So, yesterday I met with the folks from Axis Bank. As an NRI, I was looking for some credit cards I could use. But instead, got pitched for their Burgundy premium banking services and it was a disappointment. Here’s the story.
As a context to this, I think most banks in India, forgets one thing when they meet a new potential customer – understanding their requirements and solving their problems. Some folks do, but most don’t. It’s such a simple and powerful thing to do. Just understand what your customer needs first, then pitch products that match his/her criteria. Instead, what most bank-men end up doing is blatantly pitching what products they were told to sell and end up totally ignoring the customer’s needs.
I do most of my banking with SBI. Not because they have fancy products or plastic-smiling people to welcome you at the branch. But they get things done. Sometimes you have to text the manager but that’s all it takes. No frills but get stuff done. I agree that not all of their products are amazing. But there are a few gems and it’s on you to understand what is required for you and choose accordingly.
Axis bank on the other hand, came to me yesterday with this fancy looking catalogue. Even before understand who I am or what my needs are, the sales person started pitching me their Burgundy product with all gun blazing. 2 minutes later, I had to stop him and said..
“Boss, I just want a credit card. If your services are good, I’m open to starting an NRE account with you, and see how it goes.”
He stopped his pitch and called up his manager. I see many sales guys doing this tactic. I don’t even know who the guy on the other end is. May be his friend, may be his real boss. I don’t know.
So, I talked to the “brand manager” and he says that credit cards are not easily available for NRIs. Not sure if he understands that I’m looking at the page in this fancy booklet I’m handed over by his executive, which says that Burgundy customers will get a credit card “packed with offers” with no annual fee and joining fee.
So anyways let’s get to the point. Axis Bank’s Burgundy Premium Banking Services.
So, according to Economic Times, this product is for the wealthy NRIs (and residents). Where if you have a balance of 5 Lakhs in your NRE account, Axis bank will give you “VIP treatment”.
I enquired what they mean by “VIP treatment”. Sales guy says that I will have a dedicated relationship manager at the bank, I will be a preferential customer, and that I’ll be greeted by someone special at the bank, and that I’ll be invited to special events by the bank.
“Will you give me better interest rates on my deposits?”
“Will you give me access to other financial products, say credit cards?”
“What kind of events will I get invited to”
Not sure, but they will be special.
At this point, apart from the fancy booklet, this sounds like a trap where I have to park my funds indefinitely and they will try to sell me products that I don’t want, and I will get invited to “events”.
I hope I’m wrong. Because Deepika Padukone seems to be having a hell of a good time with her Burgundy status. (in the booklet)
At this point, I decide to read the booklet and figured out that Burgundy gives you the following features..
- An ATM Debit Card with no limits (or generous limits).
- Lounge access at Airports domestic and international.
- A multi-currency forex card (which offers not so great rates).
- An Axis Direct trading account.
- Preferential services and phone banking. (Last time I spoke to someone from Axis bank on the phone, I could hardly hear the lady because of the noise of some party or something going on the background and all the laughing and mayhem. Preferential treatment? No thanks.)
- Preferential rates on other products (The guy on the phone just said he can’t give any credit cards)
- Advanced mobile banking. (Not sure what advanced means but I assume this is their mobile app)
- One Glance Statement – I assume this is like an account summary.
- Loans at special rates (Not defined what special rates mean).
- Lot of business solutions (Current account, Credit facilities, Treasury, Forex and Trading, Payment Gateways, Private Equity etc)
- Burgundy Debit Card – Higher transaction limits, Unlimited cash withdrawals, Access to lounges and golf courses, Insurance cover of Rs.1 Crore etc
- Axis Bank Select Credit Card – No joining or annual fee, lounge access, golf rounds, shopping voucher from Aldo, Mango, Mark and Spencer etc
- Complimentary movie tickets from BookMyShow (with monthly limits)
I think Axis has put a lot of thought into how to create a “one stop solution” service for NRIs with Burgundy. I like the fact that you can get a dedicated point of contact at the bank but at the same time, hate that it’s more of a way for the bank to pitch products and get the customer invest in other products. It would’ve been nice if the contact would help with your day to day banking or just regular services without any interest in other products (at least without the push from sales executives). Perhaps, that’s how Axis has designed it – to offer priority banking services to it’s high net worth individuals. But I personally don’t like the aggression and sales-sy approach with any bank. They always tend to up-sell me their services and everything else takes a bad experience. I hope this product isn’t such a one, although at the very first engagement, it does look like it.