• Thursday, December 07, 2023
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Banks’ hidden charges put customers on edge, threaten financial inclusion


The current survival instincts by banks through arbitrary and hidden charges may have put customers on the edge, and could work against the financial inclusion campaign by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), BusinessDay investigations have revealed. Also, the latest weekly polls results released by the NOI Polls Limited have confirmed the development.

Indeed, majority of banking Nigerians (61%) agree that Nigerian banks are exploiting their customers through hidden charges.

Overall, the results show that about 29 percent agree that First Bank has the best customer service followed by GTBank with 26 percent. These two banks are perceived to be the best banks by a considerable distance. They are followed by Zenith Bank (9%), UBA (8%), Ecobank (7%), and Access Bank (6%).

NOI Polls is Nigeria’s leading opinion polling and research organisation that works in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation (USA), to conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria.

First Bank is mainly strong in terms of customer service in the South East (37%) and South South (35%), while GTBank is particularly strong in the South West (35%). Zenith Bank is second to First Bank in the South East with 16 percent, while UBA is second to First Bank in the North West with 21 percent. Analysis, according to gender, shows more female (31%) rooting for First Bank over GTBank (23%), while there is only a difference of 1 percent for the males.

Respondents were subsequently asked: Why do you think the bank mentioned has the best customer service? Overall, the majority of respondents (35%) chose the bank mentioned because the “staff are friendly and helpful.” This is followed by 22 percent with the explanation that the “staff are knowledgeable and efficient,” and 13 percent each mentioned the “staff are good at settling complaints” and “staff are patient with customers.”

In order to analyse responses in-depth, responses from the question “Which Nigerian bank has the best customer service?” were cross tabulated with the second question “Why do you think the bank mentioned have the best customer service?” This was done to highlight the performance of each bank on the specific reasons mentioned. In terms of customer service, First Bank outperforms all other banks under the “Quality service delivery” measure, gathering a majority of 61 percent. It also performs best in “staff are patient with customers” (31%) and “staff are knowledgeable and efficient”(30%). GTBank customer service staff performed best in terms of “staff are good at settling complaints” (31%) and “staff are patient with customers” (28%).

In addition, First Bank was judged to have the best customer service delivery closely followed by GTBank. These were the two key findings from the Bank Customer Service Snap poll done March 11, 2013. A conversation has grown among the banking public on poor service delivery and unexplained charges by banks on transactions. This conversation has been largely centred on a reviving global banking economy and continued crisis in the European region and its immediate impact on banks in Nigeria. The need to grow profits is seen as a trade-off for quality customer relationship and service delivery.

As the banking industry has gone from about 85 banks to 25 banks to 22 banks over the last decade, there is an increased pressure to stay relevant and profitable in a closely regulated industry. This pressure has continued to cause a decline in satisfaction levels with several customer engagement platforms specifically with the old fashioned ‘customer service desk.’ The Customer has become more intelligent on the range of services this function should cover and so have raised the bar of expectations for Banks. It is against this backdrop that NOI Polls sought the opinions of banking customers on customer relations and service delivery of Nigerian banks over the last quarter.