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Kenyans prefer automated bank services but not in customer care: survey

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – A majority of customers in the country still value the traditional human model of customer service, as opposed to the idea of robots and artificial intelligence.

This is according to a finding by Kenya Bankers Association which found that 80 percent of customers would rather have humans handle their customer service needs.

The Customer Service Survey, however, stated that more research needs to be done to establish whether this trend owes to low levels of awareness about the value proposition of chatbots, robots and other emerging data-driven Artificial Intelligence technologies.

At the same time, the survey, which used feedback from 6,121 respondents, found that 49 percent of customers prefer mobile banking channels, followed by online banking at 16 percent and using ATMs at 15 percent.

 “This indicates the bearing of disruptive financial technology on the expectations of customers, who now prefer an enhanced digital experience for convenience, relative to the conventional brick-and-mortar model,’’ the survey notes.

Regarding industry-wide performance, 89 percent of respondents said they had a better service experience in 2018, compared to 2017, with 66 percent attesting to banks’ continued efforts to enhance their customer service standards.

Notably, the survey revealed that the size of the bank did not necessarily translate to better or worse customer service, with one Tier III bank, Credit Bank, performing better than several Tier I and Tier II banks.

Equity Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Credit Bank were rated first, second and third, respectively in customer care, out of KBA’s 47 members, which include retail and commercial banks and deposit-taking microfinance banks.

‘’This indicates that excellence in customer service can be leveraged as a competitive advantage; therefore, banks will want to continue to improve their customer experience as both a retention and growth strategy,’’ said KBA Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Nuru Mugambi.

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“Banks should invest more in financial technologies (FinTech), including mobile banking, to further enhance the user experience,” she added.

Through the survey, customers also called upon KBA to develop a harmonized industry-wide service standards.

Other recommendations included continuous training of call center agents and the introduction of a service award to recognize the top-performing banks.

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