The Chief Executive of Africa Investment Group, Dr. Samuel Ankrah, has prevailed on banks to constantly review their customer relations in all segments of their service.
“We have to constantly review our index of customer appreciation and satisfaction in all segments of our service to be able to reward ourselves with any accolades of excellence”, he said.
Speaking in an interview from London at the weekend, he said “Banking is a service industry and that requires that our interpretation of excellence should include a constant appreciation of the view that the customer may not always be right but the customer is always important; indeed very important”, he said.
Making reference to the Ghana Banking Awards which rewards excellence in the banking industry, he said in identifying and rewarding excellence in the banking industry, one of the cardinal measures should be the standards in customer relations management and practice.
He said also that, “The general definition of customer in our industry tends to be normally associated with individuals, enterprises, corporations and institutions”.
“Consequently, it appears that we have made standard practice of viewing our performance in growth and turnaround, and thus our excellence, mainly in terms of total deposits,” he said.
Customer service is an important but broad concept in the banking industry. In essence, banks are service-based businesses, so most of their activities involve elements of service.
While they do sell banking and financial products, there is often little tangible product variation among their offerings.
Customer service managers generally deal directly with service issues but several other common banking jobs involve service.
An often underappreciated element of a bank’s service is the level of friendliness and helpfulness offered by front line service employees. Tellers essentially serve as the “face” of the bank to regular customers. They’re the ones visitors typically interact with for routine checking and savings transactions.
Thus, service-oriented, helpful people in these roles greatly affects a bank’s customer-service performance and reputation.
Irrespective of the loud noise made by the banks in relation to their customer service, in real terms this is lagging.
Many people in the frontline, who are expected to relate well with their customers, tend to shy away from their responsibilities and are, therefore, intolerant and react with their body language.
It is a common sight to find customers queueing for their turns to withdraw cash while counters in the banking halls are abandoned.
Bank staff are also often seen loitering around, or attending to what they consider more important issues while the queues increase. Sometimes an attempt by a customer to demand service is considered as rude and in some instances instead of the managers on duty calling their staff to order, they sit aloof.
That attitude and practice, among others, is what Dr Ankrah described as ‘unfortunate’ and urged that it should cease.
For customers with more involving banking needs, personal bankers usually enter the picture. Bankers generally meet with customers interested in setting up new accounts or getting more information on banking products.
They also handle many of the issues or problems customers have, such as unexpected bank fees or transaction errors. Banks do often have customer service managers who step in to deal with the most significant customer-service concerns.
The loan or finance side of banks has its own customer service situations and processes.
Mortgage consultants, for instance, inform customers about new loan and refinance options and help with applications.
During and after the loan approval process, members of a bank’s loan division communicate with the customer about any paperwork requirements. They also update them on their loan status. Loan officers and service employees also answer loan payment and servicing questions from existing loan customers.