In an exclusive interview with customerservice.ae, Mr. Waqar Khan Durrani, Manager for Card Acquisition and Strategy Business Development Department, at Emirates Islamic Bank in UAE shared his perspective on customer service in the banking sector. He highlighted how Emirates Islamic Bank provides service to its valuable customers.
How do you define customer service and its importance in a bank?
Waqar K Durrani: Customer service is the base of good banking and no bank will win its goal without fulfilling its customer requirement in the long run. It is important to understand the demands of the market and customer requirements. Providing customers with what they are looking for; helps the bank further establish itself and deal with competition. It is important to learn about the behavior of the customer and provide service accordingly.
Customers’ needs must be heard, and products delivered to them should have stability for both the customer as well as the bank. We look to develop products that last longer and provide utility to the customer and give them a comfortable experience.
When a customer comes to your bank and wants to get a credit card, how would you describe the customer journey?
Waqar K Durrani: We at Emirates Islamic Bank have created a very smooth process for a customer to approach us. We have 55 branches across UAE and call centers which are open for customers to call 24/7. The customer can approach us through the medium he or she wishes to and apply for a credit card. Our team then assesses the case of the customer, evaluates and finds the credit card criteria best suited for the customer. Based on the specific case, we then provide them with the relevant documents that need to be filled in so the customer’s credit card process can begin.
Once the credit card has been approved and the process is complete, we deliver the card to the address of the customer. We use the mailing service Empost for our delivery services, which is a courier service in UAE.
There is a lot of competition in the banking industry in UAE, what features in your credit card give you an edge over your competitors?
Waqar K Durrani: Our bank always aims to provide credit cards and products which have unique features so they stand out. We give our customers the option of utilizing the points they make on their cards through various mediums. We have our skywards card, which lets customers redeem the points they earn, by upgrading their flights on the Emirates Airline or using them to buy their ticket.
We also have the Abu Dhabi card which lets customers redeem their points, by either using it for Etihad Airline or even for cash and vouchers. The vouchers can be used for the various shopping options, such as the famous Paris gallery, for membership at health clubs, shopping at Carrefour etc. When buying our cards, the customers are given a list of the benefits that they can avail with using the card and collecting points on it.
When you launch a product, how do you evaluate what features your clients are looking for?
Waqar K Durrani: We do our own market research and take surveys of customers to understand what they are looking for. After extensive research and market analysis by our own teams at Emirates Islamic bank, we develop our products and their features which best suit the customers as well as keeping the interest of the bank in focus.
What is the after sale service policy of your bank?
Waqar K Durrani: Our bank ensures that the customer is at the heart of the business; we try our level best to always be there for the customer. We are always open to complaints as well as suggestions from our customers. We have an extremely dedicated team for customer service and post sales services. Our offices are open from 9 am to 9 pm and we have call centers operating 24/7. Customers usually like to call the customer care department instead of driving to the branches because they feel it’s easier and more convenient.
We offer a priority service as well, which is for the high end customers, who have the Platinum or Infinite card, and even priority ATM card such as Priority Banking. We have a special team which is dedicated to providing fast service to our priority customers and cater to their needs only.
What kind of customer complaints do you commonly receive?
Waqar K Durrani: We try our level best to give customers the maximum support and service to resolve their complaints, mostly customers’ call for small issues to check their monthly outstanding amount and to verify their transactions worldwide. Since we offer Islamic banking, it has a fixed monthly fee, because there is no interest, in comparison to the conventional banking.
Customers end up not paying the monthly fee, which leads us having to fine them with a late fee charge. Majority of the late fee charges collected from customers is then given for charity by the bank. It is important for the bank that the customers pay the fee, since it will stop processes and payments in the middle if all customers stop paying the credit card fee.
We also face issues of customers not being able to access their cards when travelling because they get blocked. When customers travel out of the country without informing the bank, the bank ends up blocking their card when it is accessed in an unfamiliar area, to protect the customer against fraud and card theft. We request our customers to inform us through our customer care department about their travel plans, so the bank doesn’t block the card.
How do you approach customer complaints and feedback about your service?
Waqar K Durrani : Our customer service team is always motivated to help the customers and provide fast and easy solutions to the complaints they have. We have our customer experience team (CET) which focuses on fulfilling the requirements of the customers and logging their complaints and coming up with solutions for them. Customers can also log their comments and queries on the website, by filling in a form, and our team will get back to them as soon as possible.
Our goal is to retain our customers and make sure they are fully satisfied with our service; hence we listen to the customer and understand what they want. This helps us build lasting relationships and keeps them satisfied because at the end of the day, the customer is our priority.
With UAE being a Muslim country what future do you see for Islamic banking?
Waqar K Durrani: Islamic banking is definitely the future of UAE and is growing rapidly. The UAE market has further capacity of growth, and the next 5 years will see great profitability in Islamic banking and a larger customer base. We aim to continue providing Islamic banking in its most authentic form and not diverge towards other concepts. The factor of trust is huge when it comes to Islamic banking, and banks should not be changing their tracks, to benefit from it e.g copying conventional banking but to produce sharia’ based products to keep its values.
The government of UAE is also very supportive when it comes to Islamic Banking and encourages the growth.
What are the future plans of Emirates Islamic Bank about enhancing customer care and experience?
Waqar K Durrani: Emirates Islamic Bank is a customer centered bank that looks to provide its customers with quality service and superior customer experience. Our Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jamal Saeed Bin Ghalaita and our Deputy CEO Faisal Aqil are both very dynamic individuals who have a strong customer approach and develop products and future plans keeping the customer at the center. The CEO has created an environment in the bank that focuses on constantly improving the support offered to customers, as he believes, “The customer is your boss, he pays you the salary.”