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Service Design as a means to amplify Customer Experience

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Narendra Ghate – Chief Designer, Service Design Practice, TATA Elxsi talks about how Tata Elxsi is helping financial institutions to distinguish themselves, what design strategy and approach Tata Elxsi offers to its clients that helps them discover new products, services and experiences and enable them to put their customers first – and thereby transform their businesses and gain higher growth and ROI. An exclusive with CSAT360 correspondent.

From a Customer Satisfaction perspective, How important is it for Banks to offer quality and timely services?

The financial environment has put tremendous pressure on the financial institutions; thereby banks today are jostling for consumer’s attention to set themselves apart. Each bank more or less offers similar kind of offering. So how do they differentiate themselves? It is through providing enhanced consumer experience which can be achieved through great service. So how can this be achieved? This can be done by implementing effective service design.

Service design thus is the design of the overall experience of a service as well as the design of the process and strategy to provide that service. Implementing Service Design can help organizations use their existing available resources to the fullest.

The Indian banking sector is rapidly globalizing and is expected to enjoy even greater growth opportunities in the future. Hence it has become imperative for India banks to ensure their practices match to those of the best banks. At the same time, a large number of global banks have stepped up their focus on India and are keen to participate in the sector’s growth.

Today the banking scenario has changed drastically, while multiple banks are cropping up, the products that are sold by them are similar. Hence amongst enhanced competition in banks, timely service becomes the sole differentiating factor. Banks have to leverage this to stay ahead of the business. Timely service can enhance the bank’s ability to attract affluent prospects, elevate the bank’s profitability, lower bank operation costs, and create greater customer loyalty.

Global research indicates that customer experience is the biggest driver of value. However in India, customer experience and tailored offerings will be a big driver of bank profitability as young, affluent customers are more demanding and discerning and are less credit-averse. To ensure that customers have deep relationship with banks, they should design customer experience. Today with advent of technology, banks can design better customer experience. This is what Service design is all about. Enabling service design across all sales channels like branch, internet and mobile internet will ensure timely service from banks.

In India, the major idea currently, is towards Financial Inclusion, which means alternate channels that touch remote locations. What design elements should banks have in mind for such remote locations?

Making banking accessible is not just in the commercial interest of the bank but it is also in line with its commitments under various legislation and international conventions. Expectations of poor people from the financial system is security and safety of deposits, low transaction costs, convenient operating time, minimum paper work, frequent deposits, and quick and easy access to credit and other products, including remittances suitable to their income and consumption.

The provision of uncomplicated, small, affordable products can help bring low-income families into the formal financial sector. Taking into account their seasonal inflow of income from agricultural operations, migration from one place to another, and seasonal and irregular work availability and income, the existing financial system needs to be designed to suit their requirements. There are new pilot studies in the market where the ATMs go to the customers rather than the other way around. These mobile ATMs or Suitcase ATMs are operated by bank representatives. They meet rural customers on a regular basis and help them with micro-transactions.

Could you share an example of banking service that you could rate was the best in terms of service, and design of the service?

This is an example of innovation. IndusInd Bank, recently announced ‘My account My number’ for their customers. Here, the customer is able to choose his own account number. It is like the way you can choose your mobile number. This feature creates positive, innovative and flexible aura for the Bank. If the A/C number is easily remembered it prompts the users to use the bank services more often and be more confident.

What elements should business owners think when they consider design at the center approach?

The backbone of this process is to understand the behaviour of the customers, their needs and motivations. More and more businesses are realizing it is important to listen to their key audiences to determine market opportunities, manage risks and help innovate their products and services.

Service designers draw on the methodologies of fields such as ethnography to gather customer insights through interviews and by shadowing service users. Many observations are synthesized to generate concepts and ideas that are typically portrayed visually, for example in sketches or service prototypes. Service design may inform changes to an existing service or creation of new services.

While technology evolves, so too can your company’s ability to monitor your customer’s experiences of interacting with your business. You can monitor repeat visitors or dwell time and set targets which will help you determine how and where you need to improve your service. The elements that one should consider should include:

Tangible: The appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and information material

Reliability: Whether the design has the ability to perform the service accurately and dependably

Responsiveness: Willingness to help customers and provide a prompt service

Empathy: Access, approachability and ease of contact

Communication: Keeping customers informed in a language they understand and really listening to them

Understanding the customer: Making the efforts to understand the customers and their specific needs

Customer service: In the service organizations like banking and financial companies, it is an indicator of service quality, brand perception and perceived value in services provided by a bank or a financial company to meet their customer’s expectation. “Customers satisfaction” is a combination of their cognitive and affective response to service encounters.

What is the difference in service design of Indian Banks from the Banks globally?

In India, the public sector banks are still trying to leave the earlier pre-privatization era and some of their attitudes in services reflect that. The private sector banks are more aggressive but the regulations do not fully support their needs. Globally, the banks have been too liberal in their service products and too aggressive in their marketing of these products. As a result they have eroded some of the trust that is the backbone of any banking industry. India is better placed in the coming years (especially with the new licenses being granted) of having the correct balance and creating a conducive service oriented banking environment.

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