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Sunday, September 14, 2008

How may I help you? vs. Ki bepare ashchen?

It might not be Customer Service month, but i had an interesting experience recently at a bank and thought i would share it with other fellow bloggers. Appreciate your feedback and comments.
Best Regards,
The other day I was headed to one of the Foreign Banks in Bangladesh where I maintain an account. Given my tight work schedule and the banks operating hours, it becomes quite a challenge for me to do any banking. The only time I manage to drop in is usually at about 9:00 AM in the morning. One particular morning I managed to get to the bank at about 8:45 AM. At the entrance I was greeted by a ill-mannered security guard who exclaimed "You cant enter the bank before 9:00 AM". I stood out for the next twenty minutes watching the banks employees arrive one after another. The security guard eventually opened the gate at about 9:05. I took a seat at the front desk where I waited unattended. A few minutes later, a lady arrived at the scene with this "I am having a bad day frown" and asked "Ki Bapare Ashchen?" I was astonished!

In an identical scenario a few months back at around the same time in a bank in Colombo, Sri Lanka, something different happened. A bank teller who spotted me waiting outside summoned the security guard to open the door, after which he welcomed me in. There were warm smiles from all corners of the room. I was delighted at this red carpet treatment. What followed was even more remarkable. Shortly, the same teller accompanied me to come to the counter where he processed my request, and this was done at 8:50 AM when the bank was still not open. I walked out with a smile. What a way to start the day. The bank had exceeded my expectations not once but twice.

"Ki Bapare Ashchen" seems to be a very common phrase wherever you go in Bangladesh be it private, public or even a foreign owned enterprise. We Bangladeshis claim to be such friendly, warm people. In fact even if there is one thing that foreign tourists are full of praise about us is our hospitability. However in the instances such as the scenario I described above we seem to tend to forget about who we really are.

Customer Service is a widely misunderstood and misused concept in Bangladesh. Service level is not just delivered at the transaction stage and after sales stage of a product or service- rather across all customer touch points. In today's era of commoditization and emergence of me-too culture, service quality can be a key differentiator. It's unfortunate that very few companies in Bangladesh see such potential in service. Theodore Levitt once said "There is no such thing as service industries. There are only industries whose service components are greater or less than those of other industries. Everybody is in Service."

In one of his books, Philip Kotler explained the importance of three F's of service marketing: fast, flexible and friendly. He states any company can use these three F's as a base to develop appropriate service levels. Meeting your customers expectations is good, exceeding it is will take you one step closer to greatness. It's a small world out there, satisfied customers can give your business an unexpected leverage, while you are busy spending heaps on other marcom channels. Still convinced about your customer service? Try giving a call to your customer service helpline asking about an unusual problem? Better get a tough friend to do some mystery shopping. You will be surprised. So the next time you meet a customer or a prospect, smile and say "How may I help you?" Remember Peter Drucker's famous line, your business is all about other people's money. Be nice!
Jeeshan Mirza


Anonymous said...

just be glad you got what you asked for. Atleast there was someone there and stop judging them of they don't greet you as a Maharajah. Chances are you are customer number 3 billion for that day and the teller is tired.

Although I am surprised this happened at a foreign bank. For the priveledge of ripping you off for their charges, you would expect to be treated as a Maharajah. I have found local banks to be more accomodating in terms of charges and service. There is only so much of bragging about a Standard Chartered or HSBC account will get you until you realize just how fast your account empties.

So the some stupidity lies in you for paying snobbish fees and expecting maharajah service.

Rumi said...

I get the feeling in banks that all the tellers r so much frustrated to see/do transaction of money wch is not their own.
Imagine how would u feel if u had to w8 for 45 minitues to deposite money in your a/c

Red & Green said...

But there is something like a smile factor. They don't smile, perhaps it is not written in their job description, perhaps the daily traffic and market prices wipe the smile off their faces, perhaps it is not in our culture to smile at unknown people at first sight and when a smile exchange takes place between opposite genders, it arouses even more suspicion and surprise rather than comfort and friendliness. I went to Bank Asia's Dhanmondi branch two weeks back, the staff didn't even bother to make eye contact, let alone smile, as if they were dealing with the ghost customer in me, invisible and insignificant.

parvez said...

Few months back I went to South East Bank Gulshan Branch to collet my Bank account statement at around 11 A.M. As soon as I entered the bank I went to the desk where I used to go everytime. The person sitting behind the desk told me to sit for a while when I asked for the statement. His mood was as if I did a big mistake to come to his desk at that moment.Anyway after few mins he showed me a room behind his desk and told me to ask someone on that room for statement. I stood up and started to walk in to the room but door was locked. So again I came to his desk and told him the fact. He became angry with me and told me to sit here few more mins. And after 15 mins someone came from that room to attend my request. I got NO SMILE, NO HELLO, NO COMFORT AND 25 MINS LATE SERVICE from this branch. They kept "Service" in the bookshelf. -Parvez

Jeeshan said...

Thanks for your sharing your experiences and feedback.
Anonymous, no one is asking for a maharaja treatment. All we need is to be treated like a customer and get our job done efficiently. They are making money from us, can we not ask for some decent service? Having a billion customers a day is no excuse. Just go across the border there are banks dealing with ten times more people providing world class service.

Thanks for your tip though, i will look into the possibility of opening an account at a a local bank- any suggestions?

saman said...

well for me, I basically switched to the most obvious bank from HSBC. If you don't realize what it is by being in Dhaka then don't bother switching. (my head was in the HSBC sand for sometime too).

The fees HSBC charged was ridiculous. But it makes sense because their main business in Bangladesh is not personal banking but foreign trade. Personal banking is just a high margin icing for foreign banks because of their brand.

Insps said...

just a little advise to you admins:


I like the articles, but I have to wait once in a blue moon to get something out of you guys.

The blog takes too much time to update. Its not regular and I think that's what is hindering it and may finally kill it.

Blogsultant said...

Thanks for your valuable feedback insps. We are trying our best, however we believe we need to promote the blog a bit more to create more awareness among potential bloggers. Also the fact remains that most prefer to read only and write less. Nevertheless, with readers like you on board, we shall never let the blog sink. Thanks again for your readership.

Anonymous said...

Working in one of these "foreign banks" makes me feel how unwelcome I am to post amongst you all pissed-off-by-bd-bankings. But Couldn't resist myself after seeing where the dicussion (or I'd rather call it few perspectives or observations)is heading to.

First of all, the title. As the blogger himself said "how may I help you" would be a better replacement for ki bepare ashchhen, I second that. Again, according Kotler's 3Fs of Svc Mktg, the local phrases work much better, faster, and natural. I do not deny that a smiling face is a must and the customer is always right, yet, when you compare banks within and beyond borders, is there anyone standing who can say banking outside was more customised and on your favour? We do things for you even when a slight deviation from the baking regulation is needed, because you were waiting for your last hour to arrive for bank statement on the very last day of the extended tax submission session, or apply for purbachal at the last minute because you were damn busy?

Of course their service is by the book which makes you familiar with what you learn from marketing maestros, but are the customers up to the standard to get a world class service?



Mohammad said...

HSBC has the worst service ever.
Many incidents, once went to make a bank draft, I was at front of the queue and the girl ... she is doing something else for at least 10 mins (my time has no value) and then she started looking at my form. Now She is saying "why you write in the middle? "(I wish i can show you the form ... where i have to write 2 currencies) As i am not filling up such form regularly ... she could behave much better (at least ).

Story 2:
I gave a cheque to one of my friend. Then my friend called me and inform that "Bank guy is saying my signature is not matching"

Immediately I went to bank (1 hour) and asked the counter guy ... he then forward me to another "customer service" girl. That CS person told me that I have to go to the bank where i open my account (that might kill another 1 hour). I requested her to open their system and check what's wrong so that i can sign again. And guess what happened then she realize both are same, and I got the money spending almost 3 hours and my signature is very simple no way i can't reproduce. There explanation i took less space to sign ... how can i get more space in a cheque