Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ICICI's Token Box

I had visited ICICI bank to get a bank statement and a letter confirming that I held an account with ICICI. I walked into ICICI and approached a counter that was free and explained what I needed. The bank executive moved his hand in the general direction of the entrance and explained that I had to collect a token from a machine and wait for my turn. I said thanks and went looking for this machine. Now, I didn't want to seem like a person who wouldn't know what this machine would look like. I looked around discreetly. I saw a screen displaying token numbers and counter numbers. I saw a phone hung on a wall and another screen. I was standing right in front of this maroon color box. It looked like a box you drop cheques and so on into. I looked around once more, hoping to find this machine. I noticed that a few people hurriedly pressed few buttons on the maroon box and hastily grabbed the slip that popped out. I had managed to find the machine!

I needed time to look at the machine to figure out what I needed to do. So while I was standing and trying to figure this out, several hands sneaked in to collect tokens. Let me try and explain this box... ahem, machine. (unfortunately, there was a big notice warning me against clicking a snap) In the middle of the box, there was a tiny digital screen that displayed the status. Below this was a number pad (1-7) and below these were the buttons: cancel, gold customer, customer and non-customer. On the left panel, there was a piece of paper that listed what pressing each number meant. I read this list several times but was unable to find a suitable category for my task. I decided to go with 6 which was for account related activities such as fixed deposits. Now, I just had to feed in my choice. Oops.... Do I type in my identity as a customer first or the task? I was not sure. I asked a man standing waiting to gather a token. He asked me to type in the number first and then customer. I did as told. On the digital screen, the message 'This service is not available' appeared. A slip slid out from the right panel. I picked this up and saw NA written on it. Assuming that the task had failed, I did the same thing again and got the same message. The kind man who had helped me earlier stepped up and said look at the slip, it displays a token number. I opened the slip that I had crushed in my hand. Oh yeah! There it was CS522. I handed the other token to the man and thanked him. I sat down to wait for my turn. I observed that everyone got the same message. Meanwhile, an ICICI executive came and stood next to the box. I asked her why it displays this message. She smiled apologetically and said that's the way it is! Brilliant.

Kern also offers usability. I was just thinking about how our team of usability experts would have reacted to this machine. It was a nightmare! The token system is very useful, no doubt. But, this machine is dreadful!