BY BABAJIDE KOMOLAFE
Since 1992, thousands of companies around the world have set aside the first full week in October each year to celebrate the Customer Service Week. The week-long celebration is traditionally devoted to recognising the significance of customer service and to honouring the people who serve and support customers with the highest degree of care and professionalism.
Leading financial, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, hospitality and communications companies as well as other service-oriented organisations around the world join the celebration.
In recognition of the value of the customer to the continued existence and growth of the organisation and the need to always put the customer first in all areas of its operations, First Bank of Nigeria Plc decided to embrace the annual Customer Service Week -and it has done so with a passion that is second to none in Nigeria today.
This should come as no surprise to industry watchers because the secret to the bank’s emergence as the “clear leader and Nigeria’s bank of first choice,” has been unmatched service delivery.
Consistent service delivery
Obviously, doing business for over 117 years and still going strong in a fiercely competitive environment has been no mean feat. The route to such an achievement is none other than consistency in the provision of unparalleled service levels to the bank’s diverse mix of customers.
Indeed, First Bank continues to thrive where others are struggling or have completely dropped out of the race for survival by developing world-class institutional processes, systems and capabilities and constantly re-inventing itself.
In the words of Mrs. Morohunke Bammeke, Group Head, Operations, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, the Customer Service Week gives the bank an opportunity to celebrate “our customers for making us their Bank of first choice and giving us the privilege to serve.”
She adds that FirstBank will continue to innovate and remain ahead of competition because of the “refreshing and innovative changes in the Bank right from the profile of our people to the efficiency of our processes.”
Bammeke says FirstBank is known for its unique products and services that are always designed to meet the peculiar needs of every customer. She adds that the Bank empowers its employees with new tools to facilitate work in and out of office. “This ensures speedy response to customer requests, while giving all tiers of management hitch-free access to qualitative and timely information for decision-making and strong risk management.”
A call at the bank’s Head Office branch in Marina, Lagos, showed how customers are given a warm welcome with the brand’s promise boldly displayed – Friendly, Innovative, Reliable, Smart and Thoughtful, FIRST.
The Bank’s friendly brand colours combine professionally to usher customers warmly into the banking premises. The bank has an ATM gallery that offers unique services including cash deposits and the biometric machine – the first in Nigeria – which gives users the ultimate experience in terms of reliability, security and convenience.
The array of ATMs are supported by e-banking platforms that customers desirous of self-service can avail themselves of. The clear statement is that First Bank is creating a new experience within its banking halls by improving their ambience and creating a friendlier environment for customers to enjoy hitch-free transactions.
The Bank’s efforts are not lost on its customers, who are unanimous in commending FirstBank for remaining a symbol of safety, dependability, security, dynamism and service.
Yushawu Ahmed, a customer of the bank who said he has both personal and corporate accounts with the bank says he chose First Bank because ‘it offers security of funds.’
Ahmed is not just interested in a bank where his funds are safe. He lauds First Bank for its humane service delivery. ‘First Bank is changing positively,’ he says adding that the trend is indicative of an organization that is responsive to the needs of its customers.
Kingsley Obodoechina, another customer of the bank thumbs up the bank for its speed. ‘I love this bank not just for the quality of service delivery, but the speed at which it is delivered.’ This accounts for the high level of customer loyalty the bank enjoys.
Adebayo Oretan an employee of one of the law enforcement agencies who maintains several accounts with First Bank ‘is fully satisfied with First Bank.’
He makes an example of his experience at hand. ‘Look something just happened to me. I came to the bank to draw from the ATM, but the machine would not dispense money, saying my card had been reported stolen. I just called the attention of one the employees on hand and he attended to me swiftly and resolved the situation. As I talk to you, I am certain that I will draw my money in the next few minutes. That’s how good my bank is,’ he says.
On other reasons why he is so passionate about his bank, Oretan says, ‘I am a salary earner. When salary is paid, First Bank notifies me through SMS and I can draw immediately, while my other colleagues are still waiting for their banks to clear. My Bank makes me proud and I can make my financial plans with confidence.”
Bammeke says that customers can continue looking forward to the same standard of service in all parts of Nigeria saying, ‘the great news is that the ongoing transformation continues across the Bank’s branches nation-wide.’ She maintains that the bank has plans to deliver quality service to all segments of the population including those who would rather not call at the branches, the e-generation.
She says that ‘to drive channel migration and optimization,’ alternative banking channels have been provided as convenient alternatives for customers who would rather not go to a branch. Something that keeps delighting customers is that they are assured of the same quality of service by calling at the bank or using the e-platforms provided by the bank.