The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Navigating towards customer experience excellence

Sunday, 17 September 2023, 12:18 Last update: about 10 months ago

Kenneth Farrugia & Theodoros Papadopoulos

At Bank of Valletta we are committed to provide our customers with an enhanced and holistic service that puts them first. Our mission is to create positive and memorable interactions that make our customers feel valued, empowered and eager to share their stories of exceptional service.

We understand that our customers have different preferences and that is why we offer various touch points that cater for different customer needs and scenarios. For those who value the human touch, we have physical channels such as branches, corporate centre, business centres, investment centres, customer service centre and a wealth management arm. Here, our customers expect to have meaningful conversations with knowledgeable staff, fast turnaround of service, swift response times and quick resolution. We have been very active in this sphere, invested in our people, extended branch opening hours, introduced priority opening times for senior citizens and improved internal processes to make banking more efficient and easier. We are also in the process of upgrading our branches to provide a more comfortable and modern environment.

At the other end, our digital channels offer a range of convenient and secure banking services for customers who prefer to access their accounts anytime and anywhere. Whether it is through our extensive network of ATMs, our payment cards, our internet banking or mobile banking app, we strive to enhance the user experience and the accessibility of our digital platforms. We have introduced several features and innovations to make banking easier, such as:

·         a cash recycling feature in our ATMs, which reduces the downtime for cash replenishment and an upgrade in ATM screens to a more modern and user-friendly interface;

·         a digital home loan portal that gives total control to customers to calculate how much they can borrow, get accurate quotes and apply for their home loan online. Additionally, customers can also hold online meetings with our home loan specialists – reducing the need to visit a branch physically;

·         an online appointment booking system which is currently being piloted at select branches, where customers can book appointments directly from their phone or computer without having to call or email us;

·         digital signatures for several services, reducing the need for customers to visit our outlets physically.

One of our regulatory obligations is to keep our customers’ data updated. We know that it may not be easy for our customers to visit our branches, so we developed a digital application allowing customers to update their personal information online. Within a month of its launch, around 5,000 customers used this online service! That means 5,000 customers who saved time and hassle by not having to visit a branch.

We also recognise that not everyone is a financial wizard, and as a bank we play a critical role in fostering financial education in Malta. It is with this responsibility in mind that we constantly run education campaigns through various channels. Topics vary from financial scams awareness to budgeting, travel tips, digital banking, loans and how to decrease cheque usage, among others. Our aim is to empower our customers with the right knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions.

So how do we balance all these channels and initiatives? How do we align innovation with customer expectations? The answer is simple: listening to customers. Through our Voice of the Customer programme, we collect customer feedback about their experience with us and use it to make changes and improvements where necessary. Last year, over 24,000 customers participated in this initiative and this year we are taking it even further by co-designing solutions and testing them with our customers, right from the start. This ensures that every innovation, every change we make truly resonates with our customers and meets their needs and expectations.

We believe that keeping in close contact with our customers is crucial. Customer engagement is not a one-off event, but an ongoing process. During October we celebrate Customer Experience Week, where we acknowledge the importance of customer service and introduce initiatives aimed at improving customer experience. We also take the opportunity to continue instilling a customer-centric mindset within our staff. This year will be the second time we join other institutions worldwide to celebrate the importance of customers – after all, our customers are the only reason why we exist!

These are just a few of the incremental steps we are taking in this journey; small steps that contribute to the overall improvement that we are seeking. We know that at times we may fall short and that despite our best efforts, we do not meet all our customers’ expectations. However, our commitment to constantly improve remains unshaken. The pursuit of customer excellence is not an easy task. We will continue to work hard and focus our efforts to make our customers’ experience remarkable, so that Bank of Valletta truly remains the bank of choice.

 

Kenneth Farrugia is CEO and

Theodoros Papadopoulos, chief Digital officer at Bank of Valletta

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