Damodaran Committee: Bank boards must ensure customer satisfaction
Moneylife Digital Team 04 August 2011

RBI panel on customer services says board must discuss top complaints and monitor implementation of policy for customer care 

The Damodaran Committee on bank customer services has recommended active involvement of the boards of banks to guarantee customer satisfaction. "Commitment to hassle-free service for customers under the oversight of the bank's board is necessary to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Customer centricity should be the purpose of the existence of the bank," the committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India has said in its report which was published on Wednesday.

The committee has said that "customer service and grievance redressal should be included as a mandatory parameter in the performance appraisal report of all employees."

Explaining the role of the board of directors in implementing customer service guidelines, the committee said, "The root cause analysis of the top five types of complaints in a quarter should be placed before the Customer Service Committee of the Board held in the subsequent quarter. A brief note on the discussions held on the same should be placed before the Board in its subsequent meeting. The actionable points that emanate out of such deliberations should be closed only after placing the compliance status in the subsequent meetings of the Customer Service Committee or Board (as the case may be)."

The report suggested that an agenda on the level of implementation of the Bank's Code of Commitments to Customers and an overview on the grievance redressal mechanism in the bank should be placed before the bank every quarter before the Customer Service Committee.

The committee said that every board should ensure they have comprehensive policies for customer acceptance, care and severance. "The bank policies should clearly lay out its approach to customer care, taking into account the geographic spread of its branches, segments of customers, needs of special sections like senior citizens, widows, physically challenged persons, etc," the committee said in its report.

Such a policy, the committee said, "must also clearly define and distinguish the features for different products and services and must indicate the target customer group. It should show sensitivity for small customers by ensuring that the pricing (bank charges) does not act as a deterrent for the small person to do banking transactions."

Emphasising on 'customer centricity', the committee recommended that bank boards should evolve human resources policies which will "recruit for attitude and train for skills." It pointed out that policy "should be framed to ensure that the prescribed response time for every type of grievance should be approved by an official not below the rank of the top management of the bank."

The report also suggested that "Branch  Level Customer Committee meetings may be  replaced with a meeting of customers of all banks of that area (say district-wise, block-wise) and be held in the presence of representatives of banks at periodic intervals (monthly/quarterly). The responsibility of organising such meetings may be entrusted to eminent consumer organisations in the region and expenses of such meetings can be shared by the bankers of that jurisdiction. The proceedings of the meetings should be recorded (CCTV) for the purpose of review of the same in higher fora."

Aurobindo Banerjee
1 decade ago
Bank boards are not even scantly bothered about mundane things like customer care unless the customers happen to be big corporates whose interests alone they seek to protect. For the ordinary customers, as was mentioned in two recent comments on a similar topic by Bidup and C Jyothi, there is nothing but harassment at every step and even financial ruin in case the customer happens to be a small-time borrower for, say, house construction. Otherwise, as Bidup said, how can a big PSU bank even think of releasing loan installments to a contractor engaged by the borrower (as in the instance quoted by Bidup) while the said contractor is a total outsider and not a party to the loan agreement/contract? Customer Care or satisfaction, etc., in India are just publicity stunts. Banks' concerns are for the big business of which they want to be partners-in-orosperity, not so for the huge number of savings bank customers, HBA borrowers, student loan seekers, etc.
K B Patil
1 decade ago
As an account holder in nationalised and private banks, I would urge private banks to shed their attitude to account holders as milch cows, charging for everything. The most important step would be to make it mandatory for all banks to issue passbooks to SB account holders.
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