Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 23 March 2010

Kenyan Commercial Bank slow in service to customers


By Jacob K. Lupai

March 22, 2010 — With the advent of peace in Southern Sudan as a result of a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) signed in 2005, foreign investors have been attracted to take advantage of the CPA to do business. Among those investors who are taking advantage of the CPA is the Kenyan Commercial Bank (KCB) which has a picturesque branch at Buluk in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.

On its part Southern Sudan also encourages and welcomes investors to make a difference to the economy. Through investment jobs are created for the locals and wider opportunities are open. This all may sound rosy. However, investors at large are not philanthropists. Investors mostly aim to make a wider profit margin. It is to maximize profit even though that may inconvenience customers to some extent. The KCB is no exception as an investor with an eye on maximizing profit.

It its state of the art Buluk branch, the KCB has in all that one can say a magnificent building. In it there are 12 teller cubicles in which one is for Western Union’s customers who are either sending or receiving money. There also seems to be one teller cubicle for foreign exchange. The rest appear to be for customers who are depositing and withdrawing money. On that particular day when this author visited the KCB Buluk branch there were only four opened teller cubicles, the one for Western Union customers and three for the other customers. The rest eight teller cubicles were all closed. At least there were no tellers inside to show the cubicles were opened. The queues in the opened teller cubicles were moving at a snail’s pace to the frustration of customers.

There was no sign that the KCB was going to open the closed teller cubicles for the convenience of customers. Some customers visibly appeared frustrated. One customer tried to switch to another queue only to be the more frustrated because the queue seemed to have ground to a halt. To make matters worse the tellers were visiting each other and chatting probably to consult with each other but with less regard to customer’s prolonged waiting. Also typing a word or a number in the computer became like a learning exercise. This, however, does not just that the tellers were computer illiterate. Service was simply slow.

The question one may ask is, why have the state of the art of 12 teller cubicles but only operate 4 to the inconvenience of customers? The motive could have been to maximize profit margin by cutting down on the cost of making all the 12 tellers operational at once. If that was the case then the majestic display of the state of the art 12 teller cubicles was nothing but for customers to think that services at KCB were efficient and of high standard. Another reason could have been to have the building crowded with customers to show that the KCB was a people’s bank for potential customers to take note. However, with time it is hoped the KCB will improve its services to customers.

It should be understood that an attractive investment climate in Southern Sudan should not be a license to cause unnecessary inconvenience to customers who deserve something better. It is not strange to wait for the 30 minutes mark to be served. Customers’ convenience should be a top priority because it is the customers who are sustaining a bank’s operations. Making customers to stand in a queue for more than half an hour while most of the teller cubicles are closed makes it difficult to understand how a bank prides itself as a pioneer in Southern Sudan. There is need to open closed cubicles when customers are taking long in a queue. It could be that supervision was poor to detect customers’ frustration in a very slow queue due to congestion.

It is hoped that the KCB is also a listening bank that appreciates customers’ concerns. It is understandable that banks must make money but not at too much expense of customers. In Juba there are other banks with fewer teller cubicles but are by far much more efficient. The state of the art should not be used simply to entice customers who are then rewarded with poor service.

The author can be reached at jklupai@googlemail.com

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  • 23 March 2010 06:09, by Dinka Boy

    In most African and European countries, there are no efficient and effective customer services at all. Customers stayed in line for long,and sometimes none of the employees never pay attention to customers; they don,t greet customers rather they stay mean and bold as if there is a fight going on around. In fact, i have seen these kind of courtesies in most of African and European nations.
    The employees should be hire base on qualifications and the values to help attrack more customers. It seem that they value less about potential customers because they new nothing about the essential of customer. How come an employee talk for long while customers are waiting on line?

    The reduction of tellers windows might not about to maximize the profit,but perhaps the Bank has no more customers daily. The company like KCB and others need to have more windows opened,but if there are no more customers in most cases, then they have to shut down some windows because of the limited customers they usually received on the avearge. If KCP have to reduced teller’s windows for profit maximazation,then they should train their employees to work on the higher pace,and the managers should monitored them during their working hours so that they can not loiter between corridors.
    Yes, most African bussiness need well customer services skill so that they can understand the important of their customers.

  • 23 March 2010 15:06, by Time1

    This is the results of poor management and poor supervision, a nice looking building and equipment has nothing to do with the poor service.

    • 23 March 2010 21:47, by marie

      At least they are serving the public, though with 30-60 minutes of wait. Our bank, the NCB has made people waiting for years now to withdraw their money. I do not think we can survive on our own without the help of those foreign investors, because we are even terrible in all aspects.

    • 24 March 2010 11:01, by Lual Peter Dau

      I can not blame you brother, our people including you in Southern Sudan haven never have a Bank during the Arab colonial in the Southern.
      Bank proceedures are technical, there are same stages that bankerers took when they are processing your money of which our people did nit know.
      NCB collapse because of our ingnorance, now they are blaming KCB for a delay
      You guys when are reforming to get civilize, waiting will not prevent you from getting your money.
      Please learn to be patiant, otherwish we shall not be satisfied by any services

  • 24 March 2010 16:12, by Time1

    marie and peter

    You cannot tell us about civilization, the first African and world civilization started here in Sudan along the nile, about NCB it is just the same bad management like what we see in KCB now which let NCB down, bankers do not want to be criticise for their wrong doings, you cannot continue to take money for free from people and do not expect to be questioned. we have big banks that have collapse in big economies, do you think KCB was better than them? also the money KCB get here in south sudan they will never get it in any other of their branches in the region, am i wrong or right here? so people want good service in return for the large sums being paid to the bank, i do not want to discuss the reasons why KCB is or is not in south sudan, or if KCB has strong competitors or no, but they should allow customers to criticise them if they render pooor services, a business will improve if they listen to their custoimers and accept complains and critism, KCB is not an acception, customers have been waiting for hours and so they have the right to complain. now no one is saying KCB is bad, KCB is an excellent bank with international standards but they should let customers critises them if they do something wrong. No one is saying KCB is a bad bank, KCB is an excellent bank with international standards but they should allow customers to criticse them if they fail to give customers good service.

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