UAE banks need to improve online customer support

You're better off banking with First Gulf Bank if you appreciate online customer service or RAKBank, at a pinch. That's the finding of a survey that shows UAE banks often fail to provide any level of online customer support at all, with only 30% of online inquiries being answered by an email or follow-up call.

In fact, the level of attention provided by UAE banks to their online depositors shows a worrying performance gap in customer service that is somewhat offset by the ease-of-navigation, availability of information and visual flare of the sites.
Researchers from Ethos, an online consulting firm, found in their 2009 Bank Benchmarking Study that of 270 inquiries submitted to a number of banks in the UAE, only around 30% received any follow-up. Despite room for improvement in online performance, the study showed a marked improvement in the satisfaction of customers handled in branches, rising from 69% last year to 78%. According to Ethos, the results of this part of the study show a pragmatic shift in banks' attitudes towards clients, opting to retain customers rather than focus on acquisition at the expense of churn in 2008.

Although banks were found to lag in the time taken to answer customer calls and waiting time, they were applauded for their contact center performance. The biggest two challenges facing the banks now, according to Ethos, are the collection and management of customer data and the ability to cross-sell existing accounts. First Gulf Bank held its position in the study as number one in Web site performance for the second year, with RAKBank credited with the best overall performance for the fourth year in row.
One notable new crossover between online and offline banking announced recently that is a boost to customer service is powered by Raqmiyat. The service allows banking customers to scan a check and have the balance credited to their account without visiting the branch. Personally, I think this concept is one of the best banking convenience services to have emerged recently. It's similar in function to the USAA application for the iPhone.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.