Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brand Update : SBI

SBI has been on an overdrive in the advertising world with a series of campaigns following the much acclaimed " Surprisingly SBI" campaign. The entire world was surprised because of the aggression of India's largest bank. The bank was successful in changing the perception of many new generation customers about the key advantages of SBI like " largest number of ATMs", branch connectivity etc.

Then came the second series of campaign " Every Indian's Banker".The ad was a big fall from the quality hype created by " Surprisingly SBI" campaign. The second series campaign was aimed at projecting the bank as a common man's bank which served no strategic purpose as such. Every one knew that SBI used to serve all class of Indians. The second series of ads served no business or brand purpose. Neither the ad gave any new information to the consumers nor it invoked any brand equity for SBI.

Then came the third series of the campaign. The series is currently running across media. The ad shows India's eminent personalities like Tagore, Bose to Tata with the caption - The Banker to this Indian. The brand is trying to show off that it was the banker to the most eminent sons of the soil.
Frankly speaking, I am not the least impressed by the new campaign. Nothing but just a waste of money.

SBI was right when it launched the 'surprisingly SBI ' campaign because it needs to remind the customers about the advantages of banking with the largest Indian bank. SBI obviously had lot of advantages like " government backing" , largest number of branches and lower rates. With the high profile ad campaign by both public sector and private banks, SBI needed such a campaign to keep its brand on top of its customer's minds.

But the second and third series aiming to create an emotional connection was a total disaster.
I was a poor customer who believed SBI claims that it had restructured itself and has shed all the previous "PSU" style functioning. Reports suggested that it had trained all the staff and has become more customer friendly than ever before.Even being a cynical fellow , I believed all the claims ..
Then one day, I visited the SBI branch to take a demand draft. It was during the Lok sabha election time. The person manning the DD counter flatly refused to issue me the DD saying that he had closed the counter early because he had to attend an election training program. I stood there wondering how can a bank refuse to issue a demand draft to a customer ? . I went to the manager and was really surprised when he admitted his inability to help me out because of staff shortage. I had to shout and threaten to file a complaint with the banking ombudsman inorder to 'motivate' the manager to take necessary steps to issue me the demand draft.

What ever that SBI do to prop up its image, nothing will work unless the bank take care of its service DNA. The bank is still to change its customer service culture. They are in the service business and people form an important part of the service marketing mix. Having said that,SBI can breathe easier because the service quality is not remarkable in other banks as well ( private banks included).

SBI just need to instill a DNA of customer service in their branches. In most of the branches, the bankers feel that they are doing some favor to the customers. In a service business, the brand is built at the moment when the customer avails the services not when he sees a campaign.

Hope that SBI will atleast once surprise me positively.

Some different perspectives : Adformula, Bhatnaturally

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