Confidence in the banking industry in Saudi Arabia is on the rise, with improved sentiments over the past 12 months, EY’s Global Consumer Banking Survey “Winning Through Customer Experience” showed.
Customers in KSA have a high degree of trust in their primary financial service providers (PFSP), higher than seen globally, with 53 percent of respondents citing complete trust compared to 44 percent globally.
The survey interviewed 500 retail consumer banking customers in KSA who own at least one financial product and 32,642 retail consumer banking customers across 43 countries. The report identifies the key improvement areas and opportunities for financial service providers.
Gordon Bennie, MENA Financial Services Leader, EY, said: “The highest level of trust is a clear differentiator in creating advocacy, and customer experience is a key driver of that level of trust. The improved sentiment in KSA will help financial institutions as they work to solidify and expand relationships with their customers. Although confidence is high, customers are on the move, with unprecedented access to competing banks and to new types of financial services providers. Banks must earn the highest levels of trust in order to retain customers, win more business and create genuine loyalty.”
The study showed that Saudi customers place most emphasis and importance on trust in their PFSP in areas such as protecting financial information, keeping personal information safe and reputation. The second most important element was convenience, particularly the importance of excellent mobile banking features and easy access to branches and ATMs.
Highlighting the importance of building advocacy, when searching for a PFSP, Saudi customers are most likely to rely on recommendations from friends and relatives. Customers also look to bank-controlled sources of information, seeking information provided on bank websites as well as that provided by bank employees.
Moreover, the most common reason customers cited for opening or closing accounts in the past year was the experience with their financial services providers, rates/fees and convenience of having everything provided in one place.
“Customer experience drives not only complete trust, and thus advocacy and referrals, but also the amount of business customers are placing with their PFSP. Understanding the importance of, and their performance on, specific aspects of the experience will allow financial institutions to make targeted investments,” said Gordon.
Customers in KSA most frequently use ATMs and the Internet with more than half using the mobile channel on at least a weekly basis, indicating the importance of banks’ investing in this particular channel. Among the channels allowing for personal contact, customers in KSA make equal use of both the branch and call centers with close to a third of customers using these channels daily or weekly.
“Continued improvements in the self-service channels will enable personnel in the branch and call center to focus on sales and providing advice,” said Fahad Altoaimi, Office Managing Partner, EY Riyadh.
Customer habits and preferences
The strongest interest as a means of obtaining financial advice or assistance is through communication in person, but customers in KSA are also open to virtually all forms of receiving advice, whether by telephone or the use of online financial management tools.
KSA customers put a much larger emphasis on pricing and cost compared to their global counterparts, citing “finds ways to save you money”, “allows you to choose from different pricing options” and “offers low cost banking options” as important engagement opportunities with their PFSPs.
The study also showed that Saudi customers tend to be more active in opening and closing accounts with their different providers than their global counterparts. 66 percent of customers in KSA opened and closed accounts/services in the past year and 63 percent intend to do so in the coming year compared to 52 percent and 40 percent respectively globally. Customers in KSA are most vulnerable to switching to alternative providers that can better provide access to financial experts.
“Financial services providers in KSA can benefit from making their offerings simple and clear and helping customers make financial decisions. When problems arise, it is important to become the customer’s advocate as this builds relationships and trust.
“Due to the nature of customers in KSA actively exploring and pursuing their options, financial services providers need to retain their customers by adapting their services to match the competition entering and penetrating the existing marketplace,” Fahad noted.
Source: Saudi Gazette