Dear readers, we are all aware of the great strides that the banking industry is making to create convenience and great customer service to customers. However, there is one segment of society who are facing some challenges with the current banking practices.
You can take today’s article with a pinch of salt or even regard it as satirical, depending on how you want to take it. Just relax and have fun reading it while pondering over the issues of concern from the point of view of concerned citizens, customers of banks as well as some ex-bankers. In the subsequent article, we can take the serious aspects as food for thought as we segment the issues that affect the bank’s treatment for the special customers labelled as senior citizens, most of whom have huge investments which is valuable as stable source of income to banks. Some of them are illiterate and have special needs in their banking operations. Quite a number of them were BBC (Born Before Computer)
If any of these quotations, observations or situations are similar, it is purely coincidental. Here is a tall list of their sayings and apprehensions:
“For several decades, banking has been regarded as a noble profession because bank staff are trained to exhibit professionalism and honesty in their dealings. Most members who count the church offerings and form part of the finance committees are bankers and accountants. We trusted them with our funds. But what are we hearing of late?, frauds, bank collapses etc.
“Some bad nuts have infiltrated the industry and soiling its reputation. I hope the Regulator flushes all such miscreants off from the system”
“I remember my regular unannounced visits to my branch manager. His eyes always lit up and his pleasant smiles made me feel welcome. After all, he knows that I am an advocate for his bank, and always ready to defend them when others complain. I am indeed a customer for life. These days, I have to stay clear of the bank. Everything is about digital banking. I am one of the twenty largest depositors in the branch, but I didn’t even get a call from my Relationship Manager. I only got an alert message on my phone saying Happy birthday! If this continues, I will try Ama’s bank. I need the human touch or voice!”
“What happened to Relationship Banking? I used to send my daily cash to the bank. I always go to the bulk counting bay where I sat down to supervise my cash being counted with so much love and appreciation from the ladies. If I do not deposit for three days, the manager would call me and ask why. There was close monitoring of customers. Customers became loyal because they feel a sense of belonging. These days, cash is no more king. Some Tellers even cringe when they see me enter with the carton full of cash. Oh dear, these days I feel it’s a bother to them. But if my trading customers pay me cash, I can’t refuse it. What shall I do? Where do I take the cash to? The mobile money fraudsters are worrying us, while the fees from the Telcos are exhorbitant”
“I used to enjoy my visits to the bank counters. Shall I tell you why? The beautiful ladies, of course. They were a sight for sore eyes. Dressed beautifully but decently, always ready with a smile to attend to my enquiries. Can I have my balance? Can I get a statement? I want a loan. I am expecting some transfers, so please check if they are in my account. what happened to the cheque that I deposited into my account? Why was it dishonoured by the paying bank? These days, enquiries have been substituted with bank apps, mobile banking, etc. It is good and convenient but I miss my bankers”
“My bank manager is my financial advisor and gives me the appropriate investment advice, credit facilities and even arranges for the bank to guarantee my performance to my business partners. Sometimes I forget some of my cheques I have issued, and he calls me for confirmation. Now everything is digital and the robots are coming!”
“I am a Paramount Chief. I used to call my manager anytime I wanted to go personally to the bank to withdraw cash. My manager would arrange fresh notes for me, as I am also served privately and with the dignity that I deserve. Now I have to go the ATM. This machine does not know me and churns out a lot of dirty notes into my palm! Nobody to say “thanks Nana and have a good day” Now thanks to alimighty COVID 19, I have to sanitize the machine and the cash that comes out of it! I even have to queue sometimes to visit that machine.
“These days, I have to talk to a machine when I am faced with a problem. I am directed to a call centre to speak to an unknown person who may not even address me well. My Teller calls me Professor, my hard-earned name. Don’t they know that I am the Board Chairman of a multi-national company and also a priority account holder? Where is my Relationship Manager? I miss her”
“Due to COVID 19, I received a text message from my bank to take advantage of the digital banking opportunity in the bank. More or less, it means stay clear of the bank premise and if necessary, call us. I have never received a call from all the three banks that I operate with. Perhaps they are afraid of me because I may decide to go there, carrying the plague. Covid has come to spoil my banking relationship. It is forcing me to keep money at home. I attempted to talk to the front desk officer in one of my banks and the fear factor was showing in his eyes, although he was in a mask. Poor him. He was afraid I will give him the plague.”
“ These days, the slogan is “’touch and go” but where am I rushing to go to? Senior citizens do not rush around. When I plan to go to the bank, I dress well, enter the premises with confidence and expect to see the welcoming smiles of the branch staff. Sometimes I even want to say hello to all the front liners, as well as the manager. As for me, I will not touch and go. I do not want to chat with a robot. Leave that to the Millennials and Generation Z who are always in a hurry and cannot stand any delay in the bank. They are the “instant coffee” generation. They cannot wait for anything and need to have their touch and go transactions on their smart phones”
“I remember the Monday mornings when I intentionally visited the customer service manager, just to say hello, ask for my balance and share some of my love jokes with her. It was a stress-relief when my weekends were boring. She was very professional and tolerated me in a nice way because she knows my account is a big source of revenue to the branch. Admiring her alone gave me some joy. Now I cannot indulge in those fantasies anymore. Every question I have can be answered by the mobile banking app, the bank’s robot, call center staff. I hear loan requests can be processed by the bank’s artificial intelligence software and decision made in minutes! Yes, the machine is thinking for us and can even anticipate my thoughts in the future! Goodness, I need to talk to a human being”
“As for my Makola branch manager, he has a way of making us ladies feel cherished. At least I try to visit the branch twice a week to have my relationship period with his pleasant disposition, and great business advisory skills. Although I do not need a loan from my bank, his invaluable advice to me has been rewarding. He has a listening ear, nods to show he cares, and gently explains the bank’s processes to me when I get annoyed and try to become difficult with the tellers. I am never going to change my account to another bank. I am safe and secure with my bankers. Can you imagine, they sent me a huge birthday cake on my seventieth birthday?”
“My Suame branch, in Kumasi is my A Team. Such show of empathy when I lost my dear husband due to a stroke. Even during his illness, they sent a card and a delegation visited him at the hospital, accompanied by words of inspiration. We have become family. They were well represented during my husband’s funeral and took charge of the donation box, and placed the funds in an account for me. Yes, I am a customer for life. My close friend Dinah is however not happy with them. She says she is treated like an outcast anytime she goes to the bank. She is illiterate and cannot operate digital banking. She is sixty-nine years old but very shrewd and good with her business. The front desk officers do not like her constant trips to the bank to check the deposits that her customers lodge into her account. She has been asked to prepare a power of attorney to her son to operate the account. Meanwhile this son of hers is very dishonest and cannot be trusted. Where has the empathy, trust and care of the bankers gone to?”
Please stay tuned for the brighter side of banking next week
To be continued.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations ethics and fraud.