By Fadi Hani
Brand View: There's a sure-fire way for Saudi banks to deliver sustained levels of growth, and that's by providing a superior customer experience, writes Fadi Hani, Vice President - Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Avaya
The need for Saudi banks to focus on providing stellar customer experiences was thrown into sharp relief this week, when it was announced that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) had received requests to open digital banks.
The Kingdom’s banking sector is under pressure from a number of sides. Admittedly, banks may post double-digit growth figures this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, but there are headwinds in the form of consumers hurt by higher interest rates, value-added tax and higher utility and fuel bills. Small wonder, then, that the sector is consolidating – SABB and Alawwal are merging, and there are talks of a merger between NCB and Riyad Bank.
Those mergers will make it easier for the new entities to succeed under the new realities of the Saudi banking sector. But there is another route to sustained growth in a period of economic uncertainty, and that’s by providing a superior customer experience.
Consumers in Saudi Arabia are demanding. According to the latest research conducted by Avaya, SuperServe: Five Strategies For Superior Customer Service, 84% of Saudi consumers say that convenience is more important than price – compared to the global average of 63% who said the same thing. And 80% of Saudi consumers expect an immediate response from the organizations they contact.
This research polled 8,000 consumers from nine countries, including Saudi Arabia, on their attitudes towards interacting with large organizations. The results reveal a distinct demand for super levels of service. Consumers want the companies they do business with to be ‘SuperServe’ companies.
And this applies especially to Saudi banks. According to the report, the majority of Saudi consumers would like any problem they have to be resolved on the first call – in fact, 66% say this is one of the most important considerations when interacting with their banks. And 70% would like the same level of experience regardless of the channel they use to contact their bank.
Saudi consumers also want human interactions from their banks – just 16% want all their services to be automated so that they don’t have to talk to anyone from the bank. And even fewer (13%) say they don’t want to talk to a customer service agent. The results are even more conclusive when you consider that all-important Millennial generation. Over 90% of Saudi consumers aged 18 to 34 want the option of being able to speak to someone at their bank.
What can Saudi banks take from this? Well, it certainly shouldn’t mean a halt to their digital transformation strategies. Rather, it should result in a drive to enhance the human elements of customer experience through digital transformation. Saudi consumers want to be able to contact their banks through a channel of their choosing, and they want the experience to be awesome (and human) every time.
At Avaya, it’s exactly these business challenges that we’re enabling banks around the world to overcome – whether they’re digital-only or born before the dawn of the Internet. In Taiwan, for example, we’ve helped O-Bank to become the country’s first all-digital, online-only bank. And in the UAE, we’ve partnered with the leading banks to deliver best-in-class chatbot experiences.
In Saudi Arabia, we’re working with the Kingdom’s leading financial institutions to help them deliver experiences that matter. After all, that it is our tagline - and it applies especially to our banking customers.
The Kingdom’s banking sector should grow healthily in 2019 – there’s no doubt about that. But looking to 2020 and beyond, Saudi banks may find that the best defence against a tough market is by providing a stellar customer experience.
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