5 Lessons in Digital Transformation from a PSU Bank Visit

Birender Singh

Birender Singh

For digital transformation to happen, it’s important to implement the latest technologies and ensure that they contribute to specific business measures. My recent visit to a PSU bank revealed a lot of gaps that need to be filled for the transformation to be effective.

I recently visited a large PSU bank for some work. Since I was visiting after a long time, I was pleasantly surprised to see the entire place completely revamped. Spanking new furniture, better lighting and air-conditioning, an automated token kiosk with a customers’ waiting area, and even single window service counters! I surely hoped after seeing all this for an equal improvement in the bank’s service levels. Unfortunately, that’s where the trouble began.

The so called single window service counters didn’t really do single window servicing, and I had to hop counters located across two floors to get my work done. Whatever forms I had to fill were spread out on different tables situated in ‘hard-to-reach’ corners of the bank, with nobody around to help. I had to give photo copies of certain documentary evidence, for which I had to rush out of the branch to a local photocopy shop.

I had to continuously ask the executive at each counter I went to for the next steps, who would then direct me to another counter. And while the bank executive was attending to my request, other customers kept jostling in from the sides to interrupt and push forth their own service requests. Even the bank manager seemed hassled because the bank’s employees kept directing every other customer to him. In other words, the place was a mayhem as always, and nobody (be it the bank’s employees, manager, or customers) seemed satisfied with the state of affairs. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the connectivity also went for a toss in between, and everything came to a stand-still!

What went wrong here in this age of digital transformation? Even though the bank has all the new technologies in place, their customer experience, or for that matter, even their own employees’ experience, seemed to be very poor.

There are quite a few lessons to be learnt from this for all companies moving forward on their digital transformation journey:

Lesson 1: It’s NOT about technology

So while Digital Transformation involves using emerging technologies (like analytics, social media, mobility, etc.), the end objective is to improve an organization’s performance (be it business or employee efficiency) or reach. So it’s actually about business first and technology second. Even though this bank has all technologies one could think of, there was still mayhem in the branch and customer experience was very poor. For instance, if it’s single window servicing, it should mean single window servicing. It means a smooth integration of all products and services offered by the bank across all channels. So if one customer comes and says he’s lost his ATM pin for instance, then the bank’s executive should be able to raise the service request then and there and either send the customer a new pin on his mobile immediately, or send him an intimation that a new pin is being couriered across to his registered address. If another customer comes to submit KYC details, then the same window should ensure that he/she doesn’t have to run out to get a photo-copy done. In this case, the bank staff kept putting the ball back in the customers’ court, who would get muddled in all the things they had to do and finally land up in the bank manager’s cabin!

Lesson 2: A Culture of Continuous Improvement is Essential

Change management has always been a serious issue in any organization, even if something small is introduced. Since Digital Transformation is no small change, but a paradigm shift, companies have to deal with it in the same manner. Charity begins from home, so for customer facing organizations like the PSU bank, staff has to be first trained to handle all service requests with equal ease, which then have to be measured and improvised continuously. In other words, there’s first a need to transform internal operational processes before looking at customer facing ones. Employees have to be told how they’re doing, what they’re doing well and where they need to improve, without necessarily making it sound like a ‘fault-finding’ mission.

Lesson 3: Know your Customers

If you don’t know your customer, then any amount of technology will just not help, and in today’s day and age, you can use analytics to analyze various metrics about your customers. In the bank example for instance, metrics could be pulled against the number of customers being serviced and type of service requests by each bank executive every day. If it’s not being measured, then that’s probably the first thing to do. This data should then be analyzed to identify training requirements, staff sufficiency, etc. Another metric linked to this is performance management. When you have real data about your customers and not assumptions, it will help improve both internal processes and customer-facing ones.

Lesson 4: Learn from Competition

Competition is probably the best teacher for any enterprise, so studying their overall growth and measuring it against one’s own can help companies in identifying their own short-comings. It’s immaterial whether competition is using more technologies than you are. What’s important is to analyze how effective are they in terms of improving their business growth, employee efficiency, cost reduction, etc. A single window service in another private bank for instance, provides chairs on each counter for their customers. This little change alone ensures that customers don’t have to hop to multiple counters.

Lesson 5: Provide a Uniform Experience

If there’s one thing to be learnt from fast-food chains like McDonalds or Haldirams, then it’s the ability to offer a uniform experience. You get the same type of service and processes at all joints, and even the taste of the food is same everywhere. Why can’t other industries learn from it? The PSU bank branch I visited was located in a lower middle income class area. I’m sure that in case of this PSU bank, my experience of the service levels would be totally different if I went to another branch located in a posh locality. It’s true that the customer who’s coming to this branch may not be as tech-savvy, but that’s where the real acid test of technology usage comes for the bank.

After all, digital transformation is about bringing an enterprise-wide change that impacts the entire system and not just parts of it!