Online customers demand more as banks go digital



Online customers demand more as banks go digital

Nearly half of customer inquiries for banking services were awaiting answers last year, preventing the majority of Kenyans from opening accounts with some lenders.

Deloitte and DataEQ’s Kenya Banking Sentiment Index 2022 shows that 47.1% of queries on social media platform Twitter, such as registering with banks and pricing loans, went unanswered.

This comes against a backdrop of increased use of social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, to engage with service providers and businesses.

“On average, only 52.9% of priority service-related tweets received a public response. One possible reason for this low responsiveness is the high ratio of non-priority to priority conversations on social media,” the report states.

“The priority conversation represents less than a quarter of all conversations relevant to banks. This means that service requests or priority queries – while of great importance – could potentially get lost among all the social media noise.

It comes at a time when banks are turning to the internet in the fight for younger customers who demand more convenience and faster response times. This is likely to push more banks to hire digital customer relations officers who have more knowledge and ability to solve customer problems than traditional social media managers.

Negative opinions from bank customers and poor service experience underlie positive customer perception of M-Pesa compared to traditional lenders, even though users have expressed disinterest in loans, transaction fees and mobile money platform system downtime.

The report says banking customer conversations include service, digital experience with banking apps, products, transactions, prices and fees.

Customers reported disinterest in the platforms due to slow service at branches, long call wait times and poor responsiveness to queries, Stanbic, Equity Bank and Co-operative Bank receiving a number of complaints about this.

Lending has also dominated online discussions as consumers seek to find the bank offering the best interest rates, while highlighting those charging high interest rates for mortgages.

Over the past year, banks have embraced mobile banking offering services similar to physical branches, with most lenders seeing over 90% of total transactions through these digital channels.

Despite the shift to apps intended to improve the experience, customers reported a poor digital experience largely due to app downtime or USSD code service failure, leaving many unable to perform critical transactions. As a result, overall net operating sentiment in the industry was net negative at 50.3%.

“Customer service was one of the biggest conversation starters in the industry, with slow feedback and a lack of response to operational queries causing frustration,” he added.

“As banks strive to improve digital experiences, improving online social customer service is essential.”

The report shows that service-related mentions accounted for 97.6% of online conversations across the industry, centered on consumers providing feedback on their banking experience, requesting service on social media and seeking information about downtime, warranting banks’ attention.

Equity Bank was the top bank at answering questions to 80% of priority tweets despite having the highest volume of priority questions in the industry. Next come Co-op Bank and DTB Bank.

Absa performed the worst in this regard, despite having the lowest priority conversation volume. The bank performed below the industry average of 53% during the year, with a response rate of 14%.

The report tracked 336,434 consumer posts in 2021.

A recent Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) survey found that six out of 10 bank customers prefer mobile banking services over other forms of accessing banking services, highlighting the growing popularity of convenient and automated platforms.

KBA’s customer satisfaction survey revealed that mobile banking was the most preferred channel in 2021 with 58.4%, up from 52% the previous year.

Mobile banking services are primarily offered through USSD codes, using basic mobile phone technology to deliver financial services to customers without the internet.

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