Bank strives to be better than expected

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am

Customer service

HONG KONG'S BANKING industry is making every effort to cater for the needs of customers in today's increasingly competitive environment.

The focus at Standard Chartered Bank is to serve and 'outserve' with superior services.

Its Outserve programme, a global initiative in place since 2003, has proven to be a successful customer service enhancement exercise, for which the bank was named as the grand award winner in the customer service category this year.

Betty Ng, head of customer experience management for consumer banking, said the award was a very encouraging acknowledgement and served as a reminder for the bank to keep improving its service to customers.

'The recognition indicates that we are on the right track and that we probably outperform our competitors.

'For us, quality customer service means not only fulfilling customer needs but exceeding customer expectations,' she said.

'Customer service today is very different from the past. It should be a comprehensive programme with clear goals and objectives and involve the participation of staff at all levels.'

Ms Ng said the bank sought to differentiate itself with the breadth and depth of the Outserve programme that managed services in six key aspects - voice of customer, process re-engineering, service culture, complaint management, customer loyalty management and metric and measurement.

'We value the feedback from clients and try our best to identify what customers really need through regular surveys and customer luncheons every year,' she said.

'One of the core values of Standard Chartered Bank is that we want to be the right partner of our customers and our core focus is to delight our customers with the quality of our services.'

With process re-engineering, the bank seeks to provide quality and efficient service that exceeds customers' expectations.

The Outserve programme has the management's full support and covers the service standard of staff in every department.

The top management of the bank also has the opportunity to experience serving customers together with frontline staff at the programme's 'first hand day' activities.

'The management has to offer service pledges with their experience to improve operations further.

'This really helps inspire and strengthen team spirit among staff,' Ms Ng said.

'Through service storming sessions, frontline staff are being encouraged to put forward new ideas to serve customers better.

'We also organise best practice sharing and company visits for our staff to learn from one another and from other industry players.'

Ms Ng said the bank was able to keep track of its service performance and customer satisfaction with well-defined processes and comprehensive measurement systems, such as regular surveys.

She said the Outserve philosophy had become an essential part of the service culture in the bank and the company was determined to carry forward the progressive thinking to enhance its service standard.

Because competition in the banking industry is becoming increasingly vigorous and customers are more demanding, Standard Chartered considers continuous improvement to be an ongoing initiative for its business.

'Customers placing their assets with us are looking for quality and efficient service.

'At the same time, we have to put in place sufficient risk and control measures to provide secure service,' Ms Ng said.

'We have to strike a good balance between risk and control, and the delivery of quality service efficiently and professionally so that our customers can sleep well at night.'

Through the Outserve programme, she said the bank would continue to upgrade its services to ensure good customer experience.

'We are always forward looking, anticipating our customers' needs and raising our own bar.

'Outserve Plus is the new phase exercise of our programme in 2007, with the focus on further Process re-engineering to enhance customer service.'

Extra efforts would be made to improve operational excellence and customer segmentation, which were designed to review and streamline the work flow and provide tailor-made banking services to each customer.

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And the judges said:

Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) won the grand award in the customer service category for its 'comprehensive and well-balanced' customer service proposal, said Ruth Yu, executive director, Hong Kong Retail Management Association. She said the bank's 'Outserve' programme had received the approval of the judging panel. 'The overall proposal is very comprehensive and well balanced with clear objectives and strategic implementation plans,' she said. 'The actual achievements are also impressive. The bank has put in place a monitoring system and assessment mechanism to measure the achievements and effectiveness.'

Ms Yu said the programme had contributed to significant improvements in customer satisfaction as well as business revenues and helped Standard Chartered Bank maintain a high customer loyalty. 'The most impressive thing is the bank's total commitment and involvement that extends from the top management to frontline staff to enhance customer service,' she said.

Entries for the customer service category came from companies in different sectors, ranging from banking, hotel and property management to home furnishing, jewellery, telecommunications, department store and travel and food businesses. Ms Yu said the companies had demonstrated outstanding performance in customer service improvement.