The banking industry in the country has 'failed' to meet expectations of customers, according to the findings of a research study released on Thursday.
The study showed that the number of 'unsatisfied' bank clients has been increasing gradually.
Over 1.6 million or 12.5 per cent of the account holders closed their accounts in 2017 due to 'unsatisfactory' services, it found.
The customer exit rate was 8.6 per cent, 9.42 per cent and 11.64 per cent in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, according to the study findings.
The Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) conducted the study on 'Sustainability in Service Quality and Customers Conformity: Drivers of Customers Loyalty to Banks'.
It covered 27 banks and 620 randomly-selected respondents.
The study analysed 22 factors of customer expectation and service delivery in the banking system.
It was done to know whether the banks' service delivery satisfied their target groups or not.
Among others, the research considered factors like modern/up-to-date equipment, physical facilities, well-dress/neatness of the employees, materials associated with the service, and key promises by the bankers.
Besides, it also analysed factors like willingness to help the customers, showing sincere interest, performing service rightly, keeping accurate records, spontaneous and self-motivated employees, employee behaviour, and commitment to service.
Following the study, banking sector experts and professionals called for paying more attention to the changing attitude of bankers in dealing with the clients.
It is needed to overcome the mismatch between expectations and service delivery.
In none of these 22 factors the service delivery to the customers "crosses expectations," said BIBM associate professor Dr. Mohammad Tajul Islam.
He was disclosing the findings of the study.
"It indicates that the banking industry has failed to meet the customers' expectations in all aspects."
Citing the report's findings, he said the number of closed accounts is rising gradually.
But 56 per cent of the banks do not conduct any interview to know the reasons of their signing out, he added.
"Even 99 per cent of banks do not maintain any customer track record," he said.
"The commercial banks can reduce their customer exit rate by ensuring a better relationship with them," he observed.
The number of customer complaints also rose significantly over the years.
A total of 1,033 complaints were received by the commercial banks in 2015 while 1,393 in 2016, and 2,050 in 2017.
Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trust Bank Limited Faruk Mainuddin Ahmed said the study found that the customers are not happy with the banking hours, which is very surprising.
He said the customers are still unsatisfied, although the transaction time has been expanded from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Mr. Ahmed called upon the Financial Integrity and Customer Services Department (FICSD) of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) to analyse the merit of the complaints.
The major portion of the complaints comes from defaulter borrowers, he noted.
To regain trust of the customers, he suggested reducing dependence on the services based on human-interaction and promoting technology-based service delivery.
Professor at the Department of Marketing of the Dhaka University (DU) Dr. Md. Mizanur Rahman said the bankers need to be professional.
They should be given proper training keeping in mind the requirements of the customers.
"We're probably more interested in product innovation, and unfortunately least focused on market and process innovation."
He termed the unhealthy competition in the banking system a major concern.
He said the number of banks is quite high in view of the size of the economy and still new banks are coming in.
"Some of the banks are giving undue advantages to the customers to cope with the tough competition," he opined.
MD of Bangladesh Krishi Bank Ali Hossain Prodhania said around 60 per cent of the complaints are related with compliance.
"I investigated 50 complaints that our bank received. Of those, I noted only two as (genuine) complaints," he said.
He also highlighted the importance of dealing with the 'priority' customers in a planned way, so that the general customers do not feel neglected.
Former Deputy Governor of the BB Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said the customers do not come to a bank seeing its building.
Rather, they come to the bank to avail services from the people working there, he added.
He said there are many customers who change their banks, once the bankers they are close to move elsewhere.
"That is the quality of a banker. A banker needs to be a good public relations officer," he stated.
"The banks should train their employers in such a way," he added.
Former Professor of Department of Economics at DU Dr Barkat-e-Khuda, BIBM Director General Dr. Toufic Ahmad Choudhury and BIBM Professor Dr. Prashanta Kumer Banerjee, among others, spoke at the function.
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