Downtimes Plague Uptimes in the Services Sector

by Tabrez Khan    Sep 12, 2008

Overpromise and underdeliver. Unfortunately that’s the way some
enterprises have been working the mantra and when that happens in the
services sector the results can be particularly dismaying for the

A lot of enterprises today are unwittingly or otherwise following the
mantra of over-promise and under-deliver. That attitude especially in
the services sector can be very hurtful to customers. Banks for
example, promise a lot around technology these days. Automated teller
machines, net banking, phone banking and interactive voice response
(IVR) are all standard tools that banks use to service customers.
However, there is no assurance of availability of these tools to

To be fair, leading banks have more or less stood up to their brand
equity and reputation by making systems available most of the times.
Let us also concede that no technology is foolproof and there will
always be a problem or two lurking somewhere in the lifetime of any
technology or system. However, the aberrations have to be anticipated
well in advance, planned for and the plans executed well to avoid
inconveniencing customers and disillusioning them.

A leading private bank for instance faced a huge downtime of an
entire day recently, and the way they approached it left a lot to be
desired on the customer service front. The bank did not anticipate
when the systems will be up and running, and so gave timelines and
kept defaulting on it several times that day. The net result was
obviously customer disillusionment.

Another bank that prides itself on its status of being the country’s
largest private bank has in my experience been facing some problems
with its phone banking. A friend tried talking to a phone banking
officer (PBO) a few days ago for some problem. Despite repeated
attempts, the PBO could not be reached, and this in spite of the
reassurances that the friend will be connected in 20 seconds, 30
seconds and so forth.

After numerous attempts and as many assurances, the person concerned
disconnected the call in dismay. Call drops and sudden blanking out
of response are common too with this banks’ IVR, so calling up phone
banking several times for a single query or transaction is not that

In conversation with this author on an earlier occasion, the CIO of
the same bank had claimed that customers are getting too demanding
these days. One wonders whether this is really the case. Whether
expecting minimum downtimes is demanding too much from technology,
when we have come to rely on technology increasingly in every walk of
life. Availability of systems is the minimum that a customer can
expect from a bank.

And even more important is the approach that you present to the
customer in troubled times. Getting that right is solving half the
problem most of the time.