Recently I had to change banks because the one I was banking with is apparently going under. And Their customer care service is at its worst, but that’s not the issue; I was essentially told by the executives at the top that they couldn’t let me withdraw my money (we’re talking small middle income amounts here) and that I should stop pestering them. But that’s still a story for another day. I decided to change to a more solid traditional bank. One of those that have been around since as far back as we can all remember. The ones we always run back to.
The choice was a careful one; they had to have the best internet banking. They had to be ahead of the curve with mobile money. Well, middle of the curve would be fine really seeing no bank would qualify on being ahead. But anyway, the choice was made and I submitted to the painful process: passport photos, proof of residence, affidavit for that, employer letter, spouse’s documents etc… It’s a process you don’t want to do again anytime soon so you feel loosely locked in, hoping for a decent experience.
It didn’t come. The decent experience I hoped for that is. I was told soon after opening the account that they were not doing internet banking for new clients until further notice! It’s been 2 months, still no notice. I was also told, even though I was in the same branch, I couldn’t join the shorter queues because, technically, the shorter queue tellers couldn’t do transactions on my type of account. Yes, “same bank branch but yours are these long queues here”. Ironically, I thought I had the preferred type of account!
It doesn’t end there. Customer care is about 3 on a 1 – 10. The place is busy. The staff impatient and occasionally blurting out unacceptables like “hey, I told you that already. Next!”, only to adjust to a neutral artificial tone when you object. It’s almost as if they know you’re loosely locked in with them. Or that they know they’d have enough business anyway even if you voted with your feet. So take it or leave it!
There’s not been a single time that I have walked into an EcoCash agent and gotten the take it or leave it attitude. It’s clear why; EcoCash is a platform. The agents are small businesses just hooking into a platform. It’s up to them to treat the customers well and get to keep more of the commissions Econet shares with them. If they don’t, there’s another agent just down the road and they lose that transaction!
They are not a big bank. They are not a big mobile operator. Even though they are essentially the face of Econet, the agents are not Econet. In terms of customer care that’s what makes the EcoCash model so different and frankly, one I would prefer even for my savings if they officially took deposits. Small depositors getting personal, friendly, and honest service from small businesses.
Yes, at the end of the day there’s still one big company at the top, but there’s some measure of power to choose that customers get in that food chain. It is power customers don’t have with traditional bank branches.