A while ago I went to pay my tuition fees for my professional course which I study at the Uganda Management Institute, I had a choice between making payment using a Centenary or Stanbic bank branch but opted for the latter. I wanted to do my payment quickly and efficiently in the least time possible and so I opted to use the new executive branch of the Stanbic bank at Acacia Mall.
However my intention to get in and out of the executive branch in 10 minutes tops did not pan out as I quickly realised that this branch only had 3 employees, 1 at customer care desk, the other dispensing money and the last one in the back office. So even though I got into the bank at 11: 55am I ended up leaving at 12:42pm for a very simple transaction that usually takes me a maximum of 15 minutes at a regular non executive branch.
That aside what I found extremely interesting is how accommodative Ugandans are as can be seen during this conversation between 2 customers as they waited in queue. I entered the bank and filled out my bank slip and asked the customer care attendant where I should go and she directed me to a queue with only 2 gentleman waiting. I was relieved I would only need to wait for a short time before I got served but little did I know that would not be the case.
40 – 50 year Male Customer: ‘How long do we have to wait to be attended to?’ he asked after sitting for about 30 minutes in the same position in the queue.
30 – 35 year Male Customer: ‘Hhhmm,’ he said rather silently while coughing to disguise his chuckle.
A couple of customers entered the bank over a 15 minute period which brought the number in the queue to 12 myself inclusive, when a lady with a newborn in a stroller walked in and spoke to the customer care agent. Sadly she was also informed she would have to join the same queue, with no complaint she joined us and stood at the back. After about 10 minutes a senior gentleman who was in front of her stood up to let her take his seat as the conversation continued.
40 – 50 year Male Customer: So we are still here after 30 minutes of the guards and customer care criss-crossing the lobby passing us each time. What is the fuss if it does not amount to service?’
As the last word escaped his lips he was finally summoned by the security guard to go to the counter to get served, but as he picked up his newspaper and steadied himself to rise up, the bullion van arrived and 2 more security guards burst through the door making a beeline for the same counter. So the gentleman was sent back to his seat and by this time he was furious.
40 – 50 year Male Customer: ‘So now at the worst time possible, they decide to offload money from the bullion van. Who schedules such operations at a high customer traffic time of noon on a Saturday? ’
30 – 35 year Male Customer: ‘hihihi sure,’ is all he said with a smile on his face as he moved back to his original seat to let the gentleman take his previous one.
Now I am not an expert to know how long these funds transfers should take but it took nearly half an hour while we sat there and the waiting area queue snaked all the way to the door since there were no vacant ‘executive’ seats at this time.
40 – 50 year Male Customer: ‘So are we supposed to spend our whole day doing our banking? This is unbelievable and we need to report this. You know as Ugandans we never complain, we grumble as we suffer but we never officially complain.’
As he said this he moved to a counter next to the entrance and he picked up customer feedback forms which he distributed to 9 of us sitting right behind him.
30 – 35 year Male Customer: ‘Yes thank you,’ he said as he received his feedback form but to my surprised after reading through the specifics, none of the individuals who received them filled them out. Now that is what nudged me to take the time to fill it out.
40 – 50 year Male Customer: ‘See we wait in line for an unacceptable amount of time but no one fills out the feedback card to complain when they receive poor service. All we do is go and complain in the bar, what will that help you as if the bar man is the branch manager. ’
30 – 35 year Male Customer: ‘sure, sure.’
40 – 50 year Male Customer: ‘I know it is not in our culture to complain but time has changed and if I am paying for executive banking service I expect to get it after all my time is very valuable to me.’
30 – 35 year Male Customer: ‘Yes indeed.’
Now this last fellow baffled me because he kept agreeing with the older gentleman but never ever filled out the feedback form. I eventually got called to the counter and was swiftly attended to but by this time I was too tired to pay attention to details, so much that I walked out from the booth only to realise that I was supposed to receive change from my transaction. I walked back to the counter and returned my receipt to the Stanbic teller who had just served me and she apologised and after going over the transaction she gave me my change.
I was happy I had received it but this made me wonder, is this a common occurrence for this executive branch of the Stanbic branch? I am usually the customer who will wait patiently without jumping queue even when there is no order with no complaint, however with the way this branch was running I could help but finish filling out my form and submitted it to the suggestion box. I intentionally filled in my phone number which was listed as optional and expected to receive feedback from this executive branch of the Stanbic bank.