As a customer we are being served more by technology than by people than ever before.
We are experiencing this in every form of service that we receive.
In the mid 1980s on arrival in UK from India for a one year stay, it became evident how technology was easing our lives.
The India of that time was moving towards better technology, but had some catching up to do. Since then much has changed and India has now caught up and even moved ahead in some areas. But things were different in the mid 1980s.
The technology advantage of services being provided to a consumer in UK was evident.
A reflection of the gap between a developed economy and a developing one.
We had carried travelers cheques. Credit cards were yet to become commonly available in India. In England we for the first time started using a bank debit card and discovered the convenience of withdrawing money at any hour from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
Those days in India for withdrawing money one would go to the bank and hand in a cheque and receive a 'token' in return. This was a metal disc with a number on it. The cheque would travel by hand to the teller who would give us the money when our token number got displayed on the token display.
The change from being served by a person to being served by a machine made a huge difference.
The machine worked all hours.
There was a limit set on the amount of money which could be withdrawn in a day. On one occasion when money was needed on a weekend I remember driving down to the ATM late at night. Withdrawing 50 pounds and then waiting for the date to change and withdrawing another 50 pounds.The machine was there to serve. It solved my problem!
A trip in the London Underground was another experience. We now have a world class Metro in Delhi. But in the mid 1980s having been used to buses as public transport in Delhi going to London and using the Underground was a big change. The convenience of it was simply amazing.
As India became one of the important centers of the Information Technology age we saw a sea change in how we interact with our banks.
From the 'hand over cheque and wait' times we have come to the age where almost everything is being done online. Going to the bank has become considerably infrequent. The smartphone keeps you posted on the latest information of your transactions.
On a recent trip to Europe we found that it appears that the Indian banking seems to be easier on the customer than even in developed countries.
However, when you do have to go to a bank in India you have differing experiences from bank to bank. Here the people, technology milieu comes to the fore.
Technology is at the core of the service one experiences. The user experience on the banks website. The ease with which one can navigate and transact. Such things matter a lot.
However, the people at the bank make a difference as well. The bank which comes across as the best is where people are helpful to the costumer.
For this the training and team spirit of the staff in the bank tips the scale.
On the other hand if the technology of a bank is clunky and not easy to use by the bank staff and by the costumer both the bank staff and the customer tend to get frustrated with it. This in turn effects the ability of the bank staff to serve the customer.
A bank which is not very careful in ensuring that there is responsive feedback process in place to improve the technology is sure to lose costumers.
Technology will keep on doing what ever it is designed to do. A bad design and ill trained staff will drive away customers. A good and evolving technology solution along with a trained and adept staff is sure to attract and retain accounts and customers.
The quality of the service we receive is a result of the people, technology milieu.
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