealed that branches contribute to 60 per cent of business as opposed to alternate channels. Yet, the wide variation in terms of the business that each of the branch generated because the branch sales model varied from bank to bank, the format not designed to customer requirement/need, locational disadvantage and the brand image of the bank itself in that particular area or locality, contributed to the service and sales performance challenges in a bigger way.

Branches are traditionally seen as service points and not sales points, the research firm spokesperson said and pointed out that the branches invariably failed to recognise the ‘meeter-greeter' role. ‘This role should not be outsourced. It's importance is undermined,' he added.

To optimise branch performance, the research firm suggests fixing the right (branch) model and encouraging the staff meet customers, apart from improving aesthetics and understanding the need for establishing a branch in a particular area. Are bankers practicing this? While private banks experiment on the format, the State-run banks seem to be more focused on hooking the branches to the Core Banking Solutions (CBS) platform. ‘While network placement strategy is critical to performance, getting the model straight is equally important,' observed speakers.

Mr Ashvin Parekh, Partner, Ernst & Young said that cost management and profitability would be the biggest drivers going forward, while sustainability and transformation could emerge equally important issues. ‘The difference between European and Indian banking lies in the fact that in the latter there is lot of talking, which is neglected in the other.'

Mr N. Seshadri, Executive Director, Bank of India, said the success of the sales force would depend on the conversion rate of their selling effort. ‘Over the years most banks have rolled out products rather than look into business service efforts.'

Published on November 05, 2011

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