Customer-Centric Approach in Retail Banking Is the Way Forward, Says the Finance Minister of India
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said banks must adopt a customer-centric approach by understanding their needs and expectations.
She further added after the soft launch of Enhanced Access and Service Excellence – EASE 5.0 that, technology initiatives and robust security mechanisms should be developed.
Implementation of EASE 5.0 should bring ease for customers as well as employees.
Speaking at the event, Financial Services Secretary Sanjay Malhotra said all PSBs are now profitable and have stronger balance sheets. They must leverage this position of strength to increase their competitiveness significantly.
Under EASE 5.0, PSBs will continue to invest in new-age capabilities and deepen the ongoing reforms to respond to evolving customer needs, changing competition, and the technology environment.
EASE 5.0 will focus on digital customer experience, and integrated and inclusive banking, with emphasis on supporting small businesses and agriculture.
Evolution of banking
Banking has undergone substantial digital transformation, and EASE 5.0 is the initiative to lead PSBs through the digital transformation.
The best part of EASE is that it focuses on customer service, customer experience, and customer-centric operations.
The customer is at the center of everything the banks will continue to do under EASE.
The earlier versions of EASE have helped the banks in all reforms – most notably in innovative lending, prudent banking, and tech-enabled ease of banking.
Banking in the initial days was restricted to class banking, and in the late 60s and early 70s, all the Public Sector Banks turned towards mass banking. Since then, the stress on the PSBs has been enormous in providing services to customers.
While the private sector focused mainly on class banking and hence was able to address customers’ needs well.
So, the public sector also started focusing on class banking in the 90s, but the advent of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna in the last 7 or 8 years has again stressed the infrastructure of PSBs in providing customer service.
However, with EASE, PSBs have been asked to focus on providing customer service through digital transformation. The icing on the cake is that PSBs have strong balance sheets today, allowing them to focus on customer experience.
Customer-centric approach in banking – what should PBSs do?
Here are my thoughts on some of the basic things that PSBs should do to provide better customer service.
- Enable accessibility of their Internet banking solutions. Most PSBs have a robust core banking solution – only the accessibility needs improvement
- Have self-help kiosks at every branch to handle transactional stuff like deposits, withdrawals, statement printing, balance inquiry, cheque book requests, cheque clearances, and submitting KYC documents
- Invest in a cloud-based contact center platform and staff them with agents who are conversant in local languages and English
- Ensure tight integration between your core banking solutions, CRM, helpdesk, and customer experience functions. This would allow you to have a single view of your customers, and the customers will never have to repeat themselves across any channel that they use to communicate
Overall, the Achilles heel for PSBs has always been their inability to provide the best possible customer experience. Customers have always been considered an afterthought in their scheme of things.
We have crossed the first few hurdles in customer service by acknowledging that there are challenges in it, and it needs improvement. This is laid by the Finance Ministry in EASE 5.0 with clearly defined needs to improve customer service through the adoption of digital transformation.
I am excited about the transformation in the next few years with PSBs. PSBs can make the benefits of banking reach not just the creamy layers but across the country.