Despite rapid digital progression in banking and financial services during the COVID-19 pandemic, service complaints still account for half of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) banking sector’s social media conversation.
This was among the key findings of the UAE Banking Sentiment Index, conducted by KPMG in partnership with BrandsEye, which analysed 41,430 public tweets about major UAE banks over three months. Each post received a sentiment rating — positive, neutral, or negative. These scores were then used to calculate a Net Sentiment ranking for each bank.
Goncalo Traquina, Partner, KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “The boundaries between front and back offices are blurring and banks are becoming closer to their customers, driven to innovate by the insights they gain. Customer-centric banks today are structuring their operations in new and exciting ways. The UAE Banking Sentiment Index highlights how customer service responsiveness can be a competitive differentiator, translating into greater profitability. It is, therefore, crucial to build trust and sustain value through all customer experiences and interactions.”
In the past year, the UAE’s Central Bank has taken action to strengthen consumer protection in the financial services sector. Additionally, organisations are operating in an increasingly competitive business landscape and the entry of new, digital-only players has highlighted the need for banks to make digital service a foundational enabler of their operating models and supply chain.
In terms of communication channels, call centres were mentioned most frequently (51.8%) and also had the highest levels of negative sentiment (-84.8%) on social media. Interestingly, while mobile apps ranked fourth in terms of frequency of mentions, they had the least negative sentiment, with many banking customers complimenting the user-friendliness of this channel.
Turnaround (wait) time was the largest pain point for customers. Nearly half (44%) of customer service complaints received had long wait times at their core. This was followed by reports of no response being received (22.4%) and the issue of dealing with multiple customer service agents (9.5%) to get assistance. The report also found that banks do not respond to over a third of priority conversations and take an average of 13 hours to respond to direct conversations.
The top three topics that dominated the share of conversations were customer service, reputation and products, with negative sentiments of 92%, 75% and 90%, respectively.
Managing online reputation is critical for business success. The report reveals that, based on their own positive experience, customers were more proactive with referring their bank to peers. If they were happy, they encouraged others to use their own bank’s services and conversely, dissuaded others from choosing their banks if they were not satisfied.
Nic Ray, CEO, BrandsEye, concluded: “COVID-19 has forced many consumers to turn to digital channels, such as social media, to contact their banks for assistance. As consumers increasingly expect the same standard of service across all channels and providers, there is a business imperative for banks to rapidly evolve their customer service efforts on social media platforms.”