Standard of Customer Service can improve by adding small helps
I would like to draw your attention towards some important points for improvement of standard of customer service in general for all and for elders in particular. Banks may develop software updation for sending alert on Senior Citizen / Minor Account getting Major or senior in India. In absence of it senior citizen face a number of problems and suffers loss.
Senior Citizen:— In this digitalised and technologically advanced era BANKS should be IN A POSITION to know when their customers are attaining the senior age and they can extend all senior age benefits to them without awaiting a formal request from the customer. And if there is any technical problem in doing so, they can at least inform the customer by SMS asking them to visit their home branch to understand about the benefits viable to senior citizen or they can send message containing all benefits accruing to seniors. Their innovative step will not only give comfort to elders but also help in making the branch of the bank more popular. as also in increasing the business of the branch
Minor Account:- Similarly, very few banks are inviting their customer on completion of 18 years of age to complete required formalities. Banks can inform minor as well as registered guardian of the minor that guardian will no longer be allowed to operate the a/c of the minor and hence it is desirable that minor turned major furnish signature for bank’s record and complete due process before a cut-off date for smooth continuation of this a/c in future. This small act will not only give relief to minor and his guardian but also save bank from legal complication. Present position is very pathetic and unlawful that a guardian is operating a minor account even after minor attaining age of major. Banks are neither freezing minor account for operation nor sending any notice to guardian.
Deceased Account:- Similarly in case of demise of a married person or on receipt of such information, bank should immediately inform the nominee or widow or spouse about the benefit which widows are entitled . They can post one detailed letter conveying specified date from which they can enjoy certain privileges which banks will provide to account of widow. They may send detailed process for settlement of death claim to the survivor along with copy of retired forms and required legal formalities like death certificate, list of survivors, list of claimants,succession certificate as the case may be. At the same time bank should assign the duty of settlement of such death claim to an officer so that customer i.e. widow need not face much problem. Present position is that widow already in pain after death of her husband has to run from pillar to post for months and years in getting payment of money held in the account of her deceased husband.
In view of the above, RBI should issue fresh guidelines to all banks to upgrade their software on urgent basis and also put proper mechanism to monitor execution of their guidelines in toto and in turn spirit. For this purpose, a dedicated RBI department should start monitoring required improvement in the system after fixing an agreed time frame.
Loan Account Statement:- It is also a fact that almost each household would have some sorts of Loans with a Bank or any other financial institution . Even senior citizen are also availing loans from banks/ FIs. But there is no doubt in int that there are many difficulties in collecting loan statement from a bank or FI because whenever they visit these entities, they have to come out empty handed due to some reason or the other put forward by bankers. Reason behind is some time printer is not working, sometime concerned staff is not present, sometime lease line is not available, sometime software is under modification or they will give some other excuses showing that they are busy in some other important works.
It becomes very difficult for old persons in visiting branches frequently. In such position , it is the duty of each branch of each bank that they send a statement periodically to each loan and at least to senior citizens. This act bank will not only give some relief to loanees but also help banks in stopping loan account turning substandard. Here it is important that bank may also get an opportunity to obtain Debt Confirmation Certificate from loanee and keep their loan documents legally enforceable and away from getting time barred. Bank can send statement of loan account on registered emails also to save paper work and postal expenses.
SMS Facility:- Due to whatever reason SMS facility is now a charged service whereas loanees or seniors don't have any transaction except EMI payment hence they do not opt for Paid- SMS service. Here it is pertinent to say that banks are earning from Borrowers at least from those who are regular in repayment and who are paying timely interest . Hence banks should not charge such borrowers for SMS in acknowledging EMI payments. Bank can rather send message regarding change in interest rate on SMS and call customers for execution of fresh documentation . They can send SMS to customers regarding hike in deposit rates or about new policies beneficial to customers. In this way free SMS facility will prove helpful for bank and also attract blessings from customers.
It is interesting to note that on the basis of instructions from RBI, IBA had requested all its members to issue operational guidelines vide its circular dated 13th November 2009 to ensure that there is a system for providing borrowers with account statement on annual basis. Subsequently, this was also part of the recommendations of Damodaran Committee Report. However in absence of proper monitoring it did not get implemented which is an honest ground reality
RBI department should monitor physical loan statement dispatch for next three years then from fourth year it will become practice. The dedicated RBI team should ask all loan providers to provide delivery confirmation in the month of April every year as to how many Loan Accounts are there and what percentage of statement dispatch was successful.
This would help in improving KYC of customers whom the statement was not delivered due to address change, door close, consignee shifted, no such consignee etc. These customers can in turn be reached out via sms to update their current address. This practice if followed honestly, it will help banks in maintaining good health of loan accounts and in time repayment from defaulters and absconders.
Issue of TDS/ Interest Certificates:- Similarly I draw the attention of bankers on issuance of TDS certificates /Interest accrued and paid certificates to their depositors . Each person or company or a firm which keeps deposits in banks in form of FD or any term deposit , they have to account for interest in their Income Tax assessment and it is the duty of bankers to furnish it in time. But in fact , despite much upgradation in technology , bankers are not furnishing TDS certificate or Interest Certificate to their clients without asking and forcing clients to visit their branch several times. In such cases , banks can send a SMS to their clients after end of a FY that their such certificates are ready for delivery. Customers can visit the branch on specified date or ask for postal despatch of the same.
I am confident that all banks and all staff of the bank will take the above message in good spirit and use it for improvement of standard of customer service as well as that of bank’s business, health of loan assets and image of the bank.
Disclaimer: [The articles written by author contains only the academic view of the writer and purely for discussions and updation of the knowledge of the bankers. The views expressed in the articles may not at all be subscribed by the organisation where the author is working and / or AllBankingSolutions.com]