After I wrote the article on Bank Queues: Banks should sensitize their customers I received some feedback on people’s experiences at different banks. Banks that topped the list on various issues include Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Co-Operative Bank, and Barclays Bank. The issues raised were those around customer care, queue management, speed, cost, and trust.
Generally the banks have improved their customer care at their branches and through phone calls but for some reason they have not embraced public presence in social media. Majority of young urban Kenyans have lately preferred to sort their issues with the corporate world online via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, online chats, etc. Although banks such as Equity have tried to have a reliable customer care presence in social media, generally they together with other banks still lag behind in proper utilization of social media to serve customers. In this regard I won’t advice anyone to avoid any bank strictly based on online presence but I would call upon all the banks to increase their presence online.
Banks with long queues are said to be Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Barclays Bank and Co-operative bank in that order. Kenya Commercial Bank is the only one that has tried to at least work on its queues by implementing Electronic Queue Management System. If you happen to visit a KCB branch with EQMS, you’ll be required to visit their booking booth, select the service you want, you get issued with a waiting card, and you join the waiting “queue” as the electronic voice calls on customers according to their card number. The card number also gives you an approximate waiting time, a very important metric in managing anxiety. However, KCB tellers are still the slowest in service delivery time; they tend to take way too long with one customer leading to longer waiting time.
Equity Bank, although their telllers tend to be faster than the other banks, have the longest queues. If there is a bank you need to avoid solely based on queues not only in the bank branch but also in the ATM points, it is Equity Bank. The next bank you should avoid due to their queues would be KCB, then Co-operative Bank then Barclays bank. Barclays bank should be avoided at all cost during school opening as most schools decided to have bank accounts with them. Their servicing time is also not fast enough.
I still recommend for these banks to sensitize their customers on the need to largely adopt virtual banking services especially m-banking in order to significantly reduce the sizes of their queues.
As alluded to above, tellers in these banks are not fast enough. For some reasons the tellers are not recruited based on how fast they are with computers. I remember visiting Co-operative bank Ukilima branch where I was served by a teller who spent close to 30 seconds every time he wanted to press a key on the keyboard. How would a bank employ a teller not familiar with positions of keys on a keyboard?
The other contributing factor to speed of service delivery is the bank’s entire electronic system for managing the transactions. By system service KCB still lags behind. With KCB it is not just the electronic system but their bureaucracy of validating transactions too. I remember there was a time I mistakenly transferred money through my mobile phone to an account holder with KCB instead of transferring the amount to my wife’s Co-operative bank account. I called my bank and they informed me that the transaction will be reversed in 36 hours. But I wanted to also verify with KCB if the account that received the transference was a valid account. They told me that the account is not valid but advised me that their system requires a three to six months wait before an invalid transaction similar to what I did is reversed. Why would a bank require more than three months to verify a transaction in this age of digital technology?
The bank to avoid when it comes to slow tellers and slow systems is KCB.
Thanks to Equity Bank the cost of banking services have come down remarkably. Before Equity Bank one could not have a basic savings account that had no bank charges levied on them. Although the cost of banking has reduced, Barclays Bank still feel that they should have some hidden charges on their accounts. I have two personal experiences:
I opened an ordinary savings account with Barclays Bank back in 2010. I deposited money about three to four times then later decided to withdraw everything. Knowing that the account had zero maintenance fees, I did not bother to check my bank balance for about three months; only to receive a bank statement at the end of the third month showing that I had a negative balance of close to 3K.
The second experience was with this joint account that I opened with two of my friends. We requested to open an ordinary savings joint account that had zero maintenance fees. At the account opening we deposited 6K but when we went to deposit the second batch of our savings we were told we had a balance of shs 1500.
What makes me mad is that in the two occasions I specifically enquired if the accounts indeed had zero maintenance fees and no hidden charges, enquiries they confirmed to be so. After these experiences Barclays Bank will never be trusted by me.
Then at that time Barclays Bank had this absurd requirement of a commission for their forex services. I remember wanting to exchange $100 into shillings so I went to town and given that Barclays Bank was the closest branch from where I was dropped, I decided to have the dollars exchanged by them. Initially I had logged online and found out that generally exchange bureaus were buying dollars at roughly Shs 79. When I looked at the exchange rates on display at Barclays I got shocked that they were buying at Shs 72. Further enquiries revealed that they would charge me another Shs 300 for the service.
I walked out of the bank, went to Co-op Bank, exchanged my $100 at Shs 81, paid no commission, and went home happy; well not so happy as Equity was buying dollars at Shs 82 and at no commission.
Generally Barclays Bank is the Bank to avoid when it comes to trust. You can’t trust them with providing you with the correct information at account opening, and you can’t trust them with the service charges. For some reason they will always have some hidden commission or charges for some accounts/transactions.
The other bank to avoid
I have liked Co-op bank for a very long time. I liked their ever creative ads, and I liked the fact that they were able to cash in a cheque I once had within minutes instead of the normal four days by then. But last month my partner and I opened a corporate account at their Migori branch. The account was to be active within one week. It is now turning two months and the damn bank has not even done company search to verify that we are registered. The mess is so big that we cannot withdraw the cheques we deposited in the course of the last two months to continue with business. Their inaction could potentially lead to a crumble of our ambitious startup.
Co-operative bank, before they sort out our corporate account issue, is the bank to avoid as a startup.
- Equity is the bank to avoid when it comes to endless queues
- KCB is the bank to avoid on matters speed
- You can’t trust Barclays with your money; just avoid it altogether.
- Starups, Co-operative bank is the bank to avoid if you intend to open your first startup account.