Majority Saudis trust finance service providers
Riyadh, March 3, 2014
More than half of the customers (53 per cent) in Saudi Arabia have a high degree of trust in their primary financial service providers (PFSP) compared to the global average of 44 per cent, said a report.
Also the confidence in the Saudi banking industry is on the rise, with improved sentiments over the past 12 months, stated Ernst & Young in its 'Global Consumer Banking Survey.
The survey titled ‘Winning through customer experience’ interviewed 500 retail consumer banking customers in the kingdom 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, E&Y, 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 Saudi 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," he noted.
The E&Y 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, stated the survey.
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, the E&Y survey stated.
"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,” remarked Gordon.
The survey found that customers in Saudi Arabia 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 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,” observed Fahad Altoaimi, the office managing partner, E&Y Riyadh.
According to him, the strongest interest as a means of obtaining financial advice or assistance is through communication in person, but customers in the kingdom are also open to virtually all forms of receiving advice, whether by telephone or the use of online financial management tools.
They 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. About 66 per cent in Saudi opened and closed accounts/services in the past year and 63 per cent intend to do so in the coming year compared to 52 per cent and 40 per cent respectively globally.
The E&Y in its study pointed out that the customers in Saudi Arabia are most vulnerable to switching to alternative providers that can better provide access to financial experts.
"Financial services providers 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," explained Fahad.
"Due to the nature of Sadi customers 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," he added.-TradeArabia News Service