Monday, July 6, 2015

HDFC - world's best customer service

I was doing my summer internship at JSPL Gurgaon during the month of April and May 2015. Gurgaon is a well sophisticated cyber hub for all service sectors and corporate headquarters. It is especially known for its high cost of living and rapid metro that covers the entire IT park round the clock and connecting it the metro station. Though it is not ideal to mention that Gurgaon is safe for travelling with liquid cash yet I do not carry much with me. I try to maintain my cash in hand as lean as possible by utilizing metro card, company bus service and black colored share auto. I use the ATM service twice a week so that I could replenish my pocket for daily expense. Apart from 20 story buildings and rapid metro screeching between skyscrapers, Gurgaon is also known for its Chicken biryani and katti roll. Hence sikenderpur metro station will always be final get-down station though Huda city center was my stopping. A half plate chicken biryani, katti roll and onion dosa at south Indian road side shop forms my usual evening schedule.
It happened on 25th May 2015. I was getting down at sikenderpur metro station and I went for ATM near DLF city court shopping mall. I used my SBI atm card for withdrawing money. The ATM machine was not the usual swiping system. It pulls the card inside for processing. I let my card go and was waiting for the machine to process. I was waiting patiently like booking a tatkal ticket from IRCTC website. The machine took much time that tested my patience. I started knocking the ATM buttons for acknowledgement. Sometimes restlessness brings out the stupidity in us just like we press harder the TV remote button when it doesn’t work properly knowing the fact that extra force applied on the button is never going to reap any incremental benefit. The card was taken from the inside and got collected in a tray. I could able to see my card through the slot with which we insert our ATM card for accessing our account. I tried to peep further but I failed. By that time my weird actions attracted the security. I found it difficult to make him understand with my broken Hindi. He replied me that card once card stuck cannot be retrieved. He further instructed me to block the card ASAP and apply for a fresh one.
The alternative seemed to be infructuous to me. My SBI ATM card registered at Vellore, 150 kms from Chennai, branch got stuck in a HDFC ATM at Gurgaon. Fortunately current banking service is so user friendly that blocking a card takes minutes for security reasons but availing a new card takes days. Also I need to go to the concerned branch, get a token number and patiently wait for my turn. I need to submit a new form duly filled by me along with my ID proof. After a fortnight I have to personally reach the bank and validate myself by showing necessary identity to get my new card and password thereafter.
My schedule is so tight that I had another week training in Gurgaon and thereafter a 4 days holiday is available before I admit myself to the institute. With this limited time it is not possible for me to reach the bank personally as I need to travel from Delhi to Trichy, my hometown, and from Trichy to Vellore, then from Vellore to Trichy, Trichy to Chennai, Chennai to Delhi and Delhi to Kashipur. Merely reiterating this hectic and complex plot of travel itself found nauseating to me and hence it was impossible to get new card. I need to somehow manage to get back my old card.
I came down to HDFC bank during working hours and complained to the concerned manager. He directed me to a last counter. I explained the madam about the mishap and my inability to get a new card. She directed me to customer care booth inside the bank.
I lifted the receiver and it dialed automatically to the concerned customer care. The sweet automated lady voice welcomed me addressing that I have called to the world’s best customer care service. The voice directed me to press 1 for English, 3 for ATM card services, 6 for lost card services, 1 for additional information and 9 for connecting me to a real human. I explained her the entire story and she was patiently listening to me.
“Surely the best customer service in the world” I said to myself by the time I completed my story.
She: “Sir, please tell me your account number?”
Me: “What? Madam I hope you understand my story. I don’t own an account in your bank. My SBI ATM card got stuck in your ATM services.”
She: after a long pause “Sir, please provide your registered mobile number”.
Me: “Madam, I said I am not a registered customer of your service”
She: after a long pause “Sir, we need your mobile number”
Me: Told my number
She: “Sir, your number is not in our data base”
Me: Started to simmer from within but controlled my consciousness. “Obviously it won’t be because I am not your registered customer who owns an account in your banking services. I said I lost my ATM card in your ATM services.”
She: After a long pause, “sir your card number?”
Me: told my card number
She: “Sir your card number does not belongs to HDFC”
Me: took a long breath “I know that. My ATM card belongs to SBI bank”
She: “Sir, shall I block your card”
Me: by this time I understood that she never listened to my story but she is getting herself prepared with her trained set of questions and gave a long pause to her adulatory nerves until I complete. I decided to limit my conversation and started delivering what she wanted. “No”.
She: “What shall I do sir?”
Me: “I want you to return it back to the bank annexed with the ATM”
She: “May I seek your permission to put this call on hold so that I can verify from my side?”
Me: “Please”
It took her 3 minutes to return my call back.
She: “Sir, you have lost your card on 25th of May”
Me: I doubly confirmed that she never listened to my story “Yes”
She: “May I know in which ATM you lost the card”
Me: I thought she was cross verifying the details with what she found while the call was on hold. “
DLF city court, sikenderpur, nearby by HDFC bank with IFSC code HDFC0001719
She: “How many HDFC branches are there in sikenderpur?”
Me: I found this question totally irrelevant and foolish. “Madam, I do not have the time to search for how many HDFC banks are there in sikenderpur. But I do have provided you the bank with its IFSC code which I think is unique to every bank”.
By this time she stopped replying. I could hear keyboard typing sounds and coffee sipping sounds from the other end. I kept saying “Hello” with a consistent tempo and low enough not to annoy fellow people in the bank. I heard laughing and giggling sounds from the other end.
After another 3 minutes she came to the call.
She: “thanks for patiently waiting while I kept you on hold”
Me: now I realized the entire scene. She actually thought that she kept me on hold and she started relaxing herself by that time. I have read somewhere that every single data of customer service is captured that if a helpline employee does not attend a call more than three ring the calls get automatically connected to higher level authority. Also when a call is put on hold for more than a stipulated time that calls get triggered to higher authority. Now I realize that she is utilizing her opportunities to chit chat and relax because she should attend my call before three ring and should not put my call hold for more than 3 minutes I suppose. And it has been more than 10 minutes of phone conversation and she still has not understood my intention of calling them.
Me: “May I ask you what you verified while my call was on hold?”
She: complete silent from her end.
Me: I started saying “hello” in a continuous and controlled tempo.
She: she started talking with someone on the other end and after sometime she resumed with a little irritated tone. “Sir, I am not able to clearly hear what you are saying”
Me: I decided not to breakdown. “Madam, I don’t know if that’s true while I could able to hear your conversations over there”
She: she went back to limbo again. There was a long pause from her side. “Sir, May I know what exactly you want us to do?”
Me: “I request you to deliver the card to the bank nearby so that it will be easy for me to collect”.
She: “Ok sir we will deliver it to the nearby bank thanks for calling”
Me: “Hello, how do you ensure me that you registered this conversation”
She: “Sir, I am not able to understand”
Me: Of course she cannot. It was my mistake to expect sudden smartness from her. “Madam, I want the complaint reference ID”
She: “you want a complaint reference ID?” in a surprised tone.
Me: “Yes”.
She started asking my entire details from the first. Which means she has noted nothing from the beginning. Those typewriting sounds I heard where not for me. And it also means that she gave me blind commitments that I will get my card back. She managed to generate a complaint ID and promised me that it will be cleared in 7 working days.
Banks have 6 working days in a week which means my complaint will be done on the day I leave Gurgaon. I requested her to expedite but still she said that their maximum cap is 7days and that she can try to complete it before that. I even got a text message saying that my complaint ID was #DELC0515217297.
Every day I used to pass by the ATM and check for my card and it was still visible through the slot. On 28th May the card was no more visible. I was happy that during money refilling my card was taken from the ATM and probably it would have been given to the bank. I went to the bank and enquired about the ATM and to my astonishment the bank did not receive any ATM card. I called the customer care again and enquired the current status against my complaint ID.
It was no surprise to me that the same lady attended my call and I had the most boring conversation ever had. I lost hope and left the bank. After two days I got a call from one of their service providers regarding my complaint. The voice said that my ATM card was not available in that ATM while the refilled. I decided not to waste time with these people in explaining him from the start. The worst part is he thanked me for contacting their customer service providers and was very much overwhelmed that he completed the task well within 7 days.
The card which was visible to me through naked eye is found lost while refilling. Which means my communication did not actually reached the concerned person who is refilling the ATM and when they did not find the ATM card they declared the card is missing.
Such a reputed bank has a poor or probably outdated system of customer satisfaction monitoring system employed by highly under trained or poorly qualified staffs. Adding oil to the fire the bank still claims themselves as one of the best customer service bank in the world.
Customer service has become vital in all industries and is critically important with service industries like banks. Banks like these with mind blowing tag lines that attracts customer’s attention but poorly satisfying with improper system and under equipped staffs will definitely be an oxymoronic combination to their tag lines.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


In a Parent Teacher Association meeting a teacher complained about her 5th grade student.

Teacher: I asked a question about the weight of the globe to the class and a boy answered me “the weight as on date is thirty kg more than what it was a year back”. I was puzzled and further questioned him. He said the weight of the earth got increased because my weight was increased by thirty in the past one year.
The whole crowd burst to laughter.

Teacher: There is nothing to laugh at it. I reprimanded him at once for his in disciplinary remark for which he started abusing at me. I wonder the way children are brought up these days.

Suddenly a mother in the meeting rose up from the chair in reflex and commented “Excuse me! We know our child and we are giving them the best we could. If still mistake happens then it is definitely at your end. Maybe students learn from their peers. But definitely not from their parents”.

The crowd nodded in unison.

Teacher: “Well in that case madam it was your son who was that in disciplined in my class littering the fellow students”.

She left the place that instant in anger leaving behind a huge silence. She went back home and thrashed her child for letting her down in front of other parents. The child was hurt and sobbed profusely.
Her mother was hurt badly after seeing her son crying. It took some time for the whole scene to settle down. After dinner the mother, father and son laid in their bed for sleeping.

Son: Did I let you down today? Is that why you were mad at me?
Mother: Didn’t I brought you up well right from your birth.
Son: Yes ma.
Mother: I had taken good care of you even before you were born.
Son: How would I know about those happened before my birth ma?

She exhaled and started narrating a story.
Mother: It was June 1988 when your father and I went for baby-moon.
Son: What is baby-moon?
Mother: It is a sequel to honeymoon except for couples go during their 5th month of pregnancy.
Son: why do they during that time?
Mother: Well the fetus inside the womb would be matured enough to perceive the real world vicariously through the host.
Son: What?
Mother: Well the baby can feel, hear and even see, as they say, at that time. In Mahabharata Arjuna trained Abhimanyu for getting into chakra vyuha when Abhimanyu was growing inside his mother’s womb.
Son: Oh! So what happened during our baby-moon?
Mother surprisingly smiled at her child mentioning ‘our’. She replied back “We went for ooty. I still remember how freshly chill the climate was. On the very first day we went for garden. I was unable to walk further as you started adjusting yourself inside. It was very painful and I had to sit down near the security guard”.

The son frowned out of guilt and his mother brushed his hair with a smiling face saying, “It was not your fault dear”.
She continued “During those periods woman will be hyper sensitive to all feelings be it happiness, sadness, anger, pain etc. I requested the guard to share his seat and he granted. Your father asked me to join him but I refused a couple of times. Then he left me assuring my safety with the guard”.
Son: Why did dad do that?  He could have cancelled that day’s plan and stayed with you?
Dad groaned in half sleep “is this the kind of bedtime story you narrate to our son making his own father a villain?”

Mother laughing at the expected questions from both the ends she continued narrating. “It was not his fault. Your father has sacrificed a lot for me. He is an industrious man and hates secluding to being motionless other than eating and sleeping. So I willingly let him continue his visit”.
Father exhales and turns to other side of the bed to his comfortable position.

Mother: But the moment when your father left, I was inundated with mixed feelings. I was afraid and scared of being alone carrying you in an alien place. I was perplexed with several contingent questions asking myself what I would do if something happens to me at that moment. I wish someone was nearby to say “you will be safe”. I cursed myself for letting your father go alone. He actually got lost in the garden maze and took him sometime to return back to me along with security escorts. His anger and my cry changed the entire mood of the day and we returned back to home the same night. I wish I had seen the place myself.

Father rolling from the other end of the bed “and that’s the end of the story. Tomorrow I will tell you another story about a wife beating her husband with chapatti roller”.
Everyone chucked and left for sleep.

25 years later…
The boy was married and his wife was five months pregnant. His parents insisted him to go for a babymoon to some place as a change of mood was essential for both the mother and the child. The boy realized that it was time for him to be good father as well as a good son. He wanted to fulfill all the unfinished desires of his parents only when they are hale and healthy to perceive it. He took the whole family to ooty.

The boy was so adamant that the first itinerary in the trip was ooty garden. He took the whole family to the garden. The moment they entered, the girl got cramps in her stomach. She couldn’t move a step and hence resorted herself to a chair nearby. The guy understood her pain and decided to stay back. He could. Some activities are hereditary and Geo tagged.  

This incident reminded mother of her situation a couple of decades before and hence decided to stay back. The unfulfilled wishes of three people was put to task like the three vertices's of a triangle trying to touch each other without deforming its shape. The father wants to see the garden at least this time but unwilling to go alone. Mother wants to accompany her husband but unwilling to leave her daughter-in-law to face the same suffer she underwent. The son did not want to leave his wife alone but he wants to fulfill the wishes of his parents.

Son: “Ma, you and father go to the park. We both will be waiting for you here while you return”.
Mother: “No I don’t want to leave her alone in this situation”.
Father: “Me too. Let us take her to the hotel and give her some rest”.
Son was confused at the situation. But he was sure of one thing. Not to call off this trip.
Son: “Ma, You stay with her. I will go along with dad”.
Father and Mother: “But?”
Son: “You know how to take good care of her. I trust you”.
Everyone smiled at each other and father and son went inside. Son, after a few steps, came back to his wife. He brushed her hair and said “you three better be safe”. He smiled and went back into the garden.

She looked at his mother in confusion. Mother smiled at her in return.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

“Alright, Good night”

She was standing in a long queue and she felt so lost that every second cost her an hour. Time frame from the reality seemed to dwell unreasonably slow as she had her mind lost somewhere. She couldn't see the clear picture of what her eyes actually saw. It was all hazy and bleak. Nor that her eye sensors wear off but she seemed really confused about taking her decision. She was not indecisive about taking decisions but this particular decision costs her an entire life. She was so hard to accept it as well as so soft to deny it. She couldn't hear anything properly, standing in the queue, but indistinct chatters at low decibels and at unusual tempos. Her eyes were moist that her eyeliners where completely washed up and her pupils were merely floating in the sacred pool of tears.


She heard something in a requesting tone that later turned into an imperative accent.


It was her turn at the immigration counter. The personal at the counter interrogated several questions and her reply was so slow that she answered the second question with the first question’s answer. The office personal was partially satisfied in approving her immigration. She was looking at an Indian couple hugging and caressing each other at the gallery terminal to send off someone. She couldn't control her nostalgic vibe about her boyfriend. Especially at times when she was taking such vital decisions of him in her life.

The past beautiful moments of their happy-days projected in front of her eyes without a celluloid. The memories of the first day they met at a car accident when he was the guy who crushed his car onto hers. The day how they took care of each other in the hospital when the homesickness and agony took precedence. The day when he proposed her in the hospital with the vital medicines required for her.

All her day dreams were vanished by a loud sound. The immigration officer cleared, signed and sealed her application. The officer sealed it so loud to wake her off her in the middle of her dreams. Her trolley was full of surprise presents, her boyfriend used to gift on every day from the day of proposal. She could hardly roll her trolley not for its heaviness by weight. But it was loaded with so many emotions imbibed.
She entered the gangway with plenty of her fellow country mates rushing the plane. She knew that she couldn't stay in a foreign country where she couldn't find solace. Lucrative jobs couldn't be a lifetime opportunity to replace the blessed people. Not that she missed her family so much. Either she was too coward to decide upon whom she miss so.
Every step she stepped on the gangway kept reminding her that she was lacking time to make a Decision. Her world was going dark without her notice that she was fainting.

She remembered that how she faltered while using her crutches for the first time in the hospital during her days of recuperation. It was he who stood beside her, training like a cradling baby, and helping her out in the training.
A nun caught her from behind.

Oh my god. You are so heavy. May lord be with you all the time or until you reach your home my child!

She smiled coyly and adjusted her belongings from the free fall. She started approaching into the flight entrance. A well-built athletic woman full of plastic make up dressed in red skirt with floral fragrance spreading around her black stalking, welcomed her with a plastic smile.

Welcome aboard madam. Your seat is two rows from the front on your left and second seat from the window. Have a happy journey.

She couldn't proceed further into the plane as every single instance that was happening around her reminded her of him. Those days when they both used to linger around the Hospital’s canteen as the best coffee with noodle soup was served there. Every time the women at the canteen entrance welcomes, he used to mock her of her accent and her subservient gesture.

She placed her luggage in the dock and got seated.

Ma’am would you like to have a glass of wine or beer?

Martini is my favorite bitch, why do you ask me every single time. He used to yell at the Hospital canteen’s waitress. Those were the days they spend their life with nothing but breathing air and laughing around. They both were so addicted of being together and inseparable. Except for one day and she could remember every single details of that day. How his nose bleed over the noodle soup and how he fainted and rushed to the Intensive Care Unit. Her life was back after two days when he told that he was fine and it was the medicine’s unusual side effect that oozed his blood out of his nostrils.


She was back to reality and ordered water.

It was her last day to get discharged from the hospital and she was bidding adieu to the receptionist and nurses. She was telling them about how she likes him, the way he proposed her and about the future plans with him. She was the only person talking while the rest were frozen in shock. One of the nurses from the behind interrogated the senior nurse that if she was referring the guy who got admitted in the ICU for blood cancer. The non-stopping chatter of her came to an end when she heard those. Those words were so sharp that it pierced her heart effortlessly in no time that she took so much time to realize about what she actually heard. She got nothing to do with the situation but to faint and extend her stay for a day.

This is captain welcoming you all board. It is time to fasten your seat belts. The flight will take off in 2 minutes as scheduled.

Sense of guilt and love with one preceding the other obsessed her and took control of her. It was her mistake that she left him accepting the reality that he will be not alive more than a month and her inclination towards the lucrative job offer abroad as a Chinese translator to a leading multinational company. She shouldn't have left him. She couldn't face her dying boyfriend any more. She knew she made a mistake leaving him. She couldn't spend a single day at the office accepting the fact that she has left him. She resigned that job at the same day and she boarded a flight to china, her country, on the same evening. She badly wanted to marry him so that he could spend the remaining days of his life with the girl whom he loved. But she knew how much it would pain to live a widow for the rest of her life.
The flight attendant came to her to fasten her seat belt.

Ma’am your life is more important to us

And she left the place with her plastic smile. Something sparked and she knew that she has decided.
“Tomorrow is the day I will marry you at the hospital and celebrate our honeymoon with the scheduled medicines. I promise to take good care of you for the rest of your life. I will not let you die before me. Good night” she said to herself. And she was relieved that she finally decided before the flight took off.
The flight took its front wheel off from the ground with a happy passenger.

This is captain Fariq of Boeing 777 Flight number MH370. We are flying at an altitude of 35000 feet. The weather condition is normal.
“MH370, please contact Ho Chi Minh City 120.9, Good Night” echoed the radio version from KL Control tower.
“Alright, Good night”