Skip nav to main content.

Is experience the new luxury in digital banking?

Posted In:

Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Twenty years ago, I used to visit bank branches for almost everything. To deposit and withdraw cash, present my cheques for clearing, request a chequebook, print my statement on my passbook, make a demand draft or banker’s cheque. I visited a bank at least twice or thrice a week. When I was in my first job, I allocated the morning hours of Saturday specifically to visit my bank branch.

But today, I can do all my regular transactions online. I literally don’t have a reason to visit a branch.

Banks more or less are becoming a liability unless they offer an experience in their physical spaces. The experience that they can offer is for another post.

Given that most of us don’t visit a bank branch, and do most of our transactions online, how do you as a bank offer a more empathy-centric connection with your customers?

That is a question that needs to be looked at by every bank.

Let me give you an example.

I make a UPI transaction, the transaction is successful and the money gets debited from my account. However, the payee doesn’t receive it in his account. The payee keeps calling me stating that it is not credited even after a week. The money that got debited from my account hasn’t got reversed either.

I share my transaction ID details with the payee. The payee is a baby boomer and not very tech-savvy. So, he says that he doesn’t know what to do with it.

Now, I try to help him. So, I decided to call up my banks’ customer care number. As soon as I called up the number, I was told that it is a chargeable call, and the charges would be Rs. 9 per minute. It takes me twenty minutes to get connected to a human agent. After a couple of minutes, the agent sends me the same transaction ID details that I had access to on my mobile application.

I was stuck. So, I requested this gentleman to visit his bank branch and provide them with this transaction ID. With that, they should be able to trace the money. Luckily, they were able to credit it to his account.

I was furious with this experience. It is not that my bank was at fault, but the fact that they are charging me a premium to speak to me on the phone.

How else could they have handled this experience?

With my phone number, they should ideally know that I have been their customer for the past 17 years and that too a premium customer at that. Armed with that information, they should not have charged me a premium for my call, and they should have connected me to a customer service agent immediately without making me wait for 20 minutes.

I would have felt more comfortable with this experience.

I am sure that in this case, my bank couldn’t have helped me any better beyond giving me the transaction ID.  But still, the way I was made to wait and pay for waiting was not reasonable.

What else can the bank do?

Chatbots for specific use cases – The UPI transactions are increasing by leaps and bounds in India. The bank could have just had a chatbot on their site specifically addressing UPI transaction queries. The chatbot would have done in less than a minute what it took for the call center to do in 25 minutes.

Another use case could be, with a chatbot, you can help your customers choose the most suitable insurance policy for their personal or business needs.

Explainer videos – simplify financial concepts with explainer videos. How do I make NEFT, RTGS, or IMPS transactions? Why should I choose one over the other? How do I open a Demat account? How do I invest my money in mutual funds?

There are several unanswered questions currently. The explainer videos can help address most of them.

Website and mobile app as the main touchpoint – you don’t have better real estate than your website or mobile app. Make them the face of your customer service, and allow your customers to search for what they want easily. For instance, if I am interested in personal loan products, the website should be the place to go. 

Recommendation engine – when you opt for a mortgage loan, do you understand the risks that you are putting your nominee or legal heirs in case of an unlikely event. So, suggest an insurance product to cover the risk of the loan. The same should be the case for every loan that the customer takes.

Credit is an asset – credit is the only asset that the bank has, and credit availability is the biggest success factor for MSMEs. How do you make it easily available for them? Have relationship managers focused specifically on MSMEs and help them achieve their objectives with the availability of credit.


Using digital channels, there are a lot more things that can be done with the data available, the level of personalization that you can provide, and the kind of promotions that you can run specifically for different target groups.

Omnichannel in digital parlance is called Omni-digital where every digital channel is integrated to offer the best possible customer experiences.

Every bank with the data available would come across at least half-a-dozen new use cases every day, and the resolutions to those should be automated as a part of its digital customer experience.

This way, most things a customer wants, needs, or desires would be available with the self-service options, which would prevent them from calling the customer service agents.


About the Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan


Uthaman believes in the power of creation - it gives him a high to grow something from scratch and make it sustainable. Uthaman is the Executive Vice President and helps set the strategic direction and roadmap for ClearTouch, a pioneering provider of a cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs, and financial services companies in India.