In a Relationship. Really?



“Mr. Lata Subramanian?”

“Do I sound like a man to you?”

“Sorry, am I speaking to Mrs. Lata Subramanian?”

“Please don’t assume my marital status. It’s Ms.”

Disconcerted silence for a moment or two.

Conversation resumes without acknowledging the correction.

“Good morning, I am <name> <surname>, your relationship manager. Please save my number so that you can call me directly to resolve any issue you may face with our service.”

“Thank you. It’s good to know I have a relationship manager I can interact with directly.”

3 months later



“Good afternoon. I am <different name>, your relationship manager. Please note my number so that you can call me directly if ever you need any help regarding our service.”

“What happened to my earlier relationship manager?”

Disconcerted silence again.

“Mam, I am your relationship manager now.”

“Okay, thank you. If I need anything, I will call you.”

3 months later and every couple of months after 

Conversation on the lines of the above repeats itself.

Finally, one day as I was walking out of Mumbai airport….



“Good evening. I am <YET A DIFFERENT NAME>, your Vodafone relationship manager. Please save my number so that you can call me directly should you ever need any assistance.”

“Listen, since you are on the line… on landing at Mumbai airport, why does it take so long for my phone to pick up your network reception?”

“Mam….you have to switch on your phone.”

After taking several deep breaths to refrain from calling my new relationship manager an idiot or worse, “I know I have to switch on my phone to pick up a network. My question is why does the network take so long to register on my phone?”

“Um, I am sorry, I don’t know the answer.”

“Look, forget it. I’ll figure it out myself. Please do me just one small favour. Please tell your management that I cannot even begin to form a relationship with anyone who calls just once and then disappears. Plus, if my relationship manager keeps changing every couple of months, what sort of relationship is that?”

“Um, um, um. Okay, Mam, thank you.”

Sometimes it’s better to do nothing at all 

Allow me to quote Oscar Wilde here: “To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”

Marketers and Heads of Customer Service functions in banks, telecom companies and their brethren would do well to heed Oscar Wilde’s observation when it comes to a customer service ploy called Relationship Managers.

Either that, or invest seriously in staffing and training a Customer Retention team who is skilled in building true blue customer relationships; the kind that goes onto increasing Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

The same holds true for privilege banking programs.

I recently walked into my bank branch to clarify certain matters. On entering, I went to the nearest, manned desk offering ‘Account Services.’ The gentleman seated there looked at my cheque book and re-routed me to another station, which was unmanned.

Seated there, I overheard the said gentleman excitedly proclaim to a colleague, “Privy customer, hai.”

The joke was I sat at the unmanned desk for privy customers for some 10 minutes before the gentleman assigned to the desk sauntered over.

So much for privileges.

And, so much for process driven organizations that label themselves as practising customer centricity.

If this post is of interest to you, you may also wish to read Is Customer Insensitivity All The Rage?

This post was originally published on Marketing Buzzar

Featured Image Credit: Welcoming All Problems by Zach ( CC BY-SA 2.0)

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