The self-satisfaction of the service industry: the banking sector in focus

Nii Armah Addy is an Education and Management expert

Finance and economic experts argued that Ghana could take advantage of its service industry to boost the economy. Time has proven that that ambition is far-fetched. The service industry in Ghana – from the hospital, hospitality, educational institutions through legal services to banking services – is self-satisfaction of the staff rather than the customers who brings the business.

Customer satisfaction is not their priority per se that are important to them. The only time you get a satisfactory service is when you have a personal relationship with a staff and that relation is on duty. Most of the time, you are treated as a bother rather than the reason for their existence.

This article takes a critical look into the banking sector and its customer relations as a factor of corporate leadership and management that requires attention. If there is one service provider in Ghana that most customers are dissatisfied with, it is the banking sector. Their attitude renders the banking sector award as an award of failures among failed equals; hence, a good reason to scrap that award as not fit for purpose.

I will not discuss complex banking issues as it is a preserve of a few and because they are easily identified as having big money, they may be getting preferential treatment and therefore, may not be affected by the myriad of disrespect meted out to many ordinary bank users. The arrogance of the banking staff are usually by the young women. It beats my mind why so many of them are in that space.

It is as if the first qualification for working in the front office of the bank is to be a young woman with a certain outlook rather than brains and ethics of banking. It is also, as if the banking restructure has left banking customers with fewer options than before and therefore, they have to contend with the poor level of services.

There is no argument about the fact that businesses are in existence to make profit; but should their profit motives override the human-centredness of their customers from whom they make the profit? The self-satisfaction of the banking sector in Ghana is without doubt an institution only interested in the money of its customers with no regards to the carriers of the money. I will enumerate six (6) points to support this assertion.

  1. Tellers

For ordinary retail banking, the teller is usually your first point of contact. They represent the image of the bank. Your customer experience originates from your relationship with the teller. Most of the tellers are young women. How much you are saving or withdrawing determines their smile. If your transaction does not show enough money, they are condescending. Their perceived conclusion is that you cannot give them a tip.

The level of distraction by the tellers accumulates to more time than they spend on customers. They either talk to colleagues endlessly or are frequently out of the cage. Bleach and provocative dresses rides post. Occasionally, you find those with lots of piercing and anklets characteristically not worthy of a dressing particularly as a banking staff in the banking hall while on duty. It is no wonder their looks reflect their relationship to customers.

The sinful part is when at withdrawal, they intentionally take one or two notes off your money suspecting that you will not notice it. At their unfortunate times when a customer decides to cross check and notice their pilfering, they giggly smile and pretend it was a genuine mistake; meanwhile they are serving their self-interest to the detriment of unsuspecting customers.

  1. Car park, security personnel and poor washroom maintenance

While the staff and managers of the banks park their cars safely, customers usually struggle to find parking space when they go to transact banking business. This singular act shows that the banks seek their self-interest and comfort than their customers who give reason for the bank’s existence.

Security personnel at the banks are arrogant and show little or no interest in customer care. They instruct you abusively and take no reasoning from a customer if it is contrary to the instructions they are given. They have no sense of situational analysis. They only act jerky and arrogantly, knowing that their behaviour stems from instruction given to them by the bank and that nothing will happen to their employment even if you report them.

A customer who is a minute late after the banking hall closing time elapsed will not be given a second to talk to any of the bankers in the bank to explain the situation that led to the lateness. Inasmuch as some of the excuses may be frivolous, at least, listen to all; there may be some cogent reasons for some lateness and some may even have life threatening consequences if that money is not withdrawn.

Amazingly, the bank that requires strictness in service does not apply it to their washrooms. I wonder if the managers’ washrooms are equally unkempt. A reference to this subject is titled ‘the corporate washroom’, an article I authored. The article has much to say on the environment of corporate washrooms and its impact on productivity.

  1. Seat

The behaviour of banks offering customers seat at the least opportunity is an affront to quick service delivery. You questioned the delay in service and the rhetorical response is: “That is why you were given a seat”. The delays in banking services affect productivity of customers.

If you are lucky to have a courteous and ethical bank manager, you will be given reason to the delay; otherwise, nobody tells you anything except to be told to be in a queue. The laxity in service provision by the banks gives an impression as if they are doing the customers a favour when, in fact, they are serving their self-interest.

  1. Breakdown in Information Technology (IT) system

One of the common occurrences in the banking sector is challenges associated with their Information Technology (IT) system. Every IT system is fashioned by human operations. It beats my mind how such challenge occurs frequently without an immediate or permanent solution. Why should banking customers endure same challenge repeatedly?

If IT is a necessary feature for banking operations, then banks must make every effort to eradicate or reduce to the barest minimum IT-related challenges. The fact that the problem occurs frequently shows little importance is attached to solving the problem.

Who pays for the repercussion of a broken down IT system which prevents a customer from withdrawal; and as a result a fatality occurs, maybe death of a relative? The banks are so wicked that any explanation to access your own money when they have IT challenges is impossible. I doubt if the bank managers go through same ordeal when they experience the same challenge; hence, their self-satisfaction at the detriment of customers.

  1. Lack of empathy, logic and reasoning skills

Following afore-mentioned, the banks lack empathy to its customers. They have little contingency for customer emergencies. It is more painful when the account is a joint signatory and one signatory is indisposed. No amount of explanation suffice.

They suddenly behave as the traditional security guard referred to as ‘‘watchman’’ whose slogan is ‘‘master say’’. They never show empathy, neither do they express basic logic nor reasoning in any matter except what the master says. They are human, yet unfeeling.

I experienced an unpleasant situation of a joint signatory account that the bank will not budge for the little withdrawal for an emergency. The cheeky chuckling teller referred the matter to her seniors who were more confused, cheeky chuckling, yet bossy. I yelled across to expose their lack of empathy, logic and reasoning.

How are such persons employed in a sensitive place like the bank when everything they do is routine and never think practically? Soon robots will take their positions.

  1. Service charge

Excessive profiteering and the wickedness of government financial policies have made banking customers pay more service charge than expected. While government is spending leisurely with poor financial outlook, banks are profiting from its customers and citizens are suffering.

With regards to the mess in the banking sector, though largely blamed on poor economic governance, a few banks have taken undue advantage of the situation. A complete overhauling of government financial machinery is non-negotiable and irrevocable.

Like Eneke the Bird in Okonko’s ‘Things Fall Apart’, if the hunter has learnt to shoot without missing, Eneke the Bird has equally learnt to fly without perching. Synonymous to the banking situation in service charge, if the government is burnt on charging the banks obnoxiously, the banks have also vowed to add their profit and pass it on to their customers to finance their unflinching self-satisfaction.

In the end, the government and the banks enjoy while customers suffer. Such operational strategy is nothing but utter wickedness and slothfulness to making undeserved money.

In conclusion, I wish to state emphatically that some aspects of some banking operations are good and worthy of commendation though I do not intend to mention them here. There is so much more the banking regulator must do to enforce quality service in the sector. In addition, in the spirit of corporate leadership and management, there is so much that managers of the banks can do to ensure customer satisfaction.

Leave a Reply