To succeed in today’s banking environment, bank executives need to understand their customers: their preferences, their channel usage, their needs and their satisfaction.
Much has changed across Africa’s banking industry in the past three years. In 2013, when we published our first edition of the Africa Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey, our report found that retail customers were most concerned about the financial stability of their banks. Fast forward to 2016 and the rules of the game have changed.
Customers are still concerned about financial stability; but what they primarily want from their banks is enhanced high-quality service, more innovation and greater convenience.
Some of the reasons for this shift are obvious. Regu-lators across the continent have been highly focused on building up the stability of their banks with higher capital ratio requirements, tighter lending requirements and more stringent regulatory requirements. In some cases, this has led to consolidation as smaller, less capital efficient banks are squeezed out of the market.
In many other cases, it has raised customer and investor confidence as the banking sector regains strength. At the same time, other regulatory and policy reforms – this time focused on improving financial inclusion as a way to drive economic growth and development – have driven higher levels of competition across many markets.
Regional players have continued to expand their footprints across Africa, emboldened by more liberalized market
regulation and the growing maturity of regional trade and economic blocs.
New entrants and non-traditional players are gaining a foothold in many markets, further intensifying
competition and creating disruption. At the same time, however, these new players have also widened financial
literacy amongst Africans and – in many cases – heightened expectations of how traditional banks
With more competition and fewer concerns about the stability of their banks, Africa’s banking customers have naturally started to differentiate their banks based on their experience when interacting with their banks.
The problem is that ‘customer satisfaction’ is not a single lever or discreet project that banking executives
can simply invest into, activate or install. Rather it is a complex web of facets and perceptions, all of which
combine to create the customer experience. There are dozens of potential levers and thousands of combinations
that can be pulled, and no two banks will pull them in the same way.
Our survey demonstrates that branches continue to be most preferred channel for Africa’s banking customers. But our data also suggests that use of alternative delivery channels is on the rise in most African markets. As more options become avai lable, our survey shows that customers are increasingly shifting their preferences towards these channels. This report also suggests that efforts by Africa’s banks to improve customer service have started to pay off with the majority of customers now saying service has improved. Half are happy enough to recommend their bank to others. However, the data also shines a spotlight on some key areas for improvement for Africa’s banks, particularly given the rising levels of competition in most markets. Based on our data, this report provides a number of clear suggestions for Africa’s banking executives:
• Improve the quality of interactions between employees and customers Ninety-one percent say that staff’s attitude and their knowledge of products is important and almost 83 percent say they are satisfi ed with these measures. However, while customers believe that prompt responses to their complaints are equally important, just 77 percent are satisfi ed with their banks in this regard. • Increase the focus on delivering fast, accurate and timely transactions Eighty-nine percent say that the timeliness of transaction processing is important to their satisfaction, but just 33 percent are currently satisfi ed with this measure. Similarly, 90 percent say that receiving accurate and complete information from banks is important but just 34 percent are satisfi ed with the information they receive.