Monday, May 18, 2009

A Tale Of Two Banks and One Telecom Service Provider

I have bank accounts at ICICI & Citibank (India). I also use credit cards of these two companies. Let’s first talk about their Mobile Banking services. ICICI has the following options:

My account getting credited above
My account getting debited above
Salary credited to my account #
Cheque deposited in my account bounced
Account Balance above
Account Balance below
Debit Card Purchases above

Messages for the above can be received through SMS, Email or both.

Citibank calls it Alerts, and they offer the following options:

Withdrawal balance by account
Withdrawal balance by account
Time deposit maturity advice
Cheque Status
Cheque Bounce Alert
Time Deposit Redemption Notice
Cheque dishonor

These messages can be received through SMS, Email or Both depending on the alert type. Also, for some of the alerts, message frequencies can be chosen as Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.

At first glance, it seems that Citibank offers more options but a closer look will reveal ICICI has done more research and come up with a better offering. The Citibank alerts are based on how frequently you want them while ICICI’s alerts are based on particular (defined by the customer) credited and debited amounts. ICICI’s options make more sense as I don’t want alerts daily or weekly, but only when I have made a transaction.

And because of the lack of options, I continue to receive daily alerts on my Citibank account balance irrespective of the fact that the balance remains the same or I haven’t done any transaction for a month. Also, the system at Citibank looks like a typical CRM system while the one at ICICI looks more like a BI system.

Now, let’s discuss their Credit Cards and their Customer Analytics.

I have been using an ICICI Gold credit card for almost 3 years now. I used it to pay all my bills – electricity bill, mobile bill, internet bill, shopping bills….and I paid all dues in time. I applied for and got the Citibank Gold card about a year after I got my ICICI card. I used the Citibank Gold card for 2-3 purchases, paid all the dues in time, and Citibank increased my credit limit every time.

Encouraged by their response (I got very nice emails from their customer service) and actions (increase of credit limit), I started using the Citibank Gold card more frequently. In a few months’ time, I got a free-for-life Citibank Platinum card with all these attractive features and benefits. I even got an invitation to join a wine club though I’m more of a rum and whiskey guy. Don’t blame them though; getting your hands on such kind of consumer lifestyle/preferences data will be next to impossible in India.

I have now almost forgotten the ICICI Gold card; I use it very rarely these days. The credit limit given to me 3 years back still remains the same. And I have never received a single email or communication from ICICI. I also know that ICICI bank outsources its Customer Analytics to an Analytics Service Provider in Mumbai. So where is the up sell analytics? Doesn’t their data show the fact that I am “almost” leaving now? That again reveals the fact that customer spending information is not at all analyzed and they are not doing much about customer churn either.

On a different note, I am a post-paid mobile customer of India’s largest telecom service provider, Airtel
. Every month, whenever my bill is generated I receive about 6 SMSs from Airtel within the next 5-6 days. The messages can be summarized as:

1. Your bill has been generated…
2. You can view your bill at your online account…
3. Your bill has been emailed to and the password to open it is… and if you haven’t received it… (this is actually 2 SMSs because of the length of the message)
4. Your bill amount is XXX…
5. Your bill amount is XXX and the last date of payment is…

For the last 3 years or so, I have been paying all my bills before the due date. Once I got so irritated that I emailed their customer service, and their reply? These are server generated messages and we can’t do anything about it. I got more irritated and asked my email to be forwarded to Airtel’s CRM, Business Intelligence, Analytics or whatever the team there like to call themselves!

I got just one SMS alert when my next month’s bill was generated. But it was back to square one from the 2nd month onwards.

My question is which “smart” manager came up with the idea that 6 SMSs should be sent to all their post-paid customers every month? Why doesn’t one SMS saying “Your bill amount of XXX has been generated and the due date is ABC” suffice? Has anyone at Airtel calculated the cost of sending 5-6 SMSs to all their post-paid customers, every month? Shouldn’t the last SMS be sent only to those customers who have a habit of making late payments? Do they send the second SMS to those customers who don’t have online accounts too? And why can’t these alerts be customized based on a customer’s usage and payment behavior?

I can give more examples of Indian companies in the retail, entertainment, and services sector that are not doing nothing or very little about all the customer data they have, inspite of mentioning or advertising that they use BI & Analytics. So how mature is the Business Intelligence, and CRM Analytics setup at Indian companies? And how skilled or knowledgeable are the senior people associated with it?


Anonymous said...

1. ICICI has its own in-house analytics unit.
2. The problem is that u were a smart purchaser......they missed the bus when they didn't reel you in by ether decreasing your APR or by coming up with EMI schemes.
You were a transactor, & were more active on the internet purchases; for which ICICI doesn't get a dime. The only money that ICICI got out of your transactional behavior was the interchange.
Thats why you don't receive any up-sell offers. However, i wouldn't be surprised if the cross-sell offers (specially PL & AL) were not coming your way.

Datalligence said...

thanks, that's interesting. and you are RIGHT, i do a lot of transactions online.

data mining courses said...

transactions online really do matter

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