The Agony of Bank Customers in Nigeria – By Arnold A. AlaliboArnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists Sunday, August 19th, 2012
By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | August 19, 2012 - In spite of the introduction of the automated teller machine (ATM), as a way of decongesting banking halls, long queues are still experienced in most Nigerian banks.
The predicament of bank customers at the various banks is indeed irritating. Each time I have to visit a bank and consider the long wait, I get disillusioned. The development makes many customers to limit the frequency at which they visit the bank. Some have resorted to patronise thrift collectors to reduce the stress they experience each time they go to the bank.
Besides the long wait bank customers complain about, there is the issue of small banking halls which deny customers access to free movements within the banks. Some even lack basic amenities like seats, thus making customers to stand for long hours while awaiting the collection of their monies.
A cursory look into most of the banking halls reveals appalling situation in which they operate. In most of them, you will find very few cashiers, sometimes two or three, attending to large number of customers. Circumstances like this often result in brawls between clients and bank staff.
Unfortunately, some bank management care little about the plight of their clientele because they are concerned with maximising profit instead of rendering quality services.
Undue strict security measures at the entrance of most banks is another delinquent concern of customers. Sometimes, they are made to pass through harrowing experience before they could gain entry into the banks.
I thought the institution of ATM would end bank congestion in the country. I am disappointed that this is not the case, so are many Nigerians.
ATM was introduced in 2006 to solve two problems in banking administration with particular reference to the disbursement of funds to customers.
The first one is to decongest the banking halls, to enable customers walk in and out of the bank, using little time. The second is to assist customers who are in need of cash make withdrawals at any time of the day without going into the banking hall.
But because at its inception, the ATM was beset with fraud and dysfunctionality, many customers are not disposed to using it. I am one of such persons.I decided never to use it, at least for now, because I hear tales of people who have host their had earning to fraudsters.
Also, I have heard how difficult it is for the banks to detect incidents of ATM fraud.
Besides, customers often get debited when they try to use the ATM but it fails to dispense cash. Reversing the transaction is usually accompanied with stress and it could be time consuming.
Nigeria operates an essentially cash-based economy in its financial transaction. This leaves banks with the problem of having to contend with huge volume of operation daily and this translates to long queues. Managing long queues has become a major challenge for banks in the country. For a bank to remain competitive, it must cope with the time spent by customers in the banks.
My experience reveals that more time is spent in the old generation banks than it is in new generation banks.
This probably is because they have very limited staff strength most of whom are either casual workers or are students on industrial attachment.
It has become imperative for banks to understand that quick service delivery could influence choice of banks by customers. Based on these, banks should improve on time management practices. They should not admit customers above their capacity. The corporate objective of any bank is maximisation of depositors’ funds which can be achieved if customers are retained and satisfied.
Banks ought to realise that competition in the sector is getting more stiff, partly due to strong regulatory constraints of universal banking and also owing to customers’ awareness of their rights. Over time, bank customers have become increasingly demanding, as they expect nothing less than high quality and immediate service delivery. They want an improvement of value by their banks.
Unarguably, long queues in banks are a symptom of inefficiency and limited facilities. Where these factors are present, most banks are unable to satisfy demands made by their customers. The danger of keeping customers in a queue is that their waiting time may amount to a huge cost to them. The wasted time could have been judiciously utilised elsewhere.
In order to remedy the situation and make banking attractive to the common Nigerian, the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), has to improve and make the ATM fraud – proof. In other clines, ATM is the most customary means of withdrawing money. Only huge transactions take place in the banking halls.
Again, banks should establish sufficient branches and engage permanent employees who are qualified and efficient. They must be given periodic training and have to be abreast of the challenges of modern banking. If those who own and manage our banks truly understand that they are in highly competitive business, their value for customers will appreciate.
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