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Who is to blame for the hatred of banks in the UAE?
Everyone loves to hate banks in the UAE—but what is at the root of the country-wide hatred for customer service?
December 6, 2012 4:22 by Eva Fernandes
Say what you will about the residents of the UAE being a cultureless fragmented society with little in common, but the one topic that never fails to inspire heart-felt camaraderie is hatred for the banking system. To say UAE residents love to hate the customer support provided by both international and local banks-is an underestimation. In fact, an article published almost two years ago on Kipp chastising a particular bank, still gets comments from upset customers.
Though the office water cooler used to be the preferred platform for venting, in the recent years social media have provided embittered customers a more comprehensive arena to rant. And while it isn’t rare to see Twitter splattered with bouts of #ihateUAEbanks every now and then, there has been little to no response from the banks themselves. Which is why, a round table including representatives from the banking industry organised by Souqalmal.com proved to be a very interesting discussion.
Interestingly only two representatives from the banking world turned up. Frans Jan Burkens, Head of Customer Banking at Commerical Bank of Dubai and Sadia Noori, Brand Experience Manager from Mashreq bank provided insightful commentary to a room full of disillusioned UAE bank veterans including UAE blogger Alex McNabb and Mo Elzubeir, Managing Director of Mediastow.
Despite the massive chip on either party’s shoulders, the conversation that followed was civil and extremely thought provoking. Kipp for one, got to thinking about the source of this old animosity. Where does the frustration with UAE banks come from? Who is to take responsibility for the disillusionment and what is the best way forward. Here are some of the propositions brought forward through the discussion-let us know what you think.
-Customer Service representatives are not empowered: You can scream all you want until you are blue in the face, but if the customer service representative at the other end of the line is powerless to take the necessary actions required to resolve your issue there will be no progress. Without empowering the customer service representatives to take independent steps or to deter from their prescribed scripts, there is little support s/he will be able to provide a customer.
-Diversity and multiculturalism is a barrier: This one is a bit of a cliché, but does the ‘melting pot/salad bowl’ status of the UAE make it difficult for banks to provide a service which will cater to all? Are genuine attempts at problem-solving getting lost in translation? Are UAE banks stretching themselves too thin in an attempt to cater to their varied customers from the UAE, Philippines, India, Lebanon, Egypt, etc?
-Help me to help you? Do you customers need an attitude makeover? Do customers approach call centers with an attitude of weariness that gets in the way of quick and effective problem solving? Do UAE bank customers need to develop better understanding and empathy when dealing with bankers?
-Processes in place not equipped to handle: Are the processes in place out of date? Are there limitations in the systems preventing reps to accurately and quickly help clients? Do banks need a structural overhaul?
-You get what you pay for: Complaints heard by the masses aren’t likely to be shared by the Premium Premier Superduper Gold customer who gets everything but a complimentary cocktail when they approach their bank. Is this skewed perception of who deserves good competent service the reason why banks are unable to provide the everyday account holder with the stellar service their richer counterparts receive? And by that extension would it be a practical idea to offer customers a better support system for an additional charge?
-Inadequate customer service reps: Do customer service representatives lack the sophistication and competence of the customers they are trying to serve. If they say ‘you get what you pay for’ is it not surprising that the minimum wage rep is unable to provide their customers with adequate responses?
So what do you think? Who should bear the brunt of the blame and what is the best way forward?