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Banking on Feedback: Why IT Must Know their Potential Customers

Ershad Kaleebullah | Jan. 15, 2013
ING Vysya Bank's CIO C.V.G Prasad believes that listening to the problems of end customers is vital and that it has become a part and parcel of IT's change agenda.

If you're appalled--like many of your peers--you're probably thinking: Why, why should my team talk to customers? It's not their job. But if you're amazed, then you'd fall into a smaller bracket of CIOs who are scouting for opportunities to better customer service and partner with the business--like Prasad. "If you believe in true partnership with your business, listening to the problems of end customers--either by meeting them personally or other means--is vital. It has to become a part and parcel of IT's change agenda," says Prasad.

Which is why, at ING Vysya Bank, when a prospective client meeting demands the attention of the IT team, Prasad ensures that they are present with the business team. For example, if the wholesale banking team wants to sell a new payment product to a prospective customer, they would probably want to understand the bank's technology platform, its systems, and potential security issues. "As a result, the IT team forms part of the pre-sales team of the business," he says.

Not many CIOs believe that. For the most part, supporting the business has been the primary function of CIOs. Meeting external customers and interacting with them to understand their pain points was never an IT leader's priority. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be. Ask Prasad and he'll tell you why CIOs and their teams can no longer be back-end boys tinkering with the nuts and bolts. "Today, there's fierce competition. CIOs and IT teams need to be much more attuned to the needs of the customer," he says.

To get a head start in that direction, Prasad turned to a feedback collection mechanism that ING Vysya Bank uses called the Net Promoter Score, which distils positive user responses from the negative ones. "With this process, we identify a set of customer touchpoints, and whenever an event occurs, feedback is taken immediately." It was the net promoter score approach that pointed to the need to change one of the banks' vital processes: Issuing new debit cards and PIN numbers. Titled 'Customer First', the initiative was rolled out after the company's call center was submerged by requests to block lost debit cards, and re-issue new PIN numbers. New cards and PIN numbers were issued about a week or so after a complaint is registered at a call center. This was a time-consuming and cumbersome process.

"We wanted to fix that and make it more customers friendly. We analyzed customer complaint data and tried to find a solution to speed up the process. We introduced 'insta-card' and 'insta-pin'. Now, a customer can walk into a branch and get a new debit card or a PIN across the counter and its activated by the end of the day," says Prasad.

 

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