Banks ‘must improve customer service’

22 April 2010

South Africa’s retail banks need to adopt a customer-centric approach to retain and grow their customer base, consultancy Accenture South Africa said on Wednesday.

According to Accenture’s latest survey, 37% of retail banking customers in South Africa have switched service providers over the past year due to poor customer service.

This was despite a broader service range offered by banks in an effort to retain and grow their customer base.

“The constant switching is a clear indication that customer service rates highly in the customer’s mind,” said Nikki Tyrer of Accenture’s customer relationship management division.

“Moreover, local banks offer the same financial products so customer service becomes the key differentiator which could give them the competitive advantage,” Tyrer said.

Word of mouth, social media

What was even more critical for the banks was the fact that customers who were unhappy about the levels of customer service tended to share their experiences with family and friends.

“They are also likely to use social media and other platforms to spread the word about the poor service they received.”

However, there was a bit of good news for local banks, as the results of the SA Consumer Confidence Index conducted during the first quarter of 2010 showed that confidence among retail banking consumers had improved from what it was towards the end of 2009.

“The results of the Confidence Index provide a great platform for banks; because if they can strike a balance between the broad range of services and exceptional customer service, then they will definitely see an improvement in their efforts to retain and grow their customer base,” Tyrer said.

Sapa