The country's financial service sector, mainly the banking industry, faces severe competition to attract and retain their customers. That's why, banks need to distinguish themselves clearly from one another and try to carve a special niche in the consumer's mind.
Unless this is accomplished, any quantitative or qualitative improvements in the existing bank service quality will have only a limited impact on customers' perceptions of quality and value. Under these demanding circumstances, to remain competitive, a bank must tangibilise its image in the minds of the consumers. In fact, the concept of tangibilising the intangible is a buzzword in the service marketing.
Although creating tangibility sounds easy, it is not always so. You begin by trying to locate tangible representations that enhance your customers' understanding of benefits you deliver. These tangibles should be meaningful to the customer, not just you.
Bank customers' expectation of a trip to a bank, for example, may be no more than five minutes' waiting in the queue. They expect courteous, knowledgeable and accurate tellers today.
Physical ambiance can have a significant impact on both customer and employee behaviour in the financial sector. There are many factors which must be considered while designing a physical environment that boosts quality of customer-employee interaction.
Factors that determine ambience include lighting and temperature, spatial layout of furnishings and equipment, and use of appropriately designed signs and symbols to express service concepts.
Sometimes, it is alleged, bank employees have a lukewarm attitude towards their clients. That's why, the bankers just say the system is not working. However, such attitude needs to be changed because it will create negative word of mouth that tarnishes the bank's reputation.
A bank needs to offer free of charge account checking service, credit card information, ATM booth information, mobile recharge for customers so that customers can find out their banking services through artificial intelligence.
For example, a private commercial bank in Bangladesh introduces Digital Interactive Agent which is the country's first Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based banking Chatbot. It will help users to get information regarding accounts, credit card and prepaid cards along with general service information as well as perform through Facebook Messenger and Viber platform. That bank has also launched the first Augmented Reality (AR)-based service in banking industry of Bangladesh which will help to identify nearest branches and ATM booths information.
Effective bank website, national or international awards, and customer testimonials are some of the most important things in the banking sector that will help bank marketers to tangibilise their service excellence. Consequently, customers will feel free to deposit their money with that bank or take loan from it without any hesitation.
Once tangibilised, the image of the bank in the customer mindset, bank marketers must maintain that image over time to sustain in highly competitive financial sector in Bangladesh.
Md. Hafez, Assistant Professor of School of Business at Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology.