SBI, even though it is the largest bank in India, never inspired me enough to open an account with them. Every time I heard this acronym SBI, all I could think was the Slowest Bank Of India rather that its actual expansion, State Bank Of India. But I was in for a surprise, when I went to open a savings account recently. I had already mentally prepared myself for a long haul, running across different counters, filling out numerous forms and all those classic red-tape things, that one could expect at a PSU. But things were different this time around and I soon was to find that out.
As I enter the branch, I notice a gentleman greeting me with a gentle smile on his face "Hello Sir, How are you ?? How can I help you ??" I told him, I am in for opening an account. He offered me a chair and handed over a one-page form to me. As I was filling this form, I enquired about the mandatory documents. The gentleman said "Sir, all we require for your account is an identity proof and an address proof". I said "I have a Passport and a Ration-Card, will that be enough ??". Gentleman replied in affirmation and handed over another 4-page form to me and instructed me to fill in all relevant details. After about 10 minutes, I submitted my form to him, he duly checked all the details and said "We are done with form-filling and documents verification, now just pay 1100 Rs at cash-counter and collect all your details like Debit-Card, PIN, Cheque-Book at New Accounts Section Counter No ..".
Before he could finish his line, I interrupted him "How about a guaranteer ?? Is not that also required for opening an account@SBI ??" The gentleman replied "Those were the days, Sir !! We don't mandate a guaranteer for new accounts any more" I said to myself "WoW". Since I didn't knew anyone having an account in this branch, this was a huge relief for me.
I am sure, not just for me, this must be a welcome sign for anyone willing to open an account in SBI. Otherwise, you would have to literally beg in front of other account-holders, that you could spot in the bank at that time, to become a guaranteer for you. I had to show off my identity card that I work for so and so company, all my certificates, xeroxes supported by originals, that I am not a terrorist by any stretch of imagination. And even then, guaranteers were hard to find. If you are lucky, you may very well find a generous fella, if not you may have to run across many of them, before anyone of them agrees to become a guaranteer for you.
After this I moved on to the cash-counter. It took me another 5 minutes to complete the formalities at the cash-counter. I filled a cash-deposit form, took a token and waited for my turn. In almost no time, my turn had come(here again my prejudice had recommended me to wait, wait patiently for a long time, after all it was a "Sarkari Bank", but I was again proven wrong by this new avatar of SBI).
After I paid 1100 Rs at cash-counter, I walked across to "New Accounts Section" and showed them my account-opening-form along with the payment-slip. The lady there at the counter asked me to produce the originals. I promptly took out all originals from my folder and showed it to her. She verified all the details provided against the same and offered her hands for a handshake "Congrats !! You are now an SBI customer ?? After the hand-shake, she handed me over an envelope and informed "Sir, you will be receiving your Passbook after 3-4 days. I opened the envelope, it consisted of almost everything that a new-account-holder would want, an ATM card, its PIN, a cheque book,a mobile banking pin etc. I was amazed with this show, put up by SBI employees. All it took me was mere 15 minutes to open an account with a Sarkari Bank, WoooooW !!
Way to go SBI, you impressed me and won my heart many times over. In a span of 15 minutes, my notion of SBI being a Slowest Bank Of India changed to a Superfast Bank Of India !! It will be some time, before we can call them as a Supreme Bank Of India in terms of agility and nimbleness, but its definitely changing, changing for the good, not only for itself, but also for all its customers.
I wish BSNL could also adopt similar attitude for its broadband operations(not many of us would be interested in their landlines and mobile-connections any way). I heard it offers the best internet in terms of connectivity, speed and reliability, but only if you manage to get one :-)