A Tale Of Two Banks

May 18, 2009
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I have bank accounts at ICICI & Citibank (India). I also use credit cards of these two companies. Let’s first talk about their Mobile Banking services. ICICI has the following options:

My account getting credited above
My account getting debited above
Salary credited to my account #
Cheque deposited in my account bounced
Account Balance above
Account Balance below
Debit Card Purchases above

Messages for the above can be received through SMS, Email or both.

Citibank calls it Alerts, and they offer the following options:

Withdrawal balance by account
Withdrawal balance by account
Time deposit maturity advice
Cheque Status
Cheque Bounce Alert
Time Deposit Redemption Notice
Cheque dishonor

These messages can be received through SMS, Email or Both depending on the alert type. Also, for some of the alerts, message frequencies can be chosen as Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.

At first glance, it seems that Citibank offers more options but a closer look…



I have bank accounts at ICICI & Citibank (India). I also use credit cards of these two companies. Let’s first talk about their Mobile Banking services. ICICI has the following options:

My account getting credited above
My account getting debited above
Salary credited to my account #
Cheque deposited in my account bounced
Account Balance above
Account Balance below
Debit Card Purchases above

Messages for the above can be received through SMS, Email or both.

Citibank calls it Alerts, and they offer the following options:

Withdrawal balance by account
Withdrawal balance by account
Time deposit maturity advice
Cheque Status
Cheque Bounce Alert
Time Deposit Redemption Notice
Cheque dishonor

These messages can be received through SMS, Email or Both depending on the alert type. Also, for some of the alerts, message frequencies can be chosen as Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.

At first glance, it seems that Citibank offers more options but a closer look will reveal ICICI has done more research and come up with a better offering. The Citibank alerts are based on how frequently you want them while ICICI’s alerts are based on particular (defined by the customer) credited and debited amounts. ICICI’s options make more sense as I don’t want alerts daily or weekly, but only when I have made a transaction.

And because of the lack of options, I continue to receive daily alerts on my Citibank account balance irrespective of the fact that the balance remains the same or I haven’t done any transaction for a month. Also, the system at Citibank looks more like a typical CRM system while the one at ICICI looks more like a BI system.

Now, let’s discuss their Credit Cards and their Customer Analytics.

I have been using an ICICI Gold credit card for almost 3 years now. I used it to pay all my bills – electricity bill, mobile bill, internet bill, shopping bills….and I paid all dues in time. I applied for, and got the Citibank Gold card about a year after I got my ICICI card. I used the Citibank Gold card for 2-3 purchases, paid all the dues in time, and Citibank increased my credit limit every time.

Encouraged by their response (I got very nice emails from their customer service) and actions (increase of credit limit), I started using the Citibank Gold card more frequently. In a few months’ time, I got a free-for-life Citibank Platinum card with all these attractive features and benefits. I even got an invitation to join a wine club though I’m more of a rum and whiskey guy. Don’t blame them though; getting your hands on such kind of consumer lifestyle/preferences data will be next to impossible in India.

I have now almost forgotten the ICICI Gold card; I use it very rarely these days. The credit limit given to me 3 years back still remains the same. And I have never received a single email or communication from ICICI. I also know that ICICI bank outsources its Customer Analytics to an Analytics Service Provider in Mumbai. So where is the up sell analytics? Doesn’t their data show the fact that I am “almost” leaving now? That again reveals the fact that customer spending information is not at all analyzed and they are not doing much about customer churn either.