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Introduction

Most business relationships are initiated with a phone call. For most organisations, the telephone is often the first contact with existing customers and sometimes the only point of contact with prospective clients. It can potentially make or break a business relationship. When customers call, they expect an undivided attention. They don't want to be kept waiting, they need prompt answers and they need to trust the information they receive is accurate. Unfortunately many businesses in Ghana suffer loss of clients needlessly because of poor telephone practices and the banking industry is no exception. When customers fail to resolve simple issues because of poor telephone practices, they are forced to visit banking halls needlessly. This undoubtedly contributes to excessive queuing in banking halls leading to excessive pressure on retail banking staff. It also increases cost of doing business especially for customers, and may discourage prospective clients from opening new accounts or existing ones from operating their accounts. Ultimately sales and profits are affected.
The Banking Industry Telephone Efficiency Index (The BITE index) was designed to measure and benchmark corporate telephone practices in the banking industry (at the branch level). Define key challenges prospective and existing customers face when attempting to access information & basic services over official telephones. And identify industry players that have superior corporate telephone practices. Quantitative data was collected over a seven-month period (June 2016 to January 2017) using telephone mystery shopping technique. A total of 650 phone calls were made to 211 branches selected from 23 commercial banks. The researchers selected between 8 to 10 branches of each sampled bank. The selected banks were: Access Bank, ADB Bank, Barclays Bank, BoA, BSIC, CAL Bank, Capital Bank, Ecobank, Energy Bank, FBN Bank, Fidelity Bank, GCB Bank, GN Bank, GT Bank, HFC Bank, NIB Bank, Prudential Bank, SG Bank, Stanchart, UBA, UMB Bank, uniBank, UT Bank.
The categories:

  1. Response Rate: Percentage of phone calls answered by the intended recipients.
  2. Telephone Etiquette: Professionalism and courtesies with which telephone calls are handled including call transfers.
  3. Product Knowledge & Presentation Skills: Ability to present information clearly and answer follow-up questions confidently.
  4. Pricing Information Consistency: Degree of variation or similarities on fees presented on services provided to prospective clients across various branches

The study acknowledges that there are other portals of communication such as websites, live chats, social media, print and electronic media. Nevertheless, it'll be a tragic error to overlook the unique advantages voice communication offers including being relatively cheaper, easier, and convenient means of communication for most people.

Summary Results

Response Rate

The results showed that out of the 650 phone calls made during the study, only 135 were answered. Meaning that for every 100 attempted phone calls clients make to banking institutions, only 21 (representing 21%) are successful. 37% failed to connect due to several technical glitches and 42% were simply ignored. HFC Bank scored the highest response rate. Out of the 21% successfully connected phone calls, the study went further to analyse 3 other categories such as phone etiquette, product knowledge & presentation skills, pricing information consistency.

Telephone Etiquette

The industry average for telephone Etiquette was 59%, suggesting that approximately 2 out of 3 branches communicated with clients professionally. However, major challenges were identified with phone transfer and holds as well as other specific key indicators. Access Bank scored the highest in this category with (89%).

Product Knowledge & Presentation Skills

Frontline staff ability to successfully convert prospects to successful sales partly depends on how well-informed and confidence with which they communicate product and services to clients. The industry average was 83% and two banks namely: CAL Bank & FBNBank topped the pack with 99% apiece.

Pricing Information Consistency

When prospective clients request for information about prices, they expect the figures they receive to be reliable. When different branches of the same company quote different fees, it erodes confidence and negatively impacts the banks reputation and customer loyalty. Pricing information consistency was measured by analysing the deviations between the prices different branches of the same bank provided for opening balance/initial deposit, COT/monthly service fees, as well as e-banking services charges. However, there's also approximately 20%chance that a branch will quote the wrong figure to a client. CAL Bank and HFC Bank provide the most consistent prices across their branches with (99.9%) accurate rate.


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