Walsbridge research reveals poor customer call response rate in banking sector

The customer call response rate in Ghana’s banking industry is just 21% at the branch level, according to a recent study.

In other words, for every 100 phone calls bank customers make to get their issues addressed in a bank branch, only 21 eventually get answered.  

This is according to the latest research dubbed “Banking Industry Telephony Efficiency (BITE) Index” by Market Research firm, Walsbridge.

The study was done over a 7-month period between June 2016 and January 2017 at the branch level.

The research outcome is an indication that prospective and existing have only 2 out of 10 chances of getting through to a branch via the branch’s regular telephone line, typically provided on their website and other printed and other promotional materials.

It also suggests that banks are rather actively contributing to the long queuing in banking halls by compelling people to be present physically to obtain information and/or services which can easily be done on phone.

BACKGROUND

In Ghana, telephone banking applications are typically for general enquiries, complaint handling, balance enquiry and low-security transactions. Even so, most customers struggle to access quality services via telephone and this undoubtedly is contributing to the persistent queuing and congestion in the banking halls.  

The survey, therefore, sought to provide sound data, help the industry and business leaders in general identify and address specific challenges faced by prospective and existing customers in accessing basic information and services over telephones – ultimately to the benefit of businesses as well as individuals. 

THE METHODOLOGY

Data was collected over a period of 7 months between  June 2016 and January 2017, using telephone mystery shopping approach.  A total of 650 phone calls were made to 211 branches of 23 commercial banks from a “non‐customer” perspective. 

A non-customer perspective provides a fair and unprivileged access which is key to the evaluation.  The assessment was based on 26 key performance indicators which were also put into four major categories namely: Telephone Response Rate, Telephone Etiquette, Product Knowledge and Competence and  Consistency in Pricing Information delivery.  

The Chief Executive of Walsbridge, Kofi Asamoah explained to Business Editor, Emmanuel Agyei the rationale behind using 23 banks of the current 33 banks for the exercise.

“Some of the banks had not been given licenses whilst others were fairly new, which means they didn’t have many branch networks. One of the key parameters we used was that any bank that didn’t provide telephone numbers directly to their branches was not included in the survey. 

“We think in order for this study to be representative and produce robust data that people can use for decision making we needed to look at those who are providing numbers directly to their branches, and they are in the majority” he explained. 

He further expatiated on the methodology applied in the research.

“We used what we call the stratified sampling which simply means we sampled 23 banks, but we know that the banks have multiple branches. So in order to make a strong case for how widespread the problem may be or not, we decided to select between 8-10 branches per each sampled bank. What we did was that we select the first 10 branches from the website of a bank. Mr Asamoah explained.

THE FINDINGS

Out of the 650 (attempted) phone calls, only 135 representing 20.8% were answered.

The call response rate is the percentage of calls successfully answered by the intended recipients on the first attempt. This rate is important because high response rate suggests that the telephone numbers are: correct or valid, connected at all times, answered at all each time it rings and answered by the right branch or persons. 

Detailed analysis of specific response prospective customers receive each time they make a phone call to their preferred branch shows that 42% of successfully connected calls are also simply ignored whilst 34% encounter setbacks and other technical frustrations such as: Calls being answered by wrong persons and/or wrong branches, invalid telephone numbers (numbers that are more or less than 10 digits), and numbers that ring and disconnects almost instantaneously – irrespective of the number of times a client calls.

Reasons underlying the high telephone non-response rate in the Ghanaian banking sector is a subject matter for another study. However, theories on persistent poor organizational phone culture point to several factors.

This includes indifference –  involving situations where staff becomes comfortable ignoring inbound calls simply because they can for no other reason.  Since most landlines do not have missed-call monitoring system and/or not monitored, over time, it becomes part of the branch to ignore phone calls. 

Also is the lack of dedicated Staff to inbound calls. If at the branch level, phone calls are not handled with the same level of seriousness as the call centres, it eventually reflects poorly on the entire organization.

Obsolete service-protocols could also be blamed for the lower call-response rate. Phone calls may not be answered because client service executives are busy attending to walk-in clients who are given precedence over phone-in clients in some institutions.

This is evident in the results of this survey where 16% of surveyed CSE informed the research team that they were busy attending to physically present clients and therefore should call back later.

MOVING FORWARD

The 21 percent customer call response rate in the banking industry is way below the international standard of at least 80 percent.

This, according to Mr. Asamoah is worrying given the critical role of communication not only in today’s banking industry but the business world at large.      

“We’ve had a meeting with the CEO of Ghana Association Of Bankers, D. Mensah and he thinks this is something that they are aware of and are trying to put in place measures. He also pointed out that there are other avenues such as online portals that you can get information from.

This is true but the focus of this study is not to look at how well the websites and the portals work. There is a very good reason you give people phone numbers, and we think that once you put it out there it has to work” he noted.

The full report is to be launched on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 in partnership with Joy Business. This will reveal the Best Bank in categories such as Telephone Etiquette,  Product Knowledge, Pricing information Consistency and the Ultimate BITE winner (the Most Telephone Efficient Bank).

 

 

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