5 Lessons About Online Businesses: insights from customer service hell at Faysal Bank Limited

April 23, 2008 3:07 am 8 comments

Share this Article


Adnan Ali

One must make a habit to learn from whatever experience can be gained during the course of each day. My new employer requires employees to open accounts at the Faysal Bank (this one is located in Garden Town, Lahore). So I made my way there this morning to face customer service hell.

Here are five online business lessons I learned from my visit:

Their business is a privilege

Banks do not open a new account unless you can prove that you are socially acceptable and thus make available a reference who has an account with the same branch. It is just like getting into a club or emailing friends for invites to a particularly hot startup.

Faysal Bank Limited wanted me to deposit Rs. 5,000 in order to open my account. I had a check with me worth many times more than that, and my employer would be depositing a significant amount every month. But thats just not good enough for Faysal bank.

Do not charge for the privilege of gaining your customer’s/client’s business. I do not even prefer to get any more information than their email (for unique id) and password (for access to your system, only if necessary). Allow them to be comfortable, let them in to see what you have to offer. Offer reminders to add to their profile by showing how it will enhance their experience.

Show them the way

I new there was going to be trouble as soon as I became a ping pong ball between two bank employees who could not decide where I should go to get my account opened. I was new in the environment and it was annoying. All I needed was clear direction. If the bank had any sign pointing me to the right person, I would not have felt like leaving.

First time visitors to your online business feel exactly the same. They come with a mix of expectation and curiosity. If you can not show them how to do what they want to achieve in the first few, precious minutes of acquisition, they are going to walk straight out of there by clicking the back button.

Perform A/B, multivariate testing and engage sample of users in pre-launch surveys to see just how they react when the reach your home page. It is going to save you a lot of bad word of mouth later on. Also, do not over burden them with too much information. Introduce and establish your tips / help methodology early on and provide just enough information for them to be productive.

Quality over quantity

I spent some 50 odd minutes in the bank today. Most of the time was spent sitting at the desk of this lady who had her attention solely and unequivocally on the phone in her hand. It was like I was watching some Star Plus soap. Apparently she was in conversation (she thought in hushed tones) with her fiance/husband about her nature and that of his family members. There was talk of leaving the job and/or studies and how some things were just not acceptable to her. There was no eye contact, no attention to my repetitive time checks and at one point, she wrote some one else’s name on the deposit form for my initial 5,000 rupees. She was on the phone when I was guided to her desk. She was on the phone when her colleague left his client to see why I had been sitting there for so long. I would like to thank the gentleman for his service.

The point is, average time on page is a metric touted by web analysts every where. It measures how long did a visitor stay at a particular page. It does not tell any thing about the quality of the stay. Is the visitor confused about what to do next? Is she trying to figure out what she can from cluttered information? Are her expectations and needs being met? Check to see if visitors are spending too much time on a few pages. Let visitors tell you about the possible issue by prominently placing feedback mechanisms.

Reliable and repeatable processes

At one point of time, she received a document for signature verification. It did not seem to her that it is an important step in the banking process. The whole idea is to make sure that transactions remain secure and reliable. The lady signed the verification without having a look via her computer or the customary bank sign cards. Couple that with the software system being ‘down’, which later turned out to be an internee’s misinterpretation, I now have severe doubts about the security of my deposit and the reliability of the bank’s processes.

This applies specially to online businesses. Monetary transactions are not the only issue here. Expectations are similar when it comes to data. It can be personal, professional, earned(like points or reviews) or business. The processes that you set up should be reliable and repeatable. If there is manual input at any step the customer should be made aware of such and proper security measures should be in place. No need to say such measures should have checks of their own. For God sake do not sell customer profiles or even worse, loose it.

Relationship Mechanisms

My new account must have been created by now. I will receive a welcome letter in a couple of days. It has been an experience, that I’ll say. The output of my interaction, a check book and an ATM card will be arriving soon. Not really, I will have to visit the bank 5 days from now to pick up the check book and again in 10 days to pick up my ATM card. Why are they doing this to me and what horror will I face the next time.

They will have already confirmed my postal address by sending me the welcome letter. It could have easily been couriered for confirmation. They could have asked me to email them some key number from the welcome letter. Instead they want me to bring the letter to them twice in 10 days to get what I could have gotten sitting at home.

How you choose to continue your relationship with the customer is a fundamental question. There are many flavors. Some banks have account managers. Warid Telecom has a specific person who calls me every month to ask if I am happy with the service level and to get fresh idea of my needs. Other companies make it obvious and easy for me to get in touch whenever there is an issue.

Your customer should only visit you in case she wants repeat business, or you have impressed her enough to try another of your products or services. Every one loves pushed data when its contextual. If she has an order, push her information about its approval status, payment processing and delivery status. Do not make the customer come to you for information that should have been provided already.

Bonus lesson

Give your business, the suppliers, vendors, customers and visitors your wholehearted and unrelenting attention. Make them feel the most important people in your life. Success of a business is in the strong footprint of the entrepreneur.

Facebook comments:


  • Excellent post!


    Nice post…but it is confusing as to you are telling your experience at the Bank or you are suggesting Founders of online business on what to do. I dont see the relevance.

  • Startup

    Just a note – the employer should get the account open herself. You shouldn’t have to go to the bank and get khwarofied like this :)

  • Good one! one of my best read’s today i think.

    However, I have also been a client with Faysal bank, for the last three years infact, and have had my account in two seperate branches. I believe i was fortunate enough to have good customer service reps at both places, because i didn’t face any issue whatsoever.

    At the first branch, my employee account was opened by the office staff, i didn’t even have to go to the branch. just signed an authority letter and got my account number immediately and the checkbook in a couple of days.

    The second time i opened, i was told the refferal requirement wasn’t necessary anymore, i only needed a letter on my company letterhead about my employment status. It took my three days to get that from my head office, and in the meanwhile, my account was opened on the basis of my business card (with the condition that i would submit the letter asap). No hassle there.

    On the day of the opening, i was told the system was down and not issuing account numbers.. so i just gave them the money, had my deposit slip signed and left. Two hours later, they called me on my cell, gave me the new account number and confirmed the deposit slip had been processed. Even gave the transaction number of it for my records.

    Lastly (and the one reason i think i’ll never shift!), i wrote two checks from that account. When the checks came to the branch, they saw i didn’t have enough money in my account.. instead of rejecting the checks, they *called* me, saying they had stopped processing them, and if i came in that day and resolved the issue, the checks wouldn’t bounce. I went there a little while later, found out that the problem was with their system, resolved it, was apologized to profusely, and left.

    I dont believe any other branch would give that kind of customer service to their regular customers (note: i am a regular customer, not a gold, platinum or high roller one).

    my new branch is F-8 Markaz, Islamabad. Old one was Sh-e-Faisal, Karachi.

  • TEE BEE: I realized I was having a particularly bad experience. Since all I do is think about web/mobile based businesses, I started thinking how these things effect our online visitors. I gave them the benefit of doubt of having an off day, but our online visitors will never do that. The more I sat there, the more I found relevance it made to me.

    mansoor: The point of my post was not to beat up on Faysal bank. I have heard good things about them too. As I said above, I realize that every person or organization can go through a disaster day where most things go wrong.

    The point was to transfer my negative experience into positive learning.

    Startup: Why did not I think of that :P

  • PS: If it turns out that levels of service vary on branch to branch basis, then it points to further organization wide problems. For instance, while the lady was on the phone, the colleague on the next desk could only ask me if I was being served. May be she outranked him or they were on equal standing.

    Where was the floor manager or some one who was looking after the KPI regarding maximum amount of time it should take a new customer to open an account?

  • My personal experience with Meezan Bank’s different branches in Karachi, is different. Though, overall they are not bad.

    I also see a huge difference of the customer services between large banks (HBL, UBL, MCB not a good service at more branches) and comparatively smaller banks (MB, FB) etc.

  • Well, for online business, you must have a good idea / base and than it should be presented in a way that once a visitor visits the site, it should make him feel as this place is specially built for him. The feel and comfort of the look, contents, and procedure must be simple and comprehensive.

    If you have something interesting there and is presented will, you will get those visitors to hit back again.

Recent Posts

  • General 10Pearls Spins Off Game Plan8

    10Pearls Spins Off Game Plan8

    It’s heartening to see that Pakistani IT companies have now started to diversify themselves into non traditional areas, and are competing with global players in areas such as gaming. We have received information that 10Pearls, one of the leading  mobile and enterprise web development services companies in Pakistan, has spun-off a separate entity focused solely on developing and publishing casual mobile games.  The new entity, Game Plan8, will focus on creating 2D and 3D games for the iOS, Google Android, Kindle, Facebook and other platforms. Details can be seen on the company’s official press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11428177.htm


    Read more →
  • General Telecom CCP Gives Guidelines Against Telecom Companies’ Deceptive Marketing

    CCP Gives Guidelines Against Telecom Companies’ Deceptive Marketing

    If only were there two things when it comes to the law, firstly the fear of breaking it and by passing the legal authority, and secondly, implementation of the law given full dedication, there would have been less competency and dishonesty in business and society. However, keeping good faith, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has put forward “Deceptive Marketing Guidelines” which will maintain the Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. In order to enforce this part of the law and stop anti-competitive conduct on part of the telecom companies in advertising, the guidelines have been shared with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other concerned telecommunication sector members, in …

    Read more →
  • General Pakistan’s Energy Solutions as Seen by Tameer Energy and Planetary Power Incorp.

    Pakistan’s Energy Solutions as Seen by Tameer Energy and Planetary Power Incorp.

    From time to time, despite all odds against Pakistan’s current security vulnerability, business and foreign investment come into the country for the potential and opportunities it provides. Pakistan’s energy needs are tremendous and it needs innovative energy solutions. An international energy solutions company based in Europe has taken interest in exploring its chances in Pakistan’s energy market and is willing to offer latest energy solutions at a low cost. This foreign company is Tameer Energy, part of the Tameer Foundation, which promises to bring state-of-the-art technology developed by NASA engineers to Pakistan.

    The CEO of Tameer Energy, Saeed Zuberi says that this technology has not been applied anywhere yet. The …

    Read more →
  • General Telecom Biometric SIM Verification System Delayed Due to Absence of Officials at PTA

    Biometric SIM Verification System Delayed Due to Absence of Officials at PTA

    The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was supposed to have completed the system of biometric SIM verification by now, but it has been delayed. The biometric SIM verification system was required for purchase of new connections. The delay had been caused by the absence of decision-making officials at the PTA. The other parties concerned with this new system to be introduced, both the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and the telecom companies are all prepared for this new system to take over.

    The absence of officials has been caused by the internal problems that PTA has been going through one after the other. After the dismissal of the former chairman Farooq …

    Read more →
  • General LEJ Nanotechnology Research Centre Begins Construction at the University of Karachi

    LEJ Nanotechnology Research Centre Begins Construction at the University of Karachi

    Recently, the construction for the Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) Nanotechnology Research Centre began at the University of Karachi. The ceremony for this occasion was performed by the former Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman along with Dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof. Dr. Shahana Urooj Kazmi. Other government representatives were also in attendance.

    The LEJ Research Institute of Nanotechnology will be established inside Karachi University’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS). The Hussein Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Foundation has contributed a lot in Pakistan’s scientific endeavours and has brought the country regional and international recognition. Due to these institutes, Pakistan is known in the …

    Read more →
  • General Telecom New Telecommunication Projects worth Rs. 71 Million in Rural Sindh Initiated

    New Telecommunication Projects worth Rs. 71 Million in Rural Sindh Initiated

    Recently, the Prime Minister inaugurated different telecommunication, health and education projects worth Rs.1.7 billion in Sanghar, Sindh. Telecommunication is important for socio-economic growth, because not only does it provides connectivity, but also employment to thousands of people. The three schemes for telecommunication are worth Rs.71 million. It is positive news that a rural area in interior Sindh is being brought up to the level as rest of the country through initiation of these projects.

    Through the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Rural Telecom Project, around 213 villages in Mirpurkhas and 426 villages in Dadu in Sindh will get basic telephony and data services with a subsidy of Rs.930 million and Rs.250 …

    Read more →
  • Announcements General Mobile Apps Software & I.T. Jugnoo Media releases “Duddoo Aur Dhobi”

    Jugnoo Media releases “Duddoo Aur Dhobi”

    There is a dearth of apps for kids and toddlers focusing on Urdu language. So its always feels great when an organization makes an effort to address this small niche market. We have companies like Qurtaba who made some great small apps on iPhone and iOS, and then ToffeeTv generated some great content for kids in Urdu available on web. Now we have Jugnoo Media working on promoting Urdu and Urdu apps for kids and Toddlers.


    They have released an app for iPad and iPhone, its called Duddoo Aur Dhobi which is a combination of two Urdu Poems and presented in a very fun and attractive, interactive poem. Kids …

    Read more →
  • General NIDA will Offer Courses in Design, Marketing, and Computer Skills

    NIDA will Offer Courses in Design, Marketing, and Computer Skills

    The National Institute of Design and Analysis (NIDA) will be conducting specialised vocational courses for females that will equip them for Fashion and Textile Design, Apparel Making and Domestic Tailoring. Other than these, female students will also be offered courses in Multimedia Graphics, Architecture Design, Basic Auto CAD, and Basic Computer Skills.

    The Technology Upgradation and Skill Development Company (TUSDEC) has a subsidiary, NIDA, which will be undertaking all of these vocational courses. TUSDEC is registered with Trade Testing Board (TTB) for CAD/CAM enabled vocational courses.

    The spokesperson further said that the courses are open for enrolment where each course is signified with an extensive and operable curricula particularly contrived …

    Read more →
  • General E-Waste Recycling Workers in Pakistan Get Exposed to Toxic Fumes, Environment is Threatened

    E-Waste Recycling Workers in Pakistan Get Exposed to Toxic Fumes, Environment is Threatened

    Toxic fumes from e-waste in Pakistani villages have become a major environmental and health hazard. Mostly pure people from the villages burn these e-waste products, those computers, devices and gadgets that have been discarded irresponsibly by the users and various companies. In Pakistan, there said to exist a secret, in words illegal, e-waste recycling cottage industry that has been recently reported several times. The attention of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) toward the drastic situation these toxic fumes lead to must be focused on solving the issue as they are part of the market.

    At a recent conference held in Zurich on ICT for Sustainability, the e-waste in Pakistan …

    Read more →