Customer service in Zimbabwe is a huge issue across literally every industry. Often time I have seen or been engaged in conversations where people discuss customer service-related issues in Zimbabwe. Ironically, it seems most Zimbabweans have gotten so used to bad customer service that they now even justify it. Regardless, bad customer service should be called out for what it is despite how mainstream it somehow is. One of the areas we can specifically focus on is the banking sector. In this article, I explore customer service delivery in that sector here in Zimbabwe.
Implications Of Customer Service In Banks
The tenets of customer service are broadly the same regardless of industry. However, some dynamics are more crucial in other industries. In banking, there is a huge aspect about the fact that customers can be served both physically and virtually.
Financial jargon in banking can be somewhat confusing to most folks. Thus it is expected of a bank to simplify all that such that anyone can understand a bank’s products or services. This also means a bank must be able to communicate with customers using popular native languages. For instance here in Zimbabwe that includes Shona and Ndebele, amongst others.
Banks must also be cognizant of how high the incidence of queries is. This means banks ought to have the muscle and agility to attend to numerous queries daily. This also implies that banks must continuously work on tweaking and upgrading their systems to be more efficient.
These are just some of the core issues that are central to customer service in banks. Let me get into some talking areas regarding customer service in the Zimbabwean banking sector.
One of the interesting things about most banks is that they have quite a large staff compliment. There are of course some banks that have low staff numbers and that can be easily attributable to their dismal customer service. The biggest irony though stems from banks with a large staff. You will still find overall customer service being so horrible. At times you end up wondering what all the staff is really there for.
Speed Of Service
Overall, it is commonplace to find long queues at Zimbabwean banks. Several variables are connected to this. Obviously, they seem to be overwhelmed by the number of walk-ins who come every day. Not quite sure why there seems to be a pattern of slowness across the banks. When you consider the fact that banks close around or before 3 pm you realize we have a big problem.
Queries are always and will always be there. Transactions that fail to get through are one of the most common ones. When one goes in person they are faced with long queues. When one tries the virtual options it takes forever to get attended to.
Customers are usually subjected to crude treatment in banks. One of the most annoying ones is being tossed to and fro. It is funny how someone refers you to someone who in turn refers you to the same person you initially talked to. Some of the bank staff is so coarse that interacting with them seems like you are begging for them to give you their personal money. On online platforms, it is common to be ignored. Even when you get responded to it is usually rehearsed and pre-written responses that are devoid of actual action. You just need to go on banks’ social media platforms to witness this for yourself.
Redundancies And Duplications
You already hold an active account with a bank and at some point, you want to upgrade it. You will then be asked to provide copies of ID, proof of residence, passport photos. I do not really see the point of all that; after all, we are talking of going digital. This is just an example of the many redundancies and duplication of things that makes the certain simple process so unnecessarily long. I even know of a bank where such upgrades are taking an eternity to be processed. It is quite surprising!
Where To From Here?
Zimbabwean banks must introspect and figure out how to treat customers with dignity and respect. It always amazes me how there have not really seen cases of customers suing banks. Seriously some of the things customers are subjected to are horrendous. Imagine going for over 1 month failing to access your money because of some query a bank is not addressing. I have heard of incidents where employers sent through monies for their employees and yet it does not get to them. Employees end up going up and down to the bank to get the query rectified. Is this really how it should be? Certainly not!
I wish someone would do a study where they talk to customers who have actually lost money. The incidents of transactions failing to go through yet money being deducted are infinite. Most of them went unaddressed and customers simply moved on. I am curious as to the total amount of money that has been lost through this over the years.
Not all banks are at the apex of poor customer service. Some of the banks do provide considerably good customer service. However, each bank does have some issues of concern. For as long as we still have generally poor customer service in banks we can forget about attaining total financial inclusion any time soon. We are currently looking at approximately half of the Zimbabwean population that is unbanked. You can expect them to stay away from banking given the widespread poor customer service in banks. One should not feel like they are begging to access their money. It should not seem like it is a crime for one to choose to bank their money. Zimbabwean banks have to do better – I will not mention names but some banks are downright appalling when it comes to customer service.