Room for improvement on banking customer service

PHOTO: Room for improvement on banking customer service

While Singapore customers are generally satisfied with banking services here, rates and customer service could be improved upon, according to a survey.

Of the 500 Singapore respondents in the Ernst & Young Consumer Banking Survey, a majority (92 per cent) are satisfied with their bank's service.

Eighty per cent are loyal to their main banking provider, having never switched to another.

However, this is no cause for complacency, as slightly more than half (52 per cent) use three or more banks, while only 15 per cent have one banking provider.

Customers using multiple banks do so primarily to mitigate the risks of bank failure and to ensure the best rates or fees for banking products.

Indeed, high fees and charges as well as poor interest rates on deposits were cited as two key factors behind the decisions of Singapore customers to change their banking providers.

The survey thus sheds light on how banks can promote greater customer loyalty and enhance customer satisfaction, especially with competition among banks in Singapore expected to heat up with the recently announced changes to the Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) programme.

This includes improving fees and charging structures, product services (such as online banking and mobile banking), as well as the customer experience.

According to Liew Nam Soon, Asia-Pacific and Singapore financial services advisory leader at Ernst & Young, foreign banks tend to be more aggressive in offering competitive deposit rates in the short term, compared with the more established local banks.

However, it is not just about the money, as service plays an equally crucial role in determining customer satisfaction.

Currently, only 23 per cent of Singapore customers receive frequent contact or personalised service, while 28 per cent receive no attention from their banks.

There is also some room for improvement for complaints management, with only 54 per cent of customers expressing their satisfaction in this area. Customers also expect better mobile banking services, call centre experiences, as well as access to branches.

Mr Liew noted that as there exists these potential gaps across various customer interaction touch-points, "banks need to consider how they can deliver a consistent and seamless customer experience across all channels".

This is especially so for the mobile channel which "needs to be integrated with other existing channels", he added.

Besides improving such existing channels, banks should also explore other means of connecting with customers, such as through social networking, Mr Liew said.

Indeed, with almost half (47 per cent) of Singapore customers using social networking sites to gain information on products and services by banks, some banks have launched marketing campaigns for certain products on sites such as Facebook.

Looking ahead, banks would do well to "pay even more attention to the customer's voice and shape their business around customer needs", said Mr Liew.