Speaking to CustomerService.ae in an exclusive interview, Mr. Vikram Krishna, Head of Group Marketing & Customer Experience at Emirates NBD talks about how the bank’s technological and digital innovations are playing a key role in transforming the customer experience, enabling quick and simplified account access with services available to the customers 24/7. He also talks about customer feedback mechanisms and how complaints are seen as an opportunity by the bank to improve service standards.
Since your launch in 2007, in terms of customer service, how has Emirates NBD successfully established itself amongst one of the leading banks in the Middle East region?
Vikram Krishna: Delivering an excellent customer experience is at the core of Emirates NBD’s customer proposition. Our deep commitment to providing customers a frictionless experience across all offerings is arguably our largest distinction.
Through technology innovation, we are able to offer customers banking solutions that are easy to use, secure and ‘on the go’ to match their needs and busy lifestyles. Today, over a third of our customer base are active users of our online banking and mobile banking platforms and we are seeing digital transactions growing at over 20%, outpacing branch transaction growth manifold. In response, we are constantly trying to innovate smarter ways for our customers to bank. Our mobile banking app has over 100 functionalities including mePay, the first peer-to-peer payment solution in UAE (since launch, 11% of Mobile Banking customers have registered to Emirates NBD mePay within 2 months).
What service elements do customers normally look for when it comes to opening a bank account with Emirates NBD?
Vikram Krishna: Customers are looking for a simple account opening process which allows them to start transactions at the earliest. Convenience is one big factor and we offer convenience to our customers through our large network of branches and automated channels, available 24 X7.
How long does it normally take to open an account?
Vikram Krishna: Customers can open most accounts at any of our branches and the account number is provided within minutes. Debit card and check book are available to customers within next two – three days.
Vikram Krishna: Simplicity and user friendliness are our top priorities when designing services through any of our channels.
Currently our services are available through a variety of automated channels like ATMs, CDMs, Mobile, Online and Call Centre and our customers can complete most of their transactions through any of the channels. The services are available round the clock and customers can transact on the move from any of these channels. We focus on innovation on our automated channels in order to maximize the services offered. A recent example includes launch of an innovative Interactive Teller Machine which allows you to complete most of the transactions without the need of visiting a branch. We are the first bank in the region to introduce this service and there are further plans to expand the network over the year.
Are you there for your customers after business hours, and how?
Vikram Krishna: There are multiple ways for customers to transact with us even after the closure of business hours at the branches (traditional way of banking). Our mobile banking is one of the fastest growing channel with innovative services being introduced on an ongoing basis. With high smartphone penetration in UAE, we see mobile banking becoming a core channel which will be used by our customers over the coming years.
How do you ensure that all customers receive the same standards of service throughout all branches?
Vikram Krishna: We invest heavily in training our people in order to ensure consistency of services delivered to our customers. We have clearly defined service values & standards and our team continuously strives to meet or exceed those standards.
What are your customer service training mechanisms?
Vikram Krishna: Training of our team members is an ongoing mechanism. Each of the new team members go through an extensive onboarding training before they start interacting with our customers. Current team members have a clearly defined training plan every year which is designed based on the need, role and responsibilities of the person. Training mechanisms vary from traditional class room training to on the job training and in recent times, E-modules play a big role in training our team members.
How are customer complaints handled?
Vikram Krishna:We view complaints as an opportunity for us to improve our processes and services. At Emirates NBD, each complaint is dealt with the objective of offering solutions to our customers. Customers can raise their issues to us through a variety of channels such as at the branches, Call Centre, Mobile, Online, Media, Social media, Central Bank and the solutions are offered to our customers on priority. We have a dedicated team which continuously monitors the issues raised through any of the channels and each complaint is thoroughly investigated in order to offer best solution to our customers. We are very transparent in our complaints handling process and customers are kept informed at each step of the process till the issue is resolved.
What research and feedback mechanisms do you have in place to measure customer satisfaction with the services that you provide?
Vikram Krishna: There are multiple ways to obtain feedback from our customers. We conduct research through an independent organization in order to obtain feedback. The feedback is reviewed and if required, we revise our processes and policies to make them more customer friendly. The research results help us benchmark our services and we have defined goals in order to continuously raise our service standards.
We also connect with our customers through a variety of customer connect programs. Each of these programs is an opportunity for us to interact with customers and hear from them what they think of our services and how we can continue to serve them better. In addition, in recent times social media is an important channel for us to receive feedback from our customers and we monitor every comment posted by customers on the social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Do you have multilingual service options available for customers who speak different languages?
Vikram Krishna: Most of our banking channels offer services in Arabic and English. We also customize some of the services based on some unique locations. An example is the availability of Chinese speaking staff and Chinese language on our automated services at our Dragon mart branch.
In your opinion, what is the importance of social media when it comes to customer queries and complaints?
Vikram Krishna: Social media is a critical channel for us to interact with our customers especially considering the reach and popularity of the platform. We expect customers’ use of social media to increase over coming years, making it an increasingly relevant channel in terms of customer service. Any query or complaint raised on social media is an opportunity for us to not only assist one customer, but it also helps us connect with multiple customers who may have a similar query or complaint.
We also use social media to educate customers about our products and services. We are the first bank in the region to launch a comprehensive Emirates NBD YouTube channel that provides over 50 simple short videos on how to bank. These videos range from using digital banking to general advice regarding dealing with financial products.
What are your customer support processes to facilitate online customers on your website?
Vikram Krishna: Customers can write back to us through secured mail box available through online banking account or generic mail box available through our website.
What innovative and smart technologies have you recently introduced and how are they playing a part in improving efficiency of service?
Vikram Krishna: Our recently launched DirectRemit solution enables customers to send money to India instantly via online, mobile and via selected ATMs, with zero charges. We have recently announced this service for the Philippines also and will soon introduce for other countries as well. Since launch in March this year 60% of our INR remittances now go through DirectRemit.
mePay is another example of a mobile innovation that addresses customer pain point. This mobile service allows customers to send money to other Emirates NBD customers by simply using the recipient’s mobile number. Since launch, 11% of our Mobile Banking customers have registered to Emirates NBD mePay (within 2 months)
Our Shake n’ Save product represents a new frontier of mobile-only products in the UAE. With this product, our customers can impulsively save and earn better interest rates.
With the introduction of Interactive Teller Machines, our customers can talk to a remote teller and transact without queuing at the branch, thus saving their time. You will see more ITMs launching in the coming months
In 2014, we launched IPO subscription via ATMs and online channels. This was the first in the region and was a huge success for us. Nearly 50% of subscriptions for the Emaar Malls IPO were generated through the ATM and online network.
The rate of success has been high.
Our Mobile Banking App is consistently ranked #1 in the Finance category in UAE App Store, with an average of 4/5 stars in customer satisfaction and over 400,000 downloads.
Over 1/3 of our active customer base uses mobile and online banking regularly. Since its launch in the beginning of 2013, 40% of our active online customer base is actively using our mobile banking services.
What new services and features does Emirates NBD plan to launch this year to enhance customer satisfaction levels?
Vikram Krishna: Digital channels are where we are focusing a lot of our new investments. We are not just investing heavily in frictionless interactive technologies that make our customers’ lives simpler, we are also investing in migrating customer behavior by sacrificing revenues on digital channels. We believe that this will pay off in the long term.
About Vikram Krishna
Vikram Krishna is the Head of Group Marketing and Customer Experience at Emirates NBD, with the mandate to further grow the bank’s dominant market position. Having successfully devised and implemented a 360º marketing strategy since 2010, Krishna has succeeded in developing Emirates NBD into the No. 1 banking brand in the UAE, with a brand value of USD 1.27 billion, in addition to making it one of the top 500 brands globally.
Recognized for having raised the standard of marketing in the region, Krishna was named ‘GMR Marketer of the Year’ at the 2013 Effies MENA awards. He is also credited with Emirates NBD’s dynamic presence in the social media space through the successful launch and management of the bank’s social media sites.
Krishna’s work continues to attract attention, and during his tenure as Head of Group Marketing, Emirates NBD has won several regional and international accolades, including recognition at Dubai Lynx, Effies MENA, Cannes and Midas, New York. Communicate magazine also listed Krishna in its Top 50 Power List for 2011 and 2012.
Prior to heading Group Marketing, Krishna was instrumental in the profitable turnaround of Emirates NBD’s Personal and Auto Loan business. He has also held the posts of Senior VP, Marketing-Retail Assets in HSBC, India, and VP & Head of Mortgages for North India in CitiFinancial. Krishna, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Statistics and an MBA in marketing, began his career with the advertising firm Lowe before moving to the banking industry.