If you read the last blog about KLM customer service experience, then you knew that it won’t be the last one and an episode is coming soon. So, here I am again with new episode of customer service with ICICI bank. Between the last blog and this entry the change is that I watched another TV series similar to “Mumbai calling” called Outsourced. Almost the similar setup with difference between British and American outsourcing and humor. For some reason, I liked the British one, but give outsourced a try as well.
ICICI is one of the biggest private bank in India. I remember that ICICI bank spread everywhere with their offices and workforce. They not only made contracts with big corporates to open employee bank accounts, but they also had their employees working inside their boundaries. At that time, it was revolutionary. People experienced a different banking; an easier and customer friendly. The time however does not always remains the same. I am sure there were some unhappy customer earlier too, but just I never faced one before. At least not to this level of experience.
My bank accounts with ICICI exists due to different employers. As I shifted companies and cities, they opened new accounts. I never bothered about the old accounts as there was no extra work for me to keep it open. With time, the banking system changed and they added more and more measures, which probably were done with good intentions or some other policies. The same measures, on the other hand, meant more work on the customer side. E.g. I could no longer update a foreign mobile number from website, in case I am travelling for project work. Then, I was not allowed to change even my Indian mobile number without paying a visit to a branch or to an ATM. Which I did not mind till they introduced mobile OTP verification for almost every transaction. This meant that I was keeping my Indian mobile active for 8 years all the time, while I was travelling for project work. All of this was still ok, till the time it was working…
I went to bank every single time I went to India from my projects to give the application to change my mobile number. Somehow, it failed 3 times and that meant 3 years! Next time, I was in India for little longer duration. I again filled the application, gave documents and submitted it to the bank. I was told in 24-48 hours it will be done. After 5 days, no change. I went to the bank again and they told me it is because my mobile number is already registered, but with another account. Now bank does not allow to register the same mobile number in different accounts. I was shocked! I asked then how come do you allow to open different accounts for the same person? Do you expect a customer to keep different mobile numbers for each account? The guy had no idea what to answer. I submitted another application with mobile number which my mother was using. I travelled again. No surprise, it did not work again. I escalated the case and the discussion went something like this.
Me: My number is still not activated. I submitted it 4 times in last 4 years!
Bank: Sorry sir, if you want to update your mobile, then please submit new application in our branch personally with an ID proof.
Me: Really!!! You expect me to travel to India to give the application, which I submitted 4 times and bank cannot get it processed.
Bank: Sir , sorry for inconvenience. But, for the security of your account, we do not allow to update foreign mobile numbers. For that please get your documents verified and sent a post to our head office.
Me: Are you kidding me. I did not give any foreign number. It was an Indian number. I am not sending any post anywhere.
Bank_level_2 : Sorry for the inconvenience sir. We will update your Indian number, but please send another application to the given address.
Me : Seriously! Alright, I will send any post anywhere you ask. Give me on official letter that ICICI could not process my mobile number update application and ICICI will pay for every International courier that I sent.
Bank_level_3 : Sorry for the inconvenience sir. Which number do you want to update?
After few more emails it got updated!
On my recent visit I tried to close the account and realized that the staf’s awareness of their system is just too low. To close the account I faced many issues, which I will try to list as points.
Update mobile number:
Me: I need to update mobile number, but I do not have ATM card. Please give me the application form to update mobile number.
Bank: You can do it on your mobile app or by ATM machine!!!
Me: Are you listening to me? I do not have an ATM and I need to update mobile. Does your mobile app work without mobile number verification?
Bank: Oh. Here is the form.
My city branch informed me that I have something called as DEMAT account active. It must be closed before closing bank account. The current branch does not handle DEMAT so go to another city. I went to another city, I was told it is closed already. What??? I travelled 100km for nothing! At the same time I noticed that in this branch this person was giving wrong information to another customer. I was sitting next to it and corrected it. Those guys thanked me 🙂 Back to my city with proof of closure. She said again, it is open and active. I asked which account. Apparently, the open account is called Trading account. I learned from my brother ( who works in finance industry) that trading account is internal account number and DEMAT runs on top of it. 5 years ago I submitted application to close by DEMAT account, but they processed it without closing internal accounts! Finally got the mobile number updated after 5 days. Called customer care and got my trading account closed.
Me: My new ATM card did not reach home, please request it again.
Bank : Please raise a request through ATM machine.
Me: Are you crazy! Will I put my fingers in ATM machine!!
Bank: So make a new application.
Me: No, because you will charge me fee.
Bank: With attitude – Then what do you expect from us!!
Me: My ATM card delivered to me. Finally got it done through customer care number, who told me that branch should do it and they keep on getting such calls because of incompetency of branch people.
ATM card delivery:
Me: Checked on post office site that my ATM is delivered to branch as requested. I went the next day and asked about it.
Bank: No, we do not have it (Without even checking it)
Me: But it is delivered as per post office.
Bank : Do you have proof? Show it to me. After I showed it on post office website; check in another branch, post office guys never do proper work.
Me: Went to another branch. It was not there. Next day morning went to post office and requested them to give me photo of the delivery proof. I went to bank again.
Bank: We don’t have it. (I showed proof with branch stamp on it. ) We don’t have it. You will get message from us when it is ready.
Me: I will escalate to manager
Bank: Please have a seat sir! (with folded hands and bent back). Please leave your mobile number and I will contact you!
Finally, I managed to get both of my accounts closed. It was even more complicated due to involvement of some investments and linkages to other accounts. I was happy when it all got done. I went one day to meet branch manager to make a complaint against the employee who replied with attitude. The branch manager started with his own sweet stories how they get amazing feedback from customers and how he can easily go out of India and does need to work here. He called the guy I mentioned in his office and told him that I have complaint against him. The guy said, I do not think there was any lack of service! The branch manager, then asked me if they can open any Zero balance account for me or other products. I looked at him and smiled. Not this time at least. Enough is enough!
I am not saying that every transaction is so bad. This is just my experience. Although I did observe another people in similar situations during my visits. When I went to another branch for checking my ATM card, I met another guy who helped me with all the future transactions. It was an amazing experience there. I understand that system is way more complex today than before. I do not expect that first level bank employees or even personal bankers to know their products, even if it is as simple a thing as updating mobile number. But, what surprised me was the realization of the theory that less a person knows, more arrogant he can be and vice-versa (with exceptions). On top of it, the next level people do not even want to put an effort to get it improved. Maybe those guys are tired of improving and talking to such employees. It is hard to say what is going on inside.
It was a frustrating experience overall. However, during these transactions, there were times when I found a person to share a smile. I hope I would remember those smiles more, especially when I have no more accounts to close with ICICI.
Mulla Nasrudin climbed into a barber’s chair and asked, “Where’s the barber who used to work on the next chair?” “Oh, that was a sad case,” the barber said. “He became so nervous and despondent over poor business, that one day when a customer said he didn’t want a massage, he went out of his mind and cut the customer’s throat with a razor. He is now in the state mental hospital. By the way, would you like a massage, Sir?” “ABSOLUTELY!” said Mulla Nasrudin.