Latest weekly poll results released by NOI Polls have revealed that the majority of banking Nigerians (61%) agree that Nigerian Banks are exploiting their customers through hidden bank charges. In addition, First Bank was judged to have the best customer service delivery closely followed by GT Bank. These were the two key findings from the Bank Customer Service Snap poll done in the week of March 11th 2013.
A conversation has grown amongst the banking public on poor service delivery and unexplained charges by Banks on transactions. This conversation has been largely centred on a reviving global banking economy and continued crisis in the European Region and its immediate impact on Banks in Nigeria. The need to grow profits is seen as a trade-off for quality customer relationship and service delivery. As the banking industry has gone from about 85 banks to 25 banks to 22 banks over the last decade, there is an increased pressure to stay relevant and profitable in a closely regulated industry. This pressure has continued to cause a decline in satisfaction levels with several customer engagement platforms specifically with the old fashioned ‘customer service desk.’ The Customer has become more intelligent on the range of services this function should cover and so have raised the bar of expectations for Banks.
It is against this backdrop that NOI Polls sought the opinions of banking customers on customer relations and service delivery of Nigerian Banks over the last Quarter. It is our hope that the results from this poll will guide Banking executives and relevant Corporate/Customer service champions to re orientate the industry on quality service delivery and sustained customer relationship, after all the ‘customer is king.’
The NOI Polls survey asked respondents five specific questions. The first question sought to establish the perceptions of Nigerians about the bank that had the best customer service. Respondents were asked: Which Nigerian bank has the best customer service? It is also pertinent to note that respondents were informed that the bank selected did not have to be their personal bank.
Overall, by a slim margin the majority (29%) stated that First Bank has the best customer service followed by GT Bank with 26%. These 2 banks are perceived to be the best banks by a considerable distance. They are followed by Zenith Bank (9%), UBA (8%), Eco Bank (7%) and Access Bank (6%).
Analyzing results in more detail highlights some interesting facts. First Bank is mainly strong in terms of customer service in the South East (37%) and South South (35%) while GT Bank is particularly strong in the South West (35%). Zenith Bank is second to First Bank in the South East with 16% while UBA is second to First Bank in the North West with 21%. Analysis according to gender shows more female (31%) rooting for First Bank over GT Bank (23%) whilst there is only a difference of 1% for the males.
Respondents were subsequently asked: Why do you think the bank mentioned has the best customer service? Overall, the majority of respondents (35%) chose the Bank mentioned because the “Staff are friendly and helpful”. This is followed by 22% with the explanation that “Staff are knowledgeable and efficient” and 13% each mentioned “Staff are good at settling complaints” and “Staff are patient with customers”.
In order to analyze responses in more depth, responses from the question “Which Nigerian bank has the best customer service?” were cross tabulated with the second question “Why do you think the bank mentioned has the best customer service?” This was done to highlight the performance of each bank on the specific reasons mentioned. In terms of customer service, First Bank outperforms all Banks under the “Quality service delivery” measure gathering a majority of 61%. It also performs best in “Staff are patient with customers” (31%) and “Staff are knowledgeable and efficient”(30%). GT Bank customer service staff performed best in terms of “Staff are good at settling complaints” (31%) and “Staff are patient with customers” (28%).
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) had received a large number of complaints from bank customers over alleged hidden and unexplained charges. In March 2010, CPC organized a consumer interactive forum where the CBN Governor directed banks to disclose fully all rates and charges associated with their products and services with a view to stemming all forms of sharp practice.
To provide a better outlook on this experience and if any change has occurred over the last 3 years, the respondents were asked the following question: To what extent do you agree or disagree that Nigerian banks are exploiting their customers through hidden bank charges? The majority (50%) agree that Banks are exploiting their customers through hidden charges. This is followed by 19% of the respondents that disagree and 16% that neither agree nor disagree with this statement. 11% strongly agree that bank customers are being exploited while a meager 4% strongly disagree. Overall, the majority (61%) agree that customers are being exploited by banks through the ‘hidden’ charges.
Finally, respondents were asked: What suggestions do you have to improve the quality of customer service? The majority (30%) suggested “treating customers with respect”. This is followed closely by respondents who mentioned “building stronger relationships with customers” then 21% who suggested “resolving complaints quickly” and 11% with “going the extra mile”.
In conclusion, results indicate that the majority of Nigerians think that First Bank followed by GT Bank have the most outstanding customer service delivery by a considerable margin. First Bank is strongest mainly because of its Quality service delivery and the fact that staff is patient, knowledgeable and efficient. GT Bank is strong mostly because their staff is good at settling complaints and their products are easy to use. The overwhelming majority of respondents agree that Nigerian Banks are exploiting their customers through hidden charges. The most popular suggestions for improving customer service are treating customers with respect, building stronger relationships and resolving complaints quickly.