Three opportunities for banks

Ernst & Young conducted a survey and their Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014 identified three key improvement areas for banks:

 1.    Make banking simple and clear

Consumers are constantly flooded with information and struggle to understand choices, charges and changes. To make banking easy for customers, banks should be transparent and concise around fees, rates, services and other communications.

Customers depend on web, mobile, social media, telephone and in-person channels, so banks should offer an omni-channel experience that combines both traditional and digital banking. To stay competitive, financial institutions need to continue building channel capabilities to provide seamless 24/7, real-time access to banking.

2.    Help customers make the right financial decisions

Many consumers want help developing their financial plans and goals. The banks that provide that advice are likely to grow their businesses.

More than 70% of respondents say they would increase business with their provider if advisory services improved. Banks have the opportunity to create a mutual exchange of value by personalizing the experience, based on a holistic perspective of the customer’s unique situation and needs.

Banks can augment this experience by leveraging both internal and external resources. This could include a skilled network of financial advisors, data about what similar customers have spent and personal financial management tools that help customers save, invest and spend more wisely.

3.    Be proactive in anticipating and solving problems

Effective problem solving is vital to any bank-customer relationship. Problems are inevitable, but survey data shows that there is astounding upside if customers are satisfied with their problem resolution versus a downward spiral in trust and business if dissatisfied.

Of the customers who were very satisfied with how a problem was resolved, a majority (58%) gave more or all of their business to the institution. Conversely, 19% of customers dissatisfied with the resolution and 32% of customers very dissatisfied with the resolution reported closing some or all of their accounts/services.

Making it easy for customers to raise issues, equipping the front line to handle certain problems and escalate others, explaining why the issue occurred and following up to ensure resolution is complete are crucial to successfully handling problems.

Delhi airport is one of the best performing airports

FlightStats conducted a study at dozens of the world’s highest-traffic airports, examining thousands of flights from each during the month of June to see how frequently they left on time.  The more likely a flight from that airport was to leave on time, the better the airport could be said to perform.

According to the study, the world’s most reliable major airports are in Japan and its least reliable are in China. The two best performing airports are in Tokyo: Flights out of Haneda and Narita had, respectively, a 95.04 and 86.38 chance of leaving on time.

The two worst performing airports were also in East Asia, but in China: Beijing and Shanghai. Only 28.72% of Shanghai flights left on time. In Beijing, it was only 18.3%, the lowest in the world.

Some European airports also reported high rates of delays. Istanbul and Moscow are two of the only other airports where a flight had a less than 50% chance of leaving on time. Rome and Paris, despite being in wealthy European capitals but maybe because of all the tourist traffic, scored just under 60% on-time departures.

One interesting case is New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport. It’s big, moving about as much traffic as Newark or London Gatwick, but managed a higher on-time score than both: an impressive 84.28%. Only 1% of New Delhi departures were cancelled.

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India is often described as having poor infrastructure compared to the West, while China’s infrastructure is often praised as a big success story. Broadly speaking, that might be true, but Indira Gandhi International is a nice counter-factual, proof that sometimes Indian infrastructure can outperform much of the world’s.

I travel through Indira Gandhi International airport several times a year and the facilities and infrastructure at this airport are really praiseworthy.

Hat Tip: Washington Post

Are chocolates really heart-healthy!

A recent study that combined the results of 42 small clinical trials found that people fed chocolate or cocoa for a few weeks to months had small dips in their blood pressure and improved blood vessel function.

On average, chocolate eaters shaved a couple of points from their blood pressure and they also had a dip in their levels of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. High insulin levels are linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are far from the first to connect chocolate to heart health. A number of widely reported studies have also found that chocolate lovers seem to have lower rates of certain heart risks, like high blood pressure. Unfortunately, I do not fall into this category. I am a patient of essential hypertension since last 18 years.

Admittedly, there are shortcomings in the tests and the results cannot be treated as confirmed effects. However, I buy the result of the research, simply because I love chocolates, especially dark chocolates. Such studies fortify my love for dark chocolates.

Today is the birthday of my wife, Jaya. This post is dedicated to her so that she can enjoy some chocolates and her birthday cake with chocolate!

Metformin may protect against cancer

Metformin, a well-tolerated drug prescribed for diabetics, may also protect against liver cancer, says a new study. Metformin increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin. It is one of the most widely used diabetes drugs.

The study, led by Geoffrey Girnun, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, looks at the effect of Metformin in cancer prevention and is one of the first to evaluate liver cancer.

He and his colleagues chemically induced liver tumours in mice. These mice taking Metformin displayed minimal tumour activity, while the control mice (not given Metformin) displayed significant tumour growth, said a university statement.

Girnun’s team also showed that Metformin prevented liver cancer in part by inhibiting lipid synthesis in the liver, a process known to promote cancer.

Another study in mice exposed to tobacco carcinogens shows that the drug can reduce the development of lung tumours by more than 70%, and results from a small clinical trial in Japan suggest it can reduce rates of colorectal tumours in humans. The National Cancer Institute is now organizing a clinical trial to test the drug in people who smoke, and other trials are testing it against breast and prostate cancer.

Well, this is good news for all those, who are unfortunate like me suffering from diabetes and taking Metformin daily. Hope, that it truly proves to be a good cancer preventive medicine. Amen!

Are we becoming nomophobes?

If you know the panicked and disconnected feeling of leaving your mobile phone at home, you might be one of the many suffering from nomophobia. Nomophobia (no-mobile-phobia) is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

A recent survey by U.K.-based mobile security service provider SecurEnvoy conducted among 1,000 people found that two-thirds (66%) of respondents fear losing or being without their mobile phone. Just four years ago a similar survey found that only 53 per cent of people suffered from nomophobia. The phobia also includes the anxiety someone feels when not in the range of a cell tower to receive optimal reception.

Younger demographics are also more likely to be nomophobic, as 77% said they fear being without their phone. Meanwhile, those aged 25 to 34 are the second most nomophobic group, followed by mobile users over 55. However, women (70%) worry more about losing their phones than men (61%).

SecurEnvoy also cited a recent study published by the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology found that people check their phones about 34 times a day on average. So, if you misplace your phone, it won’t take very long to realise it.

The development of nomophobia should not come as a surprise, it is simply an extension of the human need for connection. In these modern times of social media, high-speed internet and laptops, people feel more connected than ever. However, it is important to be at peace with disconnection as well.

Is there a cure for nomophobia?

According to the website allaboutcounseling.com, nomophobes can be treated by exposure therapy or medication. First a person can start imagining what it would be like to be without a phone. And then maybe spend small amounts of time away from the phone.

Damn it, I need a break and want to relax for a few days in a remote, tranquil place, deep inside a forest, besides a cool stream. Well, it’s a dream now!

Did the Earth ever have two moons?

A new theory suggests the Earth once had a small second moon that perished in a slow motion collision with its “big sister”. Researchers suggest the collision may explain the mysterious mountains on the far side of our Moon. The scientists say the relatively slow speed of the crash was crucial in adding material to the rarely-seen lunar hemisphere. Details have been published in the journal Nature.

For decades, scientists have been trying to understand why the near side of the Moon – the one visible from Earth – is flat and cratered while the rarely-seen far side is heavily cratered and has mountain ranges higher than 3,000m. But this latest paper proposes a different solution: a long-term series of cosmic collisions.

The researchers argue that the Earth was struck about 4 billion years ago by another planet about the size of Mars. This is known as the global-impact hypothesis. The resulting debris eventually coalesced to form our Moon. The researchers believe one way of proving their theory is to compare their models with the detailed internal structure of the moon that will be obtained by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.