New Citi branch banking on service

PHOTO: New Citi branch banking on service

Walk into the newest Citibank branch and you are unlikely to find snaking queues of customers, thanks to a new system.

At peak hours, the full-service branch at Woodlands MRT station - Citibank's first in the north - will inform clients via mobile phone when it is their turn to be served. This allows customers to go and do other things instead of wasting their time queuing.

The Woodlands branch, which became operational on Sept 30, is working hard to put customers' needs first. As part of this drive, customers will be served by a staff member the moment they enter till the end of the transaction.

Customers tended to be dealt with by several staff, such as the bank teller or the greeter.

Citibank Singapore chief executive Han Kwee Juan said yesterday that the one-on-one service allows for better interaction with the client.

The concept may be rolled out at other branches. The Woodlands branch is just 1,700 sq ft in size, 60 per cent that of a normal full-service branch, thanks to improvements in technology that will automate the acceptance of cash, including coins.

Staff can share cash teller machines, reducing the space needed for cash teller counters. Banks set aside much of their floor area for the counters, with each employee assigned to one machine for ease of reconciling of transaction numbers at shift's end.

Mr Han said it cost "a six-figure range" to construct the Woodlands branch. He added that the design may be replicated for other branches, depending on customers' needs in that area.

Citibank Singapore now has 23 branches, with eight set up within SMRT stations.

Since its partnership with SMRT in 2006, it has seen a 40 per cent increase in its customer base, while the number of ATM transactions at SMRT branches has also grown by 40 per cent.

Mr Han declined to reveal specific expansion plans for the bank and where other branches may be set up, but said much depends on the concentration of where people work, live and play.

But one region that could be in the running is the vast area spanning Pasir Ris and Sembawang.

"If you look at the north-east, it looks interesting. That's something that, clearly when we look at branches that we have, is a spot that we don't have a presence in," said Mr Han.

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