HDFC Bank to sell home loans through Web chats

"We see the cold-calling method (unsolicited calls) going off, especially considering the way the regulation is headed. Web is the future -- it is non-invasive, gets the really interested people and also allows the customer a record through histories," the bank's Senior Vice-President, Unsecured Loans Business, Sanjai Raina, told PTI here.

HDFC Bank has firmed up plans to start selling group company HDFC's home loans from later this month through web chat before the kick-off of the Diwali celebrations and a pilot for the same is already on, he added.

Web chat, Raina said, is a more transparent medium and there will be no mis-selling. For the last six-months, HDFC Bank has been selling personal loans through the web chat option as a pilot and already one per cent of its Rs 400 crore sales has happened through web chats.

"We are confident of taking it to three per cent in six months and to five per cent in a year's time," he said. For availing a home-loan, anybody can log on to HDFC Bank's designated web page, fill in details like amount required and salary drawn after which he chats with a sales representative.

"Based on set guidelines, the agent makes an appropriate offer and takes additional details from the customer to expedite the process," Raina said, adding in the absence of regulatory approvals, the entire process of sanctioning cannot be done online.

"Currently, it is a combination of online and warm body (physical) representation. Our representative has to collect the documents by visiting the customer," he said. HDFC's experience suggests that the cost of acquiring a customer is less than half as compared to employing a direct sales agent and a greater number of applications can be processed.

Currently, a team of six executives has been put on the project which has a capacity to handle 800 customers a day which will be scaled-up, Raina added. Over 90 per cent of web chat users in the pilot project were salaried and hence, HDFC Bank will be inviting its salary-account holders to have a taste of the service after which it may launch an advertising campaign, he said.

Several people, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, have in the past complained of getting unsolicited calls. Telecom sector watchdog TRAI is also preparing a set of guidelines on the issue currently.

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