Differentiate Your Product By Going The Extra Mile – Part 3

When I wrote Differentiate Your Product By Going The Extra Mile, I’d meant it to be the second and concluding post. But, I recently came across a few more updates – some positive and some not so positive – on this subject that I thought I must share, hence this third part.

One, as I’d guessed, recent realtime SMS alerts sent by banks in India for credit card transactions are the outcome of government regulation applicable across the industry.

Two, credit where credit is due: I’ve since come across one bank – Kotak Mahindra Bank – that has been sending out realtime SMS alerts for over three years for credit cards and eight years for debit cards. I’m sure there might be a few others who have been doing so. I encourage readers to share their knowledge about these banks by leaving comments at the end of this post. Kudos to them for delivering such customer-friendly products well before they became compliance requirements. To me, it hardly matters whether they’re doing it out of kindness of their hearts or a selfish desire to cut down fraud losses, as some have suggested in response to my previous post.

Three, when I recently received the following SMS alert from BANK1, I discovered one more scenario in which BANK1’s product failed miserably and made my blood pressure shoot up instantly:

BANK1: Thank you for using your credit card for INR xx,xxx.00 on 15-Oct-2011.

I was at home when I received this alert, I hadn’t done any online shopping, and I definitely haven’t setup any recurring transaction of such a large amount, so I was almost sure that this was a fraudulent transaction. A five figure amount didn’t help quell my anxiety either. It was only a couple of hours later when my wife returned home that I learned that she’d used her BANK1 addon credit card to pay our daughter’s school fees. Therefore, it eventually turned out that there was no cause for concern around this transaction. (In case you’re wondering why I should be getting the SMS alert when my wife uses the addon card bearing her name, BANK1 and all other banks I deal with send account alerts only to the primary cardholder regardless of who uses the card.)

Let me call this usage scenario Addon Card Present One-Off . Since addon cards are quite popular in India, this scenario is far more common than the previously described Card Not Present Recurring one where BANK1’s product was found wanting. By failing to support Addon Card Present One-Off, BANK1 is going to cause angst to many more cardholders.

To me, this is the tipping point at which I’m led to the conclusion that ‘no alert is better than a bad alert’.

I’ve already written to BANK1 via their Internet Banking portal asking them to either enrich their SMS alert to include the merchant name or stop it altogether. Based on past experience, I’m mentally prepared to receive at least 2-3 emails with statements of platitudes like “we take your complaint seriously”,  “it is feedback like yours that helps us improve the quality of our service”, blah, blah, blah. Hopefully, by the fourth attempt, they’ll get my point. Depending on what they do afterwards, I’ll either hold on to this card or ditch it when my anxiety gets the better of my loyalty.

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