UAE customers prefer digital-first approach to banking services


Consumers in the UAE increasingly want to be able to resolve their basic banking issues without having to speak to a bank adviser by phone, according to a new survey from Avaya.

The findings reveal that customers’ most preferred channel for accessing banking services is via a mobile app, contacting bank advisers only for more consultative engagements like applying for loans or addressing fraudulent activity.

The Customer Experience in Banking Survey, conducted with YouGov, queried more than 5,000 banking customers in four countries—the UAE, UK, Australia and India. The latter is the only country with a stronger preference for mobile banking than the UAE, preferred by 26% of respondents compared to the UAE’s 24 percent. Despite their enthusiasm for mobile banking, consumers in the UAE are actually the least keen to use online services via their bank’s website, with a stronger preference for mobile apps.

Ensuring the right experience

Getting the customer experience right is vital to UAE banks as 41 percent of respondents say that they would change their bank as a result of bad customer service – the highest of the four countries surveyed. Around the same percentage (38 percent) would also share their bad experience with their friends and acquaintances, with nearly half indicating that they would lodge a formal complaint with their bank.

Regardless of how they choose to contact their bank, the majority of UAE customers want the same level of experience and service across all channels. Following that, other top asks from UAE banking customers include the ability to switch between contact center channels without having to repeat themselves, that any person who answers their phone call is fully competent to handle their request, and that bank advisors know not only who they are, but what their outstanding problems are.

Problems to be resolved on the first point of contact

While more robust digital channels are one way for banks to improve the customer experience, a fifth of those in the UAE would still prefer to visit their bank’s branch and speak with a relationship officer for services.

Moreover, the UAE still has the highest percentage of banking customers who would prefer to chat with a relationship officer over the phone, with 14 percent choosing this channel compared to just 11 percent in India and seven percent in both Australia and the UK. It is possible this is because more than half (56 percent) of UAE bank customers want their problems to be resolved on the first point of contact.

Virtual Financial Advisors (VFAs) – representatives from the bank who engage customers through virtual means and service them remotely with online tools – seem to be an ideal solution based on the preferences of UAE respondents. According to the survey, the most valued benefit of having a VFA is being able to get faster resolutions of their banking inquiries regardless of the contact center channel they use.

Staying away from fraudulent transactions 

Furthermore, customers in the UAE by and large prefer not to be contacted by their bank for basic services. Problematic or potentially fraudulent transactions are the number one reason why UAE customers would want their banks to contact them. Only 40 percent of UAE customers would want to be notified if their credit card or banking service is up for renewal, with the same number interested in personal offers and only a third wanting to know about new launches or services.

“For banks in the UAE today, delivering a superior customer experience requires coordination across all customer touchpoints—whether online or offline,” says Yaser Alzubaidi, Engagement Solutions Sales Leader for Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (AMEA) at Avaya.

“It really comes down to personal autonomy and being able to choose the way you interact with your bank depending on the situation at hand. We do see that mobile platforms are increasingly popular channels through which to engage banks as technologies like voice and video move digital. Yet while we may reach customer support through a mobile app, I think customers will always want to be able to speak to a live person. That is where new technologies can really make a difference in helping customers do what they want to do as fast and effectively as possible,” added Alzubaidi.




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