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Thursday, November 16

A Bank Full of Surprises

This morning as I stepped into the Bandra branch of HSBC to pay my monthly home loan EMI, the sight of a huge teddy bear sitting on a chair greeted me. I thought it must be part of the extended children's day celebrations!

But a closer look made me realise that this teddy was on IV drip!!

Actually the cute teddy-on-drips was a display for an HSBC and Tata AIG critical care insurance plan...Generally one would not even look at the in-bank hard/ soft sell...
But the teddy surprise made me click a snap and snap a leaflet as well as pose a query to the personal banker!

And this was not the first time that HSBC has done some memorable 'last-mile' stuff!
Around the time when Hanuman( the movie) was released, they were giving free Hanuman-pencil-sharpeners to the kids who came to the bank. My son, Neo was thrilled with this gift!

Again on Diwali, the bank was decked up with 'diyas', festoons, etc. They again gave a small Diwali gift to Neo who was tagging along with me.There was a stall selling small festive items (arranged by an NGO) - bank-that-reaches-out-to-the-needy-space!

The staff was wearing ethnic attire. And these are not one-off gimmicks. Even in the past, HSBC has celebrated other local festivals as well...
HSBC through its ATL and BTL communication has been really making an honest enough effort to connect locally.

HSBC communication( the World's Local Bank) has been quite clear, consistent and one can actually perceive the localization( increasingly even the models used in the print ads and posters are Indians).

On the other hand you have Standard Chartered, a brand that I know(or claim to know) a lil better as I used to handle it at TBWA. SCB makes great pompous sounding statements on the bill-boards and in print ads. But the in-bank-experience is quite the opposite!
Of course my sliver of experience is based again on the Bandra branch and my credit card transactions( have a 9 year old card with them)...

To give SCB credit, while they do invest heavily and consistently in the Mumbai Marathon, I suspect the act has now become a part of their annual corporate communication check-list...

And while the tag-line to the Mumbai Marathon says 'Feel the Spirit'. Unfortunately it is sorely missing in the in-bank environment.

One of the problems with a financial brand I feel is that it is heavily transaction driven. Therefore, every touch point every-time enhances or takes away from the brand experience. And while you may need the umbrella of great-canvas-thematic-ads, the excitement and the passion shown in brand initiatives at the last mile count a lot!

And HSBC clearly knows how to deliver those small touches. Oh, I forgot to mention, everytime I go to check my home loan status, I feast upon the Re 1 candy!
I feel even the most sophisticated and demanding of customers can be delighted with a small dollop of surprise. Check out the related Oct 12 post on Hedonistic Treadmill and Customer Service . And yes, mail me your own surprise stories!


meraj said...

- last diwali, it was me instead of neo along with you. they were sending free diwali cards(UNICEF)to relatives and friends outside india and on top of it they were gifting you a set of diyas. i got one because of my friend in dubai. excellent idea and helping everyone.

- going back to the 'hats' exercise in disruption. i think in future banks should start running like an A-class restaurants with tables/chairs, full waiter service, coffee/tea and the usual financial transactions.

as more and more transactions will start happening online, bank visits will become rarer and rarer which in turn makes the banks to make all the efforts to make that rare visit absolutely memorable.

the phrase 'baaaank jaaaaana hai yaaar' with that painful look on the face should be replaced by 'lets check out the new liquer chocolate at the SBI and btw, i have to make my home loan payment too'


ps: feels good to be back in blogsville

meraj said...

and i prefer the old template of 1 pic per posting.

Manish said...

yup...actually there was one more visit wherein they gave sth to Neo!

yes, agree with you...the bank marketing manager must do a stint in an event management company!

hey, i sorely missed you in blogville...

maybe u are right about the template...but this is more rough and has some surprise everyday...

standard templates are ver1.0...breaking them 2.0!
maybe will revert to 1.0 in some time:-) cheers