I have been a client at KCB for the past five years. If you ask me why I chose it over the others, I couldn’t tell you. What I know is that I was supposed to have a bank account before I could be eligible for the Helb Loans. KCB for some strange reason is what I ended up with and where I have been stuck till today. It was only after I was required to actually use this bank account that I realized why better research at the initial stage was important.
KCB was good at first. But that may be because I did not know any better. I had no problems with it until the first time I went to Barclays Bank to deposit my University fees. The lines at Barclays would always be twice as long as those at KCB especially at the beginning of every semester or back to school season but then the Barclays lines would be cleared twice as fast as those at KCB. I was always in constant wonderment at how this could be possible. Whenever I was depositing money at Barclays, I would not even talk or care to talk to the person next in line because we were in and out. It was different at KCB because even with half as long lines, I would wait in line for long enough to introduce myself to the girl in front of me, ask her to marry me and maybe even have our first baby. I exaggerate but you get the point.
The funny thing was that every time I was in line at KCB, the next guy or lady would be complaining about one thing or the other. It was either the cashiers who were too slow, the empty cashier slots whereas there were too many of us out here, the day that this or that happened to me here and many similar stories. Many of us became too familiar friends as we complained and then conversed in these lines. And when people become friends while complaining about you, you know you are in trouble as a business. As a company, you do not want relationships developed around complaints about you. Such has been the case with KCB and I was all too happy when they introduced that thing at the door to get feedback on consumer satisfaction.
“That thing” was a board with two tubes stuck on it and two colour sets of balls (red and green) in a basket thingy just beside the tubes. On top of the red tube was written “not satisfied” and on top of the green one were the words “satisfied” or some variation of the terms. The idea was that if you were either satisfied or dissatisfied with the services you received, you would pick either of the balls and drop them in their respective tubes. This was great on several levels.
That was great in as far as it took us from the tedious and seemingly worthless job of using the suggestion box to report our displeasures with the slow service. But was it sufficient?
The Short answer is No? The long answer is that things are always more complex than yes and no and here is the real deal.
As a business, you need to know why your customer is either happy or dissatisfied with your services. You need to know this so that you can know what to improve on, what is working fine, and what you really suck at. The colour Red tells you that you are in Danger and Green that you are good to go; the only questions are, from what and go where? More important for you to continue seeing green and avoiding red is to understand the motivations behind the feedback. A better feedback mechanism would be as fast as this tube thingy that KCB came up with but which also allowed views to be expressed so that KCB would know for sure where their consumers took issue with them. Otherwise, you’ve got to wonder how these coloured balls communicated to the KCB management the various reasons behind their being dropped in the columns.
Lucky for KCB and the rest of the companies that use similar formats for feedback is that they now have social media to turn to. Whereas I dropped the red ball a couple of times and the green ball only once, I have never gotten a chance to explain the reasoning behind decision. I have done a bit that here, today, and I bet that this will be useful in pointing KCB in the right direction. For other banks, the same is happening with your consumers like Wanjiku who takes issue with Family Finance and Barclays Bank here while Bankelele might be the only banker we have no quarrels with. Many more people are increasingly raising their complaints about your bank and some passing their compliments to your brand, services, or packages etc through social media. And by its very nature, social media allows companies to respond to these mentions in real time basis; but only if they are paying attention to conversations about them online. They should.
Given the nature of the banking industry, their engagement in social media is bound to be held back by legalities and bureaucracy. But all companies need to cultivate the capacity to listen to conversation online especially when such listening threatens to be agonizing to their brands. Standard Bank Group has dipped its feet into the social media pool with a blog and twitter account and the reactions to this in twitter among other social forums have been exceptional. KCB and every other Kenyan Bank should take note and join in.
Hit me back with your reactions in the comments section.