Banks among most customer-friendly entities but must keep getting better

Banks among most customer-friendly entities but must keep getting better
Banks among most customer-friendly entities but must keep getting better

Africa-PressRwanda. Watchers of the Service Excellence Awards set for October 8 in Kigali must be looking forward to knowing who the nominees will be and who will emerge the winner. This year the awards “focus on customer satisfaction, innovation and striving for perfection to the service providers.”

As voting to determine a winner winds down, my thoughts wandered to the banking sector hoping it bags awards at least in some of the 65 categories said to be up for grabs. The industry must be among the most patronised by consistently large customer numbers for the essential service banks provide.

The number of banks in the country bears this out. Without counting microfinance institutions, there are about 16 commercial banks in Rwanda. And the profits some of the major ones keep posting attest to a fairly adequate market to thrive in.

The good turnovers are well earned. It is also by design. The banks are among the most innovative. They are among the first to adopt each new technology, seeking to make customer experience the best it can possibly be. But it is also about competition. It makes businesses up their game, which is the raison d’etre for excellence awards.

Competion also suggests that even the best institution is not perfect. It is in the nature of any business must contend with flaws, some inadvertent, other by commission or ommision. This means that all things considered, the winner is judged to have an edge over competitors despite the victor’s shortcomings.

Take a bank, for example. A customer with its app in the phone can transact or interact with her bank from anywhere in the world. But an app can only go so far. There are situations that will force a customer to enter a brick-and-mortar branch of the bank.

Let’s say the customer is on an extended stay in the diaspora and her visa debit card, which she uses in the foreign country to transact, gets lost or expires.

The card must be renewed. That’s where the problems begin. With some banks, she will have to wait until she is back in Kigali to have the debit card renewed. Never mind that her bank has a branch in the capital city across the border where she is on an extended stay.

The assumption would be that with the conveniences technology affords, including ensuring security of client-bank interactions, the bank would be able to facilitate the card renewal from the branch in the neighbouring country.

Not so, it turns out. It has to be renewed when she is back in the home country leaving the customer in the lurch. Perhaps there’s a good reason renewal of the card has to be in the home country. But it also remains true that many banks have multiple steps that fail to add value and slow down customer service.

I can relate a recent incident where customer service employees at a front desk proved so unhelpful, leaving one to wonder whether it was inadequate information at their fingertips or procedures and regulations that they seemed so unable to resolve what seemed to me a routine issue.

Now, I have no problem with my bank. It still ranks among the best. But, as an industry commentator has remarked, superior customer experience isn’t always about exceeding customer expectations.

Sometimes the most memorable experiences come from delivering on promises and demonstrating genuine concern for client needs. Or you could lose a customer—a customer whose nay vote could more than ruin your chances in service awards.

An unhappy customer begets another. This means it is not merely jingoistic to say that one dissatisfied customer cancels out the positive impact of countless happy customers.

That said, an observation about the October Service Excellence Awards: This being the sixth edition, it would have been helpful to know the previous winners from the organisers’ website, and what entailed the 65 categories up for the vote.


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