53% of UAE bank customers 'want to switch' - poll

New survey reveals more than half mull move away from bank after poor customer service
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Andy Sambidge
Tue 21 May 2013 11:02 AM

More than half of the UAE population want to switch to a better bank after suffering poor customer service, a new study revealed on Tuesday.

The survey, carried out by iProspect and Arabian Business and announced at the AB Forum, cited poor customer service and high transaction fees as key reasons for consumers wanting to make the switch.

However the study also showed that complicated administration prevented many customers from making any change.

It added that 53 percent of customers have considered switching bank but 36 percent say they have not switched due to a lengthy paperwork process.

Another 24 percent of those interviewed said they believed there is no better option among UAE banks.

The study showed 48 percent of banking consumers quoted poor customer service and high transaction fees as the main catalysts that will make them switch banks.

Forty percent of the respondents said they think that the banking charges they are charged with are quite fair.

The research also highlighted that in UAE retail banking there is a distinct disparity between what is promised and what is delivered, both in terms of online banking and customer service.

The survey, which was conducted among 456 respondents, also considered how customers in the UAE react to a bank advertising in today’s digital environment.

Fifteen percent of customers claimed that they had purchased a financial product as a result of advertising but 33 percent of customers said that banks are continuing to cold call their mobiles despite requests to be taken off the data list.

Conversely, 61 percent of customers said they would be willing to impart with more personal data should the communications be relevant.

Internet and mobile banking is also in growing demand, according to the research, and while the majority of customers prefer ATMs for day-to-day banking, nearly 20 percent of customers want to bank via their mobile, more than those who still prefer to visit the local branch.

Speaking specifically about the customer service in the banking sector, Fredrik Schauman, managing director of iProspect, Middle East and North Africa at Aegis Media MENA, said:  “There is a massive inconsistency in the online marketing promise versus the delivery of the marketed service.

"I feel with the right approach in place client expectation and satisfaction can be ‘controlled’ to a large extent. Dissatisfaction comes from the potential customer’s unrealistic expectations or from promises that are not delivered on. If banks gave improbable marketing promises that were followed up with poor service delivery, then as the study suggests, consumers will look to move on.”    

Anil Bhoyrul, editor of Arabian Business, added: “The study proves the use of mobile financial services is seen to be prevalent amongst respondents. But while the use of mobile banking in UAE has increased over the years, the report indicates that many consumers remain doubtful of the benefit of mobile banking and the level of security associated with the technology, a trend we have often reported upon but one that is not being addressed.”

The survey also touched on another trend that is frequently discussed, namely blank cheques. Despite recent calls for the UAE to modernise its banking and cease asking for blank cheques to cover auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, 56 percent of customers said they are still being requested to write post-dated cheques.

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