Monthly Archives: May 2011

Banks Require Focus on Service

Yes you heard it right, cold calling is officially out for banks. Central Bank has passed a law prohibiting banks from contacting potential customers by phone to solicit business for various products such as credit options and loan facilities. What is a relief for many of us may not be the same sentiment the banks share with us.

One of their most lucrative and developed channels of business development has been put to a halt. The databases that have been created with prospect contact details are of little value. In addition to the new law, all the banks operating in the Middle East must to adhere to standardized rates. As a result, banks will be required to come up with another way of setting themselves apart from their competitors which means a new approach to their marketing investments and strategies. So, what’s next for banks in the region?

Banks now have to focus on a key initiative that could very well act as the ultimate differentiator in the Middle East market; Customer Service. The relationship between banks and their customers will need to improve to a level whereby “every” customer feels valued regardless of their income, nationality or gender. Banks now need to maximize and seek revenue from existing customers by offering additional services and products which translates into customer loyalty.

A recent study conducted by Ethos Consultancy called the Mini Bank Benchmark Index (the main Benchmark Index is due to come out in October) highlighted that there is still room for improvement in the way of customer service as it relates to cross selling and reaching out to customers when they make enquiries via Websites and Call Centers. Our study brings to light that sales opportunities may be missed due to a lack of cross selling and informing potential customers about additional services and products when they make enquiries online or via Call Centers. If contact can no longer be made by cold calling, Agents must take advantage of this opportunity to interact with prospective customers.

The main objective of the study was to highlight the differences in service performance of various banks and provide insights on how prepared the banks are for this new wave of marketing and selling. The study was conducted over a two and half week period. The study measured two delivery channels for banks; Call Centers and Websites and involved 220 contacts through these 2 channels. The key components that were measured in the index were call answering, product knowledge, performance, information provision, turnaround times for contact and follow up.

The study shed light on the differences in service delivered with the top bank scoring 89.16% for overall performance whilst the lowest scoring bank came in at 34.15% for Call Centers. As for website performance, the highest scoring bank scored 90.61% and the lowest scoring bank stood at 27.35%. This only further emphasizes the gap in service delivery amongst banks in the UAE.

The results uncovered were rather interesting with Call Centers scoring an average percentage of 69.85% with regards to the service delivered.  56% of those whose details were taken by the Call Centre Agents were called back by the respective banks. The remaining either did not receive a call back as promised or their contact details were not taken. Of those who received a call back, 15% were offered other products and services.

Websites scored an average percentage of 63.08% for service delivered. It was a fairly positive picture with ‘Website Standards’ & ‘Submitting Enquiry’ scoring over 90%. This indicates that the information provided and ease of use when browsing or submitting enquiries was successful, however during the final phase of the enquiry process, 54% of the Researchers received a call after submitting an inquiry and 23% were offered additional products or services.

Although these figures have painted a picture of where things stand, what could be said about what’s to come?

Robert Keay, Managing Director for Ethos Consultancy says;

“The value of customer retention and the loyalty spend that comes along with this, has to become an integral part of every banks offering. Customers are currently changing their banks on a regular basis and this will continue until such times as the banks realise that customer service is a game changer”.

In the end one thing can be said; Customer service will define the image of a bank and the competitive position it holds in this part of the world. The need for training on sales conversions and identifying opportunities from inquiries will be vital in turning a profit for banks in the coming months.

Download the report on the Mini Bank Benchmarking Index.