According to the Banks and Specialised Deposit Taking Institutions Act 2016, rural banks are specialised deposit-taking institutions engaged primarily in deposit-taking business within a defined catchment area. Deposit-taking business means that RCBs take money on deposit and make loans or other advances of money.
Customers are one of the key stakeholders of RCBs. This is so because RCBs cannot undertake their deposit-taking business without customers. RCBs depend on customers’ deposits as their main source of funding. Customers’ deposits help RCBs to make investments and loans, thereby generating income. Customers are therefore the main reason for the existence of RCBs.
Employees of RCBs should appreciate the fact that they are in employment because of customers. If customers decide not to transact business with their banks, they will lose their jobs.
RCBs should therefore place premium on customer satisfaction. This means that customer satisfaction should be their top priority. It is worthwhile for RCBs to provide customer satisfaction due to the following benefits:
First, it will result in customer loyalty.
Second, customer satisfaction will influence positive word of mouth advertising.
Third, it will insulate RCBs from competitive pressures.
Fourth, it will lead to growth in deposits.
According to Michael Scott, a marketing expert, RCBs should ensure that they maximise customer’s positive experiences, and minimise customer’s negative experiences. He said that once this is done, RCBs customers will feel satisfied. He further said that customers visit banking halls for the following reasons: to make deposits, to make withdrawals; to make loan repayments; to access loans; and to make enquires. He went on to say that when existing and potential customers walk into the banking hall to transact above-mentioned businesses with RCBs, staff who interact with them should maximise positive experience – thereby ensuring customer satisfaction and delight.
So far, this article has touched on customers as key stakeholders in rural banking and the importance of customer satisfaction. Now, the question arises of how RCBs can gauge whether customers are satisfied or not.
This question is relevant because Technical Assistance Research Programme (TARP) has revealed that the average business does not hear from 96 percent of its unhappy customers. The TARP research demonstrates that customers do not actively complain to services firms themselves. Instead, they voice their dissatisfaction with their feet by defecting to competitors; and with their months, by telling others about their perceived mistreatment.
According to the TARP research, an average customer with a problem tells 9 or 10 people. (Source: Services marketing by Professor K. Douglas Hoffman). In view of the fact that most dissatisfied customers do not complain directly to service firms such as RCBs, it is therefore relevant to undertake customer satisfaction surveys. Some RCBs have huge numbers of dormant account holders – and among the reasons is customer dissatisfaction. Many a time, bank customers who are dissatisfied may not close their account but will stop operating it – thereby making it dormant.
I would therefore advise management of RCBs to undertake customer satisfaction surveys every six months, or once a year. If you are a manager or employee of RCBs reading this article. ask yourself this question: “When was the last time my bank carried out a customer satisfaction survey to reveal the level of customer satisfaction?”
If the answer is ‘never’, then it is advisable to undertake a customer satisfaction survey now. Customer satisfaction surveys will provide the following benefits:
First, they will provide formal means for customer feedback to RCBs which may identify existing and potential problems.
Second, customer satisfaction surveys will convey a message to customers that the bank cares about their wellbeing, and value customers input concerning its operations.
Third, it can help to develop customer service training programmes.
Fourth, data collected from customer satisfaction surveys might be used by RCBs for employee performance reviews and compensation decisions.
Fifth, they help in carrying out internal analyses which involve identifying strengths and weaknesses of RCBs’ service delivery process.
Thus far, this article has considered the relevance of customer satisfaction surveys in Rural Banking. I sincerely urge management of RCBs to carry out this important research at least once a year.
In fact, it will be wrong for RCBs to wait and expert direct voluntary feedback from customers to measure customer satisfaction. This is so because research has revealed that an average firm does not hear from 96 percent of its unhappy or dissatisfied customers.
Therefore, Management of RCBs will lose many customers and deposits while waiting for the other four percent to speak their minds.
I would also recommend that RCBs use both qualitative and quantitative techniques in their customer satisfaction surveys. More importantly, they can use the Likert scale method. Proven Trusted Solutions has expertise in conducting customer satisfaction surveys. Hence, RCBs and other financial institutions should avail themselves of their services.
The Author is the CEO of proven Trusted Solutions, an employee training and development and marketing research firm.
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