The debate about technology and its contribution to customer service will not be considered by the likes of me as fairly treated if the human factor is not given adequate consideration. I believe that whether the business environment drives a fully integrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) model through technology, the situation requires quality customer service by service providers to overcome the fast-paced, technologically challenging market environment, thereby remaining relevant in it.
It is also trite knowledge that without a human element, technology will not thrive. Human beings are the focal point in any development, and one cannot ignore the critical inclusion of humans for any socio-economic development to succeed.
What is Customer Service?
According to Teresa, A. (2023), “Customer service is the support you offer your customers the moment they first contact your business to the months and years afterward.” Leon Gorman reiterated that customer service is just day in, day out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, and compassionate activity. Additionally, customer service is how you treat the people who support your company. These can be paying customers (external customers) or staff members (internal customers).
This treatment which forms part of the service that is being offered by a company or a business was until the advent of technology purely human driven with humans at the forefront. Over the past four or so decades and particularly since the introduction of the internet, the service equation, as one may call it, has seen an increasing role played by machines, AI and the internet with humans, in some cases, hiding in the background.
Improvements Through Technology
From my personal experience based on my 34-year banking career, computers were uncommon in the 80s and ledgers were balanced manually daily. The attendant challenges were scenes of queues in banking halls, restricted access to cash because Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were not in existence, no 24/7 contact centers, and no “Cash-In-Transit” (CIT). All these impacted customer service negatively. However, through technology customer service delivery has seen remarkable improvement in recent times with innovative solutions far beyond what most of us might have envisaged decades ago.
Collaboration Between People and Technology
Today, banks, like FBNBank Ghana, are employing technology to improve customer service delivery, with a keen eye on the human element to get the right equation which would wow their customers. According to Victor Yaw Asante, Managing Director of FBNBank, “it is an imperative for banks to continue to innovate to meet the rather fast evolving needs of customers.
The digital age is transforming every aspect of life including banking. The expectations of customers and the standards of customer service delivery have spiked alongside the use of technology to provide digital financial services. We at FBNBank are aware of this and are relentless in our effort to deliver our avowed ‘Gold standard of value and excellence’ to our customers who we place at the heart of our business. Through training and other capacity building activities for our staff in addition to the use of technology, we are continuously improving our customer service delivery.”
The human element is key, so while it may be easy to use technology, if the human element is not properly primed for action, the equation will fail to deliver the desired results. This is where leadership plays a huge role.
Hear Mr. Asante; “at FBNBank, the agenda for top management and most Line Managers is to encourage teamwork to pull down silos. Building the appropriate culture to deliver top quality customer service requires behavioural change and continuous human capital development. This is how we are working on improving our customer service delivery at FBNBank. Tackle the human element and upgrade technology.”
For 129 years, First Bank of Nigeria, the parent bank of FBNBank Ghana has honed its customer service delivery thereby paving the way for its subsidiary in Ghana to be able to leverage best practice to remain in the forefront by delivering convenience, security, and speed through its operations for the benefit of its customers. I am not surprised at all, considering that the agenda to serve is founded on a brand promise which says, “You First”, yes you the customer are the priority, so for FBNBank it is a collaboration between humans and the use of technology to give customers the best of treatment. Not just technology but quality service with a human touch.
[an opinion editorial by Dr. Alexander Walker, Consultant, Middle Office, FBNBank Ghana]