Recently, several Nigerian banks activated the review option on their Facebook pages and the flood gates of good and bad comments were opened as bank customers across the country latched on the medium to express their opinions on the quality of services they got from their banks. Diamond Bank was one of them.
Before now, banks used to be products and profit-centric. But that has changed; with customers outrightly complaining if your services are not available or good enough
While the reviews were mixed, differing from one customer to another, it was strong proof that banking in Nigeria had gone beyond just paying-in and withdrawing money. It has gotten deeper and more personal. Lanre Bamisebi, Head, IT Services/CIO, Diamond Bank saw this trend.
“Before, banks used to be products and profit-centric. But now, if your services are not available or good enough, the customer would complain,” he told TechCity.
Agreeing with his tech team lead, Uzoma Dozie, CEO, Diamond Bank added that banking is no longer aimed at sharing wallets, it’s now ‘share of life’ because banking is just a very small part of it.
“For us to provide you with that great service, we need to know more about your life and digitalization helps us to do that,” he told TechCity in his office in Lagos.
According to him, digitalization is about making things easier for people, giving people the opportunity to choose how they do things.
“I like to call it ‘self service’. I want to do my banking, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, wherever I am with as little friction as possible,” he said.
Digitalization is about making things easier for people, giving people the opportunity to choose how they do things.
The Digital Evolution
While the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to throw its full weight behind the cashless policy is widely regarded as the turning point for digital banking in Nigeria, retired accountants, former and current bank employees and other custodians of Nigerian banking history told TechCity that digitalization predates the cashless policy. According to them, it all started when banks began to talk about going paperless.
“I started working in the banking sector when you couldn’t access your account in other branches other than the one where you opened it because of the fact that there were limited ways of sharing information recorded and kept on paper. Dealing with this issue, I strongly believe, was what changed everything in the banking sector,” says Peter Ademuyiwa, a retired bank employee.
It wasn’t only the banks and its employees that were interested in the paperless regime in Nigeria, major tech companies were also looking closely, especially Microsoft Corporation. Theresa Adeyinka, Senior Account Executive, Microsoft Nigeria, revealed that the company was aware of the new interest of the banks.
“I remember some years ago when they said they wanted to go paperless. That only speaks to a lot of things they wanted to do with technology – how they want their customers and employees to engage and collaborate and Microsoft has always been behind all of these initiatives,” she told TechCity.
Internal Social Struggle
For Dozie and other bank CEOs, aggressive expansion meant increase in the number of employees, thus making it almost impossible for the leadership to know everything that is going at all levels and being able to communicate with them [one of the numerous attributes of good leaders] became unrealistic.
More so, bank workers are also active users of social media as there are numerous social media posts describing how bank workers attending to angry and impatient customers update their Facebook statuses, follow trends like #BAAD2017 on Twitter, read Linda Ikeji‘s blog, make fun of Speed Darlington, and rant about Bobrisky on Instablog9ja.
They also post recycled cake pictures on their friends’ pages during birthdays – and are on the lookout for the most important VIP who will wish them well when they add another year, probably their bank’s CEO.
Microsoft latched on this for Diamond Bank. It had conversations with the bank’s CEO and the leadership team around two types of engagement – employee engagement and customer engagement.
“We really wanted a way to foster collaboration between the leadership of the company and the general employees. Prior to now, they had a premise communication and messaging system. But we talked to them about the values of Office 365 and collaboration tools like Yammer and Skype for Business to drive engagement with their team. We started with a pilot of Yammer and that really went really well. Within a month, they got thousands of employees collaborating and working together. Next was Skype for Business, Enterprise Voice and Skype for Business Broadcast. The reaction was amazing. He (Dozie) was able to engage with his teams in a really powerful way,” says Wale Olokodana, Enterprise Commercial Lead at Microsoft Nigeria.
“I love Yammer a lot. Every morning, my alarm goes off – it’s time to wish someone happy birthday. People are able to express themselves and whenever anything is happening in any part of the country and beyond, we can see what is happening and be part of it,” Dozie told TechCity.
Improving Banking Services
Beyond networking and expanding reach, Bamisebi also believes that digitalization is allowing banks to make more sense of customers’ data thus allowing them to make better financial decisions.
“Nowadays, we have data of our customers. We understand how they transact their businesses so we can target them individually. We can do credit and risk ratings. From the data, you will know when a customer is doing good [and] you will [also] know when a customer is doing badly,” he said.
He admits that there will always be the desire for more functionalities which is why they are always relying on [their] vendors to meet their new needs in their product updates.
“[With] the amount of innovation that Microsoft put into their product, you can be sure that if Microsoft gives you a product, in another 2-3 years when they are going to do a revised product, you would know that most of the things you really want would have been added to the product because there is a lot of engagement even if you are using the system,” he added.
While customers often complain about issues such as delays in reversing error deductions following unsuccessful ATM transactions, delays in getting payment cards, long waiting periods in the banking hall, unsatisfactory customer service and network down times among others, Diamond Bank’s CEO revealed that while the banks are dealing with them, the company is also leveraging on digitalization to attempt to solve even more internal challenges that are at the core of the operating fibers of present day banking in Nigeria – where the customer expects and demands real-time efficiency, and inability to deliver it would result in complaints piling up on the bank’s social media pages leading to probable loss of customers.
“How do we use technology in our business to boost productivity, to improve data collaboration and product development, and how do we pass it on to our customers? How do we make it easier for them to access our services, how do we contribute to their lives beyond banking?” Dozie inquires.
In his world, as technology advances, banks can leverage on it which means they can reach more people in a cost effective manner.