In today’s competitive world of business wars, companies challenge each other on the ground of providing high quality service that exceeds the expectations of a consumer, winning them over as loyal customers. Providing service for tangible goods, is usually in the premise of making the consumer gain knowledge, decide and then offering post sales services, if any needed.
However on the contrary, in the services industry, for e.g. banks, hotels and airports, the service provided is the crux of the business and the deciding factor between winning and losing a customer. The challenge of providing an intangible service creates the need for the front line staff and employees of the business to be fully equipped and trained to assist a customer, who wishes to gain maximum satisfaction for the price he/she is paying.
When looking at customer service, one must understand its importance and need in the competitive banking sector, which is modernized and digitalized than ever. The frontline staff of a bank, and their relationship and interaction with the consumer, is pivotal to winning and retaining their customers.
Every bank may be offering similar products/services, such as Saving Accounts, Credit Accounts, Credit Cards and Loans etc., but it is the direct service, one that is provided by the front line, which is the distinguishing point. Companies have now started to invest higher amounts of budgets on the training of their front line staff, to train them in CRM (customer relationship management). However many companies argue that it is not just CRM training that is needed but to train staff to be emotionally intelligent, in ‘moments of truth’ that help gain customer bank.
“According to Forrester research, only 10 percent of business and IT executives surveyed strongly agreed that business results anticipated from implementing CRM were met or exceeded.”
‘Moments of truth’ is defined as: an instance of contact or interaction between a customer and a firm (through a product, sales force, or visit) that gives the customer an opportunity to form (or change) an impression about the firm.
Research says that consumers are the most emotional in these moments, and if dealt with care and intelligence can be won over by the company as ‘loyal’ customers.
Customer Service on the Wings of Technology
A great achiever in the increasing customer service can be seen by the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), which was formed in 1985 and grew to be a foremost financial institution in the UAE and wider gulf cooperation council (GCC) region by 2003. ADCB pays great concentration on serving its customers well by using every tool possible, resulting to be a business with a strong customer- centric approach.
This is seen through rigorous efforts of facing their ATM challenge; when ADCB’s customers would occasionally experience a time-out when using one of the bank’s 120 ATMs, although the transaction would be successful in the second attempt, and the error occurred only 30-40 times during 25000 daily transactions.
The ATM time-out was a result of the system error in ADCB’s Oracle database environment, and the requirement for real-time read/write reporting. ADCB then started using Quest’s Foglight® for Oracle and Spotlight® on Oracle that enabled the admin to correct availability issues and provide better service in peak periods of system activity.
“Foglight quickly alerts us of any problems, enabling us to fix them before our users or customers are affected”, said Chris D’Costa, head of IT services and support, ADCB. “This ensures our customer service levels are maintained, which helps protect our business.”
A comparison with ADCB can be seen by the, Dubai bank, which is viewed as a modern Islamic bank and provides corporate and personal banking services to the UAE’s domestic and expatriate market. Dubai bank which has always catered a customer centric approach as well by providing a data center and a contact center to coordinate its daily on goings felt the need to upgrade its IT system, due to lack of compatibility on multiple levels. In a report by Genesys on the Dubai bank IT system, they mentioned the bank was facing problems such as “lack of sufficient reliability, flexibility, and scalability to support their new growth strategy”.
Dubai Bank like all strategically smart companies is customer centric and focuses on constantly improving service between the customer and the bank. They introduced the Genesys and AlcatelLucent Enterprise solutions, to meet challenges such as reducing abandoned call rates, create a reliable and flexible environment to support customers over any channel etc. After adopting the software, Dubai bank also looked into training the staff with a particular skill set and made sure the solution would also be able to integrate with the Microsoft CRM platform so the frontline staff and call centers had full access to customer data and could serve them better.
“Our key focus has always been on customer needs and building long-lasting relationships to drive growth”, explains Faizal Eledath, Chief Information Officer, Dubai Bank
The benefits that the Dubai Bank gained were immense as stated in the report by Genesys:
- Abandoned calls have fallen from 25 percent to five percent
- Self-service options handle 65 percent of calls
- Branch network has increased from 13 to 21 outlets
- Decreased costs, increased flexibility, and enhanced performance
- Support multi-channel business model
Along with this ACN Arab Technology Awards recently recognized the organization with the ‘Banking and Finance Implementation of the Year’ award.
Insights and Ideas by the GCC
A report published ‘Retail banking in the GCC’ by , Ernst & Young, highlights the multiple steps banks need to take in order to improve customer experience through high quality service. The first element of effective banking customer service is speed. Consumers feel that banking is getting tedious and needs to be simplified, so consumers can help themselves through services like automated teller machines (ATMs) and mobile banking services etc. The survey report produced many findings concerning retail banking, including the ones stated below.
“70% of GCC respondents cited transaction speed as being highly important to them in terms of their relationship with their bank”.
“GCC customers want Islamic banking, as 63% of respondents cited Shariah compliance as a highly important requirement in their primary banking relationship. Shariah-sensitive customers are demanding delivery excellence and service, as 83% cited transaction speed (vs.70% total) and 78% cited service quality as important to them (vs. 66% total)”.
High quality customer service can help create lasting relationships among the customers and the banks. The same report as above states that customer service done right can generate happier more profitable customers.
“24% of respondents have been with their primary banks for one to three years, roughly the same proportion for three to five years. Only 45% of GCC relationships exceed five years (vs. 70% in Europe, 64% in Asia Pacific)”.
This report sets the standards that banking if personalized to the requirement of the client can win their hearts and retain them. In today’s busy times, customers want a quick, convenient and reliable banking system, which can be on the go with them.
All in all the management needs to understand that the customer centric approach is the highest rewarding strategy and when mixed with top quality service and product offerings, can result into long lasting profits and returns.
A skilled team set, trained in dealing with the customers complains, inquiries and needs, is an essential asset for businesses who must invest in their employees especially the front line staff, so the client is fully satisfied with the customer service and continues enjoying the services.