Two-thirds of UAE residents want ‘better banking’ standards, says survey

Nearly 34 per cent of UAE respondents would recommend their bank as a first choice to friends or colleagues. In Saudi Arabia, the number is only slightly higher at 38 per cent, said a survey by Souqalmal.com.

The NPS Survey evaluates various aspects of the overall banking experience. The parameters covered include customer service, product offering and financial education. The results of the survey have been used to conceptualize the inaugural Souqalmal Bank Satisfaction Index.

When asked about areas of improvement, 36 per cent of respondents in the UAE and 32 per cent of respondents in KSA pointed out better customer service as the main area when dealing with their banks.

Founder and CEO of Souqalmal.com Ambareen Musa believes the situation isn’t all grim and it is noteworthy that overall bank satisfaction index at 34 per cent is still visibly on the rise from 27 per cent in 2014 and 15 per cent in 2013 in the UAE.

In her opinion, these in-depth statistics need to be analyzed and seen as impetus for further movement in the right direction.

“The need of the hour seems to be a seamless experience across all channels and customer touchpoints - branches, ATMs, call centers, online banking and mobile banking. It is, therefore, essential for banks to understand what is important to their customers and what drives their satisfaction and loyalty,” she said.

The in-depth indicators point at the need for better branch experience, clearer product information from call center executives and faster complaint resolution. All of these features being the most common service-related concerns voiced by bank customers.

“Banks need to take a closer look at their CRM processes, because only a happy customer is likely to stick around and recommend their bank to others,” recommends Musa.

Going deeper into the findings the numbers indicate that 25 per cent of customers in the UAE and 22 per cent of customers in KSA would like to see better and more custom product offering from their bank.

“Banks are moving away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ product strategy, with newer products and promotions being introduced, targeted at specific customer segments. For example, fitness app-linked accounts for the fitness enthusiast, credit cards for frequent travelers, shoppers or parents, loans for new residents, to name a few. These are all positive steps in the right direction,” she said.

The call seems to be for a greater focus by banks on sophisticated customersegmentation, smarter product-bundling, along with cross-selling and up-selling based on comprehensive customer insights.

As per UAE Central Bank data, there are a total of over 960 bank branches and 5,100 ATMs in the UAE (as of December 2015). However, according to many UAE respondents, that’s not enough. Over 12 per cent of survey respondents would like to see a wider branch network, and many others also want better ATM coverage in the  UAE.

The number is even higher in KSA at 17 per cent.

More transparent and competitive rates on loans, more efficient online channels and  better phone banking assistance are just some of the other areas where respondents would like to see improvements.

“These findings indicate that customer expectations are outpacing the induction of improvements and innovations from technology. Banks, therefore, need to realize that their success will not just be driven by adding more bells and whistles, but by balancing functionality with ease of use and then clearly communicating features and benefits to customers,” Musa added.

“At Souqalmal.com we have always endeavored to understand specific customer needs and the results of our Bank Satisfaction Index are a great tool to provide feedback to our partner banks. With 750,000 visits a month, we are able to get very good insights of what customers are after,” she concluded.

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