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Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
A.Sandeep Editor’s Desk
India needs to be abreast of the global environment in the banking arena; convenience at banking has to be given prime importance
These are the times where we are witnessing path breaking innovations supported by technology and entrepreneurship approach in almost all walks of life. So be it in field of telecommunications, the way cricket is viewed and perceived, or be it the banking & financial industry.

Banking no longer is viewed as a stable and hence a non-innovative field, things have changed a lot over the last 15 years. That the ‘Customer is King’ truly holds good with the banking sector as well. Gone are the times when one had to walk into a branch to get their passbook updated, now customers have the delivery by pressing a few buttons on his mobile or their laptops.

The concept that a customer does not walk into a bank branch but the bank comes to the customer is reality now – doorstep banking where banks reach out to the customer for cash/remittance transactions is a ‘must have’ product.

Ease of transacting has become basic to banking – hence withdrawing from any bank’s ATM or receiving instant messages on your mobile on any transaction in your account or daily wealth portfolio movement and stock market updates are offered by any bank now. These are the times that India needs to be abreast with the global environment in the banking arena thus convenience at banking has to be given prime importance – thus, banking truly comes under the ‘service’ segment.

All new service channels are evolving, making things easier for the customer; but the ‘branch’ continues to be in existence and is a popular banking channel for transactions. Thus, innovations in branch banking are also evolving. Extended servicing hours, open on holidays/Sundays, premium servicing lounge are customer expectations in addition to non-branch delivery channels.

Customers now have ample choice, not just within banks but within segments of banks – foreign, private sector or public sector banks. While customers approach various types of banks depending on their requirements, the key to maintaining and increasing market shares by any bank is to customise themselves to customer needs.

While that may be simply, banks in today’s scenario have to manage a suite of products, which makes consistent quality of service delivery extremely critical. Hence, the measurement of service quality is an important ‘health’ vector for a bank. While we might think this is critical in consumer banking, this is as critical for corporate customers as well. The vectors that one measures and monitors might vary across customer groups but the importance of it does not.

The rural markets are not left behind in service innovation. With the quantum of market share resting in the rural areas, these segments cannot be ignored and hence both the government and banks are taking ample initiatives to cater to the rural segment. Be it biometric ATMs or prepaid cards, now even the rural customer is kept in mind while developing the products to meet his requirement. Truly, banks are coming up with innovative products and services purely with rural customers in mind.

We are seeing that regulators are playing a critical role ensuring customers do get value for money and get delivery as per banks’ promises. At the bank’s level, this is done by creating bodies like a Banking Ombudsman wherein customers can approach in case of mis-sell or delivery issues. This gets the banks to proactively measure service delivery. This is evident on the assets side as well – be it credit cards or home loan offerings to customers.

With the suite of products that banks are offering and the ever increasing competitive environment, the sector is trying to enhance tools to cater to the customer through his life cycle and hence ensuring a larger share of wallet from the customer.

Like I said already, the key to that is banks being innovative, preempting the requirements and offering products, which are better than those in the open market and ensuring smooth delivery. Well, what else could a customer ask for!

Vandana Alagh Khanna, Head – Service Assurance, IndusInd Bank
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