Ethos Consultancy has revealed the findings of its 7th Annual Bank Benchmarking Index for service excellence. This year's study indicates that eight of last year's top 10 are also in this year's top 10 positions overall out of the 23 banks in the research. Although there are some interesting changes at the top, overall the research does seem to suggest that many of the UAE's banks are still not focusing enough attention on customer service.BackgroundPrior to implementing this year's study, Ethos contacted all of the banks to request their input and requirements from the study and if necessary to recommend any amendments to the questions we have used for the past 6 years. From this feedback and from the work Ethos has delivered throughout the past 8 years, a decision was taken to focus the research on the aspects of service that have most impact as determined from the customer expectations research we have completed across the 3 delivery channels of Branches, Call Centre and website.Every year the retail banking study is carried out by trained and experienced researchers who focus on real scenarios a prospective customer would face when using either traditional channels i.e. visiting a branch or using alternative delivery channels such as the Call Centre or website. This year to determine the overall performance levels, the weighting was revised to reflect the growth in the use of alternative delivery channels based on a survey conducted in the retail banking sector. The customer experience is evaluated to determine whether the service delivery meets the five key variables of service provision (i.e. reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and a well equipped service environment).This year the focus of the research was on the key areas that customers "value the most" and that surrounds the processes and people aspect of service performance. The Ethos revolutionary concept Value Moments was used to determine the questionnaires and the weighting applied to each of the Value Moments questions thereby giving more focus on the really important elements of customer service as determined by UAE banking customers.The research was conducted during a 3 month window June - August 2011, during which time Ethos researchers made 460 branch visits, 276 call centre calls and 184 website interactions. Thereby totaling 920 research interactions, with each bank receiving 20 branch visits, 12 call centre calls and 8 website interactions, so in summary each bank was contacted a total of 40 times across their 3 core delivery channels. This year's study covered a total of 23 UAE retail banks, comprising 18 local and 5 International banks and focused on three geographical areas of operation, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.In total we covered 70 questions across each of the three channels; thereby each bank was assessed on their performance across 992 questions. Analysis of the research showed no discernable change in results during Ramadan.Overall performanceThe Bank with the highest performance overall was Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank capitalizing on last year's 3rd overall placing, Rakbank winners for the past 5 years slipped into 2nd position, Dubai Bank being 3rd and with Lloyds TSB winning the Top International Bank.Robert Keay, the Managing Director of Ethos commented, "Despite the economic position that continues to exist, some banks have been making investments in improving the level of service provision. This is demonstrated by major changes in ranking of the top 3.Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank for example, has moved from 18th ranking in 2009 to 3rd place in 2010, to being top bank in 2011. Dubai Bank has consolidated its overall performance albeit slipping to 3rd overall however their Call Centre performance was the best of all the banks, with Commercial Bank Dubai winning their first ever top spot delivering best performance from their Website service.However my over-riding concern is that the Index has improved because of the performance of less than 50% of the banks, whilst a number of the country's leading banks are not providing the level of service as those of their competitors and this will ultimately impact on their bottom line. This is most exemplified by the results of the Call Centre measurement, which (as last year) indicated that many of the country's leading banks still do not respond to customers within two working days of their enquiry, or even record incoming callers' details. This shortfall in the quality of service needs to be addressed especially as telephone banking is one of the most preferred channels for customers when dealing with their bank".Summary of Findings:VisitsAs an overall experience; 34% of the respondents were extremely satisfied, 46% were satisfied, and 12% were neither satisfied not dissatisfied, while 7% were dissatisfied, and 1% extremely dissatisfied.Call Centre Regarding the call centre; 28% of the respondents were extremely satisfied, 48% were satisfied, and 15% were neither satisfied not dissatisfied, however 8% were dissatisfied, and 1% extremely dissatisfied.Website Regarding the website; the overall experience was; 20% of the respondents were extremely satisfied, in addition to 22% were satisfied, while. 6% were neither satisfied not dissatisfied, however. 11% were dissatisfied, and 41% were extremely dissatisfied.
This year the Most Improved Bank category was awarded to Al Hilal Bank who jumped up to 12th overall ranking moving from their 18th ranking last year, in fact they had a top 10 position in Branch and Call Centre channels. (N.B. the award is given based on percentage increase in performance). Commercial Bank of Dubai also deserves a mention, they improved every delivery channel performance in 2010 and this year has become the best Website Performers.
The 2011 Award Winners for the Bank Benchmarking Index are:
Best Bank-Overall Performance: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Best Bank- Branch Performance: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Best Bank- Call Centre Performance: Dubai Bank
Best Bank- Website Performance: Commercial Bank Dubai
Best Islamic Bank: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Best international Bank: Lloyds TSB
Most improved Bank: Al Hilal Bank
Best Small Bank: Ajman Bank
Best Large Bank: EmiratesNBD
"Abu Dhabi Islamic BankAbu Dhabi Islamic Bank have without doubt got their act in order having been one of the worst performing banks 3 years ago, their rise to the top of the customer service Index is based upon a concerted focus on their customers, driven by improvements in their processes and delivered by trained and enthusiastic employees" with a clear vision for service excellence stated.