13 September 2017

Nigeria: Raising the Bar On Customer Experience

Nosa Alekhuogie writes that only organisations that accord the highest priorities to quality management systems can create excellence, stay ahead of the competition and earn the trust and confidence of customers, which in turn translates to client retention and long-term viability

In this era of increased focus on customer centricity across different economic sectors in Nigeria, especially the product and service industries, creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale or service and post-sale could not be more critical. This is doubly so given recent developments in customer/consumer awareness buoyed by stiff competition and availability of choice, particularly for a sector like banking.

A customer-centric approach can add value to how a bank's customer perceives it simply because it enables that bank differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.

The homogeneity of banking products and high volatility of consumer behavior underscore the importance of constantly innovating and raising the bar on customer service, satisfaction and experience, a mission critical for any Nigerian bank that wants to remain profitable in business, attract and acquire customers and retaining their loyalty.

For instance, a cold reception, a rude teller, an avoidable long wait on a queue, failed transaction, wrongful debit, delayed credit, erroneous denial of a banking transaction, or even a prolonged system downtime of its digital banking platforms are just a few reasons any loyal bank customer can easily walk away to try another bank and become another statistics of aggrieved and unsatisfied former customers.

There are 22 commercial banks all jostling for the attention and patronage of the populace and offering all sorts of value propositions. Not to mention the microfinance banks (MFB), mortgage banks and other financial services organisations, including those operating in the unregulated and unstructured informal sector.

So in the long run, what will set 'bank A' apart from 'bank B' and of course the rest of the pack would most likely be its commitment to making the customer king, in other words, excellent customer experience.

Customer Experience

In pursuit of this objective, Stanbic IBTC Bank has shown consistently that it is determined to make progress real for its customers in line with its brand promise of helping them move forward. It is therefore fitting to say that the bank, in spite of its laudable stability, has refused to rest on its oars.

The bank went one step further in its pursuit of service excellence when it opened up its systems and processes to international standardization audits, which enables many world-class organizations around the globe constantly question and develop their quality management systems and processes. Which begs the question why Stanbic IBTC Bank, with a Triple A, F1+ Fitch ratings, the highest possible rating for any bank in Nigeria, a rating it has gotten consistently in the last two years, sees a need for quality systems and management certification? Well, following this audit and passing of a clean bill of health, Stanbic IBTC was awarded the ISO 9001:2015 Certification, a highly regarded quality management system certification globally.

The certification, amongst its many benefits, will enable the bank to serve its customers at the right level of quality and ensure zero variability in the delivery of service across the various digital and non-digital touch points, all of which enhances customer banking experience and relationship with the bank.

Since management systems play a key role in organisational process, Stanbic IBTC Bank's clear focus on continuous organisational improvement, alignment, capacity for execution and ability to renew, adapt, transform fast enough to meet and exceed changing market demands makes for ideal raison d'être why the bank's effectiveness of management systems will engender measurable added value for its teeming customers. Best positioned to assist the bank in its quest to achieving sustainable business success with audits, assessments and certifications is DQS, which has become the respected certification partner for quality-focused companies around the world.

Pledge of Future Performance

Speaking at the recently official presentation of the certification, Executive Director, Operations, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr. Wole Adeniyi, said the certification was a sign of achievement but more importantly a pledge by the bank for future performance as quality management is a lasting commitment and the bank is consistently inspired by quality in its products and services, people, processes and leadership, stressing that the requirements of the system would be continually reviewed and developed for higher performance.

"We are delighted about the ISO 9001:2015 Certification. We welcome it as yet another demonstration of our drive to improve service delivery in all aspects of our business. We will continue to build on our existing strengths, including our membership of the Standard Bank Group, Africa's biggest financial institution, to undertake improvement actions for better quality of service across all segments and channels of our operations," Adeniyi said.

He said that following the milestone, "we reiterate our brand promise to help our customers move forward while expecting nothing short of the highest customer service, products and services, personnel and management quality standard." The certification, he added, provides another reason to benchmark the bank's performance by identifying flaws that require fixing and improvement. The ultimate goal is to deliver quality, reliability and proficient services through improved internal management and operational processes. "We have long recognized that improvements in our performance, which a robust quality management system assures, are directly connected to quality service and customer satisfaction."

Country Director, DQS Certification Management Systems, Mr. Lawrence Ogudu, affirmed that Stanbic IBTC Bank met the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 Certification, which, amongst others, entails demonstration of the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. It also involves the enhancement of customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory obligations.

End-to-end Digitisation Covering

The Stanbic IBTC Group's goal is to achieve end-to-end digitisation covering front-end and back end processes, Adeniyi said, adding that better process integration will help deliver great customer experiences, improve operational efficiency and ensure cost optimisation for the entire organisation. And because the customer is at the centre of everything we do at Stanbic IBTC, we do not see this certification as excuse to rest on our oars but a new challenge to achieve even more in our bid to enable and help our customers be more.

He added: "In final analysis, achieving customer satisfaction and experience is the dream of every organisation. However, only businesses organissations that accord the highest priorities to quality management systems can create excellence, stay ahead of the competition and earn the trust and confidence of customers, which subsequently translates to client retention and long-term viability."

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