Customer experience improving at GCC banks

Published December 15th, 2015 - 10:44 GMT
Ethos Integrated Solutions researched 65 GCC banks through a six months' mystery shopping exercise. (Al Bawaba/File)
Ethos Integrated Solutions researched 65 GCC banks through a six months' mystery shopping exercise. (Al Bawaba/File)

Banks in the UAE have reported an 18 percentage point rise in improved customer experiences, over the last 10 years, according to the 2015 Retail Banking Customer Experience Benchmark Index developed by Ethos Integrated Solutions.

The Index recognised the efforts of 12 GCC banks out of a total of 65 following a six months' mystery shopping measurement exercise of branch experiences, website interactions and call centre responses with 40 contacts made with each bank across all three delivery channels. Of the 65 GCC banks studied, 22 were in the UAE, 10 were in Saudi Arabia, nine each in Bahrain and Qatar, eight in Kuwait, and seven in Oman. They were evaluated on reliability, assurance, responsiveness and empathy, in line with Ethos' 'Value Moments' customer experience criteria.

"In essence the Index reveals that banks in the GCC are getting better though the trend is not exactly uniform across the region," explained Robert Keay, founder and co-owner of Dubai-based Ethos Integrated Solutions.

The Index also named Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank as the 'Best Bank in the GCC' for the second year running, while identifying a continuous shift towards alternative delivery channels. "Today the overall online experience constitutes 15 per cent of the overall banking experience index, as compared to our initial weighting of five per cent," said Keay. "In 2015, customers regarded their branch experience as the highest out of the three engagement channels of the study, and the data suggests that banks should focus and prioritise enhancing their online channels and capabilities."

"The trend in the UAE over the past 11 years, since we started producing the Bank Benchmarking Index, is clearly positive and customer service performance has consistently shown improvement," Keay told Khaleej Times. "On the other side, customers have become more educated, more service oriented and in light of the intense competition in the UAE banking sector, they are only satisfied with the best service quality. Customers are now more empowered and more demanding, and the difference in performance from last year is minor but illustrative of this customer empowerment."

Other Index UAE winners included Mashreq Bank which won for 'Best Branch Experience'; Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank for 'Best Call Centre Experience'; Dubai Islamic Bank for 'Best Online Experience'; Ajman Bank for 'Most Improved Bank'; Commercial Bank International for 'Most Improved Branch Experience'; Standard Chartered Bank for 'Most Improved Call Centre Experience'; and Sharjah Islamic Bank for 'Most Improved Online Experience'.

In regional results, the National Bank of Kuwait was named the country's 'Overall Best Bank', while in Qatar the title went to QNB. In Oman the 'Best Bank' honour went to Bank Sohar; in Bahrain it went to HSBC Bahrain; and to Al Rajhi Bank for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"Looking at the last three years, the UAE has performed consistently with a difference of one or two per cent in the overall score. However, this being the second year of measuring the GCC performance, Kuwait and Qatar have shown measureable improvement. It is also fair to say that UAE has the most concentrated banking market in the GCC with the largest number of banks present amongst all GCC countries," Keay said.

RTA and Du reap honours at 2015 award

Over 16 UAE public and private organisations and three individuals, across various sectors, have been recognised at the Ethos 2015 Service Olympian Awards, which honour the country's top customer service leaders.

"There is an increasing focus on customer experience in both the public and private sector. This is not just a theoretical discussion, but they are taking actual measures to improve their customer experience delivery. Organisations are considering increasing their investments in customer experience delivery. They are implementing customer journey mapping initiatives and as a whole focusing more and more on the customer experience as a key success factor," said Robert Keay, founder and co-owner of Dubai-based Ethos Integrated Solutions.

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority took home the 'Best Contact Centre' and 'Best Employee Engagement' awards, while Du won the 'Best Customer Experience Measurement' and 'Best Customer Journey Maps' awards. Noor Bank won for 'Best Customer Communication', while NMC Healthcare won for 'Best Customer Education'. Paris Gallery scooped the 'Best Customer Loyalty Programme' award, while Dubai Airports won for 'Best Employee Learning Scheme'. RAKBank scored two awards for 'Best Mobile App' and 'Best Service Innovation', while Dubai Police was honoured for 'Best Social Media Experience.'

Hassan M. Makki of Dubai Municipality was honoured for 'Best Leadership Commitment', while Lamees Saleh of the RAK Free Trade Zone was honoured as the 'Best Customer Service Employee'. Sabrina Coutu, who is retired from RAKBank was honoured with the 'Distinguished Service Award For Contributing To Enhancing Customer Service in the UAE', with Emirates Airline taking the 'People's Choice Award', which was selected by public online voting.

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