Public sector banks in hard-sell for customers | india | Hindustan Times
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Public sector banks in hard-sell for customers

Indian banks are now changing their look and feel to accommodate this customer’s increasing demand, reports BS Srinivasalu Reddy.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2008 21:53 IST
BS Srinivasalu Reddy
BS Srinivasalu Reddy
Hindustan Times

Customer is king. And Indian banks are now changing their look and feel to accommodate this customer’s increasing demand.

Right from having a cup of coffee in an in-house café at a bank to reading books and playing on the internet, all while discussing business with the bank’s official, are just some ideas that are being implemented to increase footfalls.

Surprisingly, it is public sector Union Bank of India that is planning to implement it in a big way even as some private sector banks are still in the planning stage for such facilities. Union Bank of India has already drawn up plans for rolling out the concept in 100 select branches by March 2009.

“This is part of our aim to give the best of products and services to our customers. After making anywhere and anytime banking available through our 2,500 branches by March 2008, we are embarking on this new branch design concept,” said Union Bank of India CEO MV Nair.

The bank plans to adopt a three-zone design for each branch. The customer enters the self-service lobby banking area, after that he or she comes to the manned branch, and the third is the discovery area, where the customer can acquaint himself or herself with products and services of the bank. A self-service lobby (lobby banking) area offers round-the-clock service through interactive systems—automated teller machines (ATMs), cash deposit systems, Internet and payment kiosks, phone banking facility and passbook printer.

“This customer-centric approach was planned in line with the growing aspirations of the middle and upper class customers of our bank. They want choice of time and channels through which they would like to pass a particular transaction,” Nair added.

“A bank’s branch is one of the most valuable assets of a bank. For deriving the maximum benefit, branch design should aim for an experience that compels customers to interact freely with the environment and explore product offerings,” Sunil Udupa, president and CEO of AGS Infotech, which offers lobby banking and European style branch design concepts to Indian banks, told HT.

According to some global surveys, 80 per cent of bank sales take place through branches. Unfortunately the officer who was supposed to introduce the bank’s products to a customer, sits at the far end of the office in several branches in India.

“The concept of zoning the branches is being borrowed from retail stores, which fine tuned the concept over several decades. When you enter a retail store, wares are arranged in a set pattern—perfumes, watches, payment counters, clothing etc, in such a way to attract the attention of key family members as they enter. We are trying to adopt a similar concept for banks,” said Udupa.