By Gavin Davids
Lenders losing customers because of ongoing service failures, says E&Y survey
Gulf banks are still failing to hit the mark on client service with more than a third of customers saying they plan to, or have recently, switched banks.
The poll of 4,000 Gulf residents by Ernst & Young showed 47 percent found transactions long and tedious, with only seven percent saying their bank paid personal attention to them.
By comparison, 52 percent of customers in Asia said their bank offered tailored services.
As a result, just 19 percent of Gulf respondents had banked with the same provider for ten years or more, the poll showed, while more than half split their interests across more than one bank.
Salmaan Jaffery, head of retail banking, Ernst & Young Middle East, said the results revealed an opportunity for banks to gain market share by bolstering their customer service offerings.
“The core to bring back returns-on-equities (ROE) up to pre-crisis levels is going to be based on improving operational efficiency and delivery,” he told Arabian Business.
“From a customer agenda standpoint, selling more to existing customers, keeping them from leaving, not having to spend as much money on getting in new customers who are going to leave, all these kinds of things are going to help.”
The lack of personal service has accelerated the uptake of mobile banking solutions with 92 percent of respondents saying the ATM was their most frequent banking channel.
More than half – 57 percent – use mobile banking of some kind, a response rate nearly four times higher than that seen in Europe, the survey showed.
“In the GCC, and this is very unique to this region, rather than customers saying the usual generic stuff about quality and price, they’re actually consistently asking for transaction speed,” Jaffery said.
“Secondly, customers are looking for specific service quality and they’re looking to avoid specific service failures. If you’re not getting customers’ products in a consistently quick manner and on time, then that’s creating an issue.”
Lenders also need to improve their loyalty offerings, the survey showed.
Some 67 percent of those polled wanted better rewards from their banks, compared to 54 percent of those in Europe.
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