Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Speed Banking

Not long ago banks used to be sort of community centers where you spent languorous afternoons chatting up fellow visitors as you waited for your cash or draft. You knew jolly well that even if you moved heaven and earth you could not speed things up. You took it all in your stride and tried to make the best of the situation. You studied human nature from your vantage point, as you disinterestedly browsed the part of the day’s paper that fell your way. It was fun to see the clerks animatedly handling the voluminous ledgers, pepped up by endless rounds of tea and gossip. Life inside was indeed hectic, while very little really got done. At the end, when your business was completed, you came out with a sense of having accomplished something.

Not anymore. Banks are fast changing their ways. Speed is the buzzword for them now. Your account will be opened before your coffee gets cold—boasts one bank; while another sends the mobile ATM around, so that you may draw money nearer home. In the name of dispensing prompt customer service, banks seem hell bent to dispense with the poor customer.

With all kinds of machines crowding the scene, your business is done in a flash, without your having to visit the bank. Some banks even slap you a charge for visiting their premises. Banks would be happy to see the back of poor you at the earliest, or better still, not see you at all. But is speed the only thing that the customers want? Not always, as an enterprising banker learnt the hard way.

This young manager took over a branch which catered to a large number of pensioners. On every pension day, usually the first working day of the month, the branch turned into a veritable fish market, swarming with old pensioners. The total lack of order started to grate on the nerves of the new manager. He took stock of the situation and found out that just one cashier attended to all the pensioners, causing lengthy waiting time for them. Thinking that the pandemonium was a show of protest by the senior citizens over slow service, he made up his mind to set things right. On the next pension day, the whole bank was waiting to greet the pensioners and in a very systematic way they were disposed of one by one. During the lunch time as the manager was praising himself for a job well done, a host of old customers barged into his cabin and demanded to know why everybody wanted to drive them away from the bank. They said they eagerly looked forward to that particular day of the month, to be able to spend some time with old friends and colleagues. They enjoyed every bit of the hullabaloo as it brought some excitement to their monotonous lives. They would not mind waiting longer for their pensions. The enthusiastic manager had to reluctantly revert to the old ways.

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