Money News Update

Reinforcing market dominance with customer service

It is over five years since financial stability was the dominant reason for choosing banking relationships. Fifty-five per cent of retail banking customers say they choose to maintain their banking relationships because of the quality of customer experience, last year’s Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey (NBICES) report by KPMG has shown. FirstBank has stayed ahead of competition and maintained market dominance through improved customer services and product development, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

Bank customers always have their perception on what they want their banks to do for them, and that determines their perception on the lender. The most important thing for a customer could be the convenience a bank’s products and services offer, or quality of its services.

According to the recently-released Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey (NBICES) report by KPMG, customers are more informed and know what experiences feel like, often judging their experiences across industries.

They are no longer comparing banks with their peers, but rather against their best experiences.

Customers compare their banking mobile apps to the gaming or shopping apps on their smartphones.  Banks still enjoy high levels of trust; for the leaders in this year’s research, only about three per cent of their retail banking customers say they want to switch their main bank relationships.

This is in comparison to an industry average of six per cent. Nevertheless, there is a growing trend of customers using services from  providers while keeping their main bank relationships.

Also, major three reasons for maintaining banking relationships shows that quality of service experience,  financial stability, image and reputation are crucial.

With these developments, right thinking banks are adapting to what the customers want. To be competitive, banks have to offer easy online and mobile tools and great customer service at a low price. That’s why FirstBank of Nigeria Limited prioritises quality customer services and product development.

For FirstBank, it is about capitalising on these elements to not only draw in consumers, but also get them to stay around and start promoting the brand as well. These have impacted positively on its brand and earned it several recognitions.

For instance, FirstBank emerged 2019 Best Mobile Banking App and Fastest-Growing Retail Bank winner by Global Business Outlook.

FirstBank CEO Adesola Adeduntan

The award rewards excellence in companies. It rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.

FirstBank earned the Fastest-Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of beskpoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.

It also won the Best Mobile Banking App award thanks to its Firstmobile banking app’s capability at performing a wide range of financial transactions in a safe, adaptable, futuristic and efficient manner. The user-friendly app is widely renowned for its ease of navigation and state of the art security features to mitigate risk against fraud.

Last year, FirstBank bagged numerous awards across various areas of its business operations. The awards comprise Women Empowerment Category – Sustainable Banking Awards by CBN Bankers Committee, Best Private Bank in Nigeria by Global Finance Magazine and World Finance Magazine respectively; Best Process Automation Initiative, Application or Programme by Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services; Best Banking Brand Nigeria by Global Brands Magazine.

The bank was also named the Best Retail Bank in Nigeria by Global Banking and Finance Review and Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards; Cashless Driver: Highest Volume in Bill Payments and Highest Transaction Volume in Real-Time Payments by CBN Electronic Payments Incentive Scheme (EPIS) – Efficiency Awards; Long Service Corporate Award by Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Best Financial Inclusion Program – Nigeria and Bank of The Year – Nigeria  by International Investor, among others.

Speaking on the awards, the bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney said: “We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the  awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated. We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”

According to the KPMG report, when assessed against the six pillars, integrity, de ned as being trustworthy and engendering trust, is the Pillar where Nigerian banks perform the strongest. This is not unexpected given the role banks play in the lives of customers.

Integrity is also fundamental to great customer experience – without it, the experience loses value. Personalisation, which is the bank’s ability to use individualised attention to drive emotional connection with the customer, lags other pillars and we discuss this further in the document.

Ultimately, as more banks progress towards an average score, less differentiation is noted amongst them by customers. Performing well is the new minimum standard required and adapting to changing expectations is critical to success.

Speaking at the third lender’s   yearly Fintech Summit  in Lagos, FirstBank Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said the bank remained committed to putting its customers first with excellent financial services and devising new ways of effectively meeting customers’ financial needs.

“Customer experience and innovation are key in our approach to satisfying our customers. As a leading banking services solutions provider, FirstBank has continued to set the pace in the financial services industry, coming up with new initiatives to provide financial products and services with greater speed, accountability and efficiency. Evidently, Financial technology is causing positive disruption in the financial services industry. The impact of technology in lifestyle business and other areas of today’s customer is huge. We are therefore following global trends in collaborating with Fintechs and other big technology companies on several transformational initiatives to satisfy our customers’ needs,” Adeduntan stated.

He said the purpose of the  summit is to converge thought leaders on the Fintech space to champion discourse around financial technology and proffer solutions that will shape the future of banking. He said key areas of interest to the bank, amongst others, are propositions around e-business and digital offering, agent banking, wholesale or transaction banking, retail and Consumer Lending and SME Productivity.

FirstBank’s Group Executive, Technology Services, Callistus Obetta, said Fintech has made positive disruptions in banking and other financial services; and institutions would do well to take advantage of it.

Rewarding youths with scholarships

First Bank has splashed N2.7 million worth of scholarships on 18 customers under its XploreFirst promo to boost savings culture and promote financial inclusion among students.

The winners were drawn from the six geopolitical zones and Lagos at the finale/grand raffle of XploreFirst promo. The winners emerged through an electronic draw handled by Tequila on behalf of the bank and supervised by KPMG, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lagos State Lottery Board and Consumer Protection Commission (CPC).

FirstBank Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, Chuma Ezirim, said: “XploreFirst is a FirstBank savings account variant designed specifically for students between the age range of 18 to 29.” Ezirim said a minimum of N1, 000 was required to open the account and account holders are to maintain a minimum balance of N200 to run the account. He said the XploreFirst promo was one of the special benefits of the account.

According to him, the 18 winners that emerged at the final draw will be offered yearly scholarships of N150,000 each. Ezirim said the initiative was targeted at youths, especially those in tertiary institutions and informal sector, to enhance savings culture and drive financial inclusion across the country.

“Customers are offered yearly scholarships of N150,000 as incentives to maintain a certain amount of deposit, in this case, N10,000 in their account over a 30-day period to qualify for the monthly draws and giveaways.

“Customers who maintain the set balance over the six months’ period are eligible to win the jackpot of N150,000, the grand finale prize,” he said.

Ezirim noted that the initiative would be sustained by the bank in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) financial inclusion mandate.

Also, the bank’s Head, Youth/Women Banking, Mr. Olufemi Odumuboni, said the promo dynamics was centered on making people to engage in financial discipline.

Odumuboni said winners were selected based on certain principles that made them eligible to qualify for the draw. He explained that apart from the N2.7 million set aside for the yearly scholarships, the bank had splashed about N900, 000 on customers who won at the various monthly draws for data purchase for their mobile phones.

“Winners from the monthly draw selected from the bank’s six geopolitical zones are entitled to N5, 000 each, which they are encouraged to use for data purchase for their mobile phones,” Odumuboni stated.

Susie Onwuka of CPC commended the bank for ensuring transparency throughout the promo.

Onwuka said the bank had deployed modern technology in the promo process to eliminate bias, noting that, the agency was happy with the process and the bank.

“Promotions should be registered to show transparency and ensure fairness to the consumers,” she said. Onwuka said the regulatory body would follow up with the winners to ensure they were rewarded accordingly. Some of the scholarship winners included Mr. Offiong Micheal, Ezugba Chukwuebuka, Olorunfemi Oluwatunmise, Adekale Adenike and Agbakwuru Dorcas.

Banks have continued to invest in technology. Also, JP Morgan invests over $10 billion yearly in technology and innovation to drive positive change and constant breakthroughs.  For instance, Bank of America, with deposit and balance sheet size standing at $1.38 trillion and $2.35 trillion  has also made huge investments in technology.

Citibank is also bringing the technologies to emerging market. Its   customers can apply for their credit cards online, submit their documents, and wait for few minutes to get their card issuance application approved online rather than having to queue in branches.

More regulation for Fintechs

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele agrees that the rising influence of Fintechs in financial services had facilitated expanding access to financial services to hard-to-reach populations and small businesses at low cost and risk.

Emefiele  said so far, over $2 billion was spent yeary on the acquisition of hardware and software solutions. This, he added, will ensure that  Nigeria addresses  emerging opportunities and challenges in the digital era.

He said the CBN and the Bankers Committee had also decided to work towards the establishment of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) training centre, which will also include an Information Technology hub. He added that the CBN would be reviewing the regulatory framework for Fintech operations to protect customers using their payment platforms.

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