Industry Research : Abu Dhabi Banks Lead in Customer Service
Abu Dhabi-based banks have emerged as the frontrunners in this year’s bank benchmark study conducted by Ethos Consultancy.
The annual study is carried out by a team of researchers who focus on real scenarios a prospective customer would face when using the three delivery channels: branch network, call centre and website.
This year’s study saw bank Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank retain its top slot as the Best Overall Bank as well as the one with the Best Overall Website among 23 local and international banks that were evaluated on various parameters. In addition, National Bank of Abu Dhabi was rated as the bank with the Best Overall Branch while Abu Dhabi Commercial bank was named as the Most Improved Bank.
According to a media statement by Ethos, 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).
Last year, the 8th Annual Banking Benchmarking Index for 2012 results suggested that banks in the country still need to work on their customer service performance. "Overall, the research does seem to suggest that many of the UAE’s banks are still not focusing enough attention on customer service," the company said in its benchmarking report.
On the same lines as last year, the focus of the research this year was on the key areas that customers "value the most" and that surround the processes and people aspect of service performance this year.
This year’s study indicates that 6 of last year’s top 10 are also in this year’s top 10 positions overall out of the 23 banks in the research.
The research was conducted during a 3 month period, May to July 2013. During this period, Ethos researchers made 460 branch visits, 276 call centre calls and 184 website interactions. This year’s study covered a total of 23 UAE retail banks, comprising of 19 local and 4 international banks and was focused on three geographical areas of operation, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Robert Keay, the Managing Director of Ethos Consultancy, said: "Despite the economic conditions that continue 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 and has managed to hold their spot of being the top bank in 2013. Dubai Islamic Bank has consolidated its overall performance although moved to the 4th spot overall and their call center performance was the best, with NBAD winning the best branch performance of the year".
With the recent changes in the banking environment, there are several challenges bound to present themselves. The UAE banking industry is in transition, driven by changing customer attitudes, the rapid development of online services and ever increasing competition. Consumer expectations have outpaced most companies' ability to make meaningful connections across multiple touch-points. Banks’ customer service must perform at the highest levels so as to create sustainable value for their customers.
The Annual UAE Bank Benchmarking Index has pointed a gap in customer service in the banking industry. The Index aims at providing the retail banking industry with a methodology of benchmarking their products and services against the competition to drive continual improvement.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, September 2, 2013