Saturday, 16 June 2012

The NIC Bank Story-Relationship Marketing VS Transactional Marketing

A scan on the Deposit & Win Promos in the Banking Industry

One Customer at a time; It's time to THINK SMALLEST!
The feedback I got from the tweet above is what motivated me to write this article; I certainly couldn't have taken a screen shot of all the feedback I got so here's just a bit of it.

Over the last two weeks I have been moving from one bank to another looking for a bank that fits into my life. A bank that understands my dreams and ambitions. A bank that offers me personalized banking, convenience and reliability. My main agenda was to actually have a ‘taste & feel’ of the customer experience in the few banks I thought were good for me. My first stop was CFC Stanbic bank Harambee Avenue. After spending close to 20 minutes in there I finally met a guy who handles business accounts. Apparently the lady who handles personal accounts never wanted to assist me and thus acted like she didn’t know anything about business accounts! A case of “Kila mtu afanye kazi yake”. Then I went to KCB Kencom House, I love KCB because their CEO @Martin Oduor is on twitter so I can channel my complaints through his and KCB’s twitter handle anytime of the day! Cool guy! I didn’t want to go to Equity Bank; the long queues are terrible. I need convenience and a great customer experience in a bank! Due to the large numbers at Equity tellers can barely remember you even if you deposit a million bob daily! I need a bank that knows me since I know all my clients by name! I don't want to be a statistic, am not just an account holder!
My next stop was NIC bank; their brand communication portrays them as a really cool bank, one that only banks the people who think biggest! Yes, since I do THINK BIGGEST, I decided to pay them a visit at their Westlands branch, located at the Mall. I headed straight to the customer service desk and met Rosemary, an intern who happily directed me to the business development manager’s desk. The guy (I didn't see his badge) seemed so busy for me, so after sitting down for around 10 minutes a lady called Stella Macharia came to my rescue and explained all I needed to open a business account. (Thanks Stella; you deserve a promotion!).  I walked out and immediately sought a few opinions from my friends. Interestingly no one liked NIC in my random sample, even its current customers are a stressed lot. I got recommendations to try KCB and CFC but NIC never appeared in any of the responses.  Why? 
Here’s a story of what one of their customers has gone through in their City Centre branch!  I think banks have forgotten they need to focus more on retaining the clients they have through nurturing mutually beneficial relationships.Before I go to my story kindly spend 30 seconds on this video NIC Bank iPromo TVC  ;check out what the bank is promising you and me-then I will give you the other side of the coin.
My sources (The distressed customer) lets call them ABC Ltd tells me that Timothy Gitonga the head of business banking at NIC bank has been the frustrating his efforts to enjoy better banking services at the city centre branch.  ABC ltd tells me they sent their complaints on what was happening to the above mentioned Timothy in an email dated 17th March 2012. In his response which Jane Waithaka a business manager based at the City centre branch was copied promises to look into their complaints and assist immediately. Nothing has happened to date! Involved in this triangle too is one Florence Githaiga who is still the relationship officer to ABC ltd and they have on several occasions asked for a change of their relationship officer(Florence Githaiga) but their pleas have fell on deaf ears. If you have operated a business especially a manufacturing entity you understand that cash flow is critical. Thus a bank should offer cash on cheques, overdraft facilities, invoice discounting, HP and such service to help entrepreneurs run their businesses efficiently. ABC ltd qualifies for all this, having operated an account there for over 3 years and with good activity on the account (Deposits and withdrawals) running into millions. You may ask why this would happen? I will not share the details of my findings on my blog, since it isn't a gossip site; neither air their dirty linen in public but a few changes should be made at the branch. The HR should also move in and listen to a few employees at the branch;! I have no issues with the bank whatsoever, however as Richard Branson says, a business is as good as its people. If your employees mess up, the customer leaves angry and goes elsewhere, that means that shareholders cannot get good returns on their investments. See? What is happening here might mean investors will not get a dividend at the end of the year!
What annoys me as a marketer and as a customer is difference between what they promise and what they deliver! Every service provider will receive customer complaints, but as Sunny Bindra-A writer, speaker and a drum beater who publishes advocates for excellent customer service, brands must treat us well and if they don't we give them a #TwitterBigStick! Nothing has changed; the customer is still the king and if you're quite uncomfortable handling your customers nicely then they can fire all of you from the CEO by simply spending (banking) their money elsewhere.That's how big firms shut down! These days we have the options, we can switch rather easily. In as much as NIC bank may claim that this is just one instance, all customers (rich or poor) deserve to be treated nicely.
This story forms the basis of my article today, is transactional marketing really the way to go these days? I love banks like Citibank, you don't see them on the media oftenly, doing promos, with tents outside their banking hall or in the CBD,  too much PR. They don't engage in all this bullshit like their competitors do. Do they make money? yes! Are they profitable? Yes! Why? they focus on delivering their brand promise. That is what matters! What is the purpose of investing loads of cash into customer service and PR because you have a crappy product or simply because your products or services don't give value to your customers. Its simpler to come up with a great product, deliver, exceed the customer expectation and see whether you need 10 good looking girls on your customer care desk who smile all the time even when addressing serious issues! Having said that, let me come back to the other banks; if you read the newspapers regularly and carefully look at the billboards on our roads then you’ve seen the new trend in the banking industry. A good number of banks are now doing “Deposit and Win promos”. Maybe to mention a few others, Gulf  African Bank also have a promo where you can win 50K in the mini draw, I&M bank’s Malaika account has a similar promo too. KCB had one showing a smartly dressed guy watching a 32 inch flat screen TV but still keeps his money under the bed.How dumb? Seriously KCB? are there such urban, good looking, rich men in Kenya today who don’t know banks exist? And he walks to the cashier and asks “hapa mtu anawekanga pesa wapi"? This is where you deposit your money bro!
Coop bank had their deposit and win promo who’s TVC showed a guy who forfeits his lunch, deposits 1000 bob and wins a motorbike instantly! This was way better than Kenya Commercial Bank’s since at least they showed the reward, taught Kenyans that saving is good and rewarding and further showed us that delayed gratification always pays! All these promos point to one thing; transactional marketing; ooh yeah, I almost forgot that Barclays Bank wants to double your deposits up to a maximum of 100K, but then before you rush there kindly read this article on Career point Kenya titled  What is wrong at Barclays ? then decide whether you need an account there!
Here's my argument and advice to NIC Bank on why they should discontinue the iPromotion and focus on nurturing good relationships with their existing customers. The best way to grow a service business is through referrals!  
Relationship marketing
Relationship marketing has become widely used in the field of consumer marketing in recent years. There has been a lot of debate about what is really meant by relationship marketing, with the strongest advocates claiming that it represents a paradigm shift in marketing, while some societies have argued that it is really all about well established business practices dressed up as something new.
Conceptually relationship marketing has been positioned variably between taking a test of marketing tactics in which any interaction between buyers and sellers is described as a relationship and a fundamental marketing philosophy that goes to the core of the marketing concept through its customer lifetime focus.

Below please find a table that points out the difference between transactional and relationship marketing.
Transaction marketing

·         Focus on a single sale
·         Short-term orientation
·         Sales to anonymous buyers
·         Limited customer commitment
·         Quality is the responsibility of production department
·         Sales person is the main interface between buyers and sellers
Relationship marketing

·         Focus on customer retention
·         Long-term orientation
·         Tracking of named buyers
·         High customer commitment
·         Quality is the responsibility of all

·         Multiple levels of relationship between buyer and seller
The table above is simple and easy to understand, I am not saying banks shouldn't rush and scramble for the un-banked population, however we all know that a lot of Kenyans have accounts in banks which we don't use at all! I don't see the point of having 10000 new account holders from such a promo yet over 75 percent of these accounts will not have any activity; its cheaper to retain the 9 customers you have rather than lose the 9 chasing the 10th one!
In my next article titled Do Not Accept Blowjobs from Companies; Insist on the Real DEAL I will share more on the response I got from this tweet.
Nic Bank has "someone" who monitors their brand mentions on social media and when I posted this tweet he/she saw it and forwarded it to NIC City Centre branch. It's a long-long story that I want to share in my next article. Please note that I have nothing against NIC bank whatsoever; I just want brands to give their customers value for their money! Kudos to the marketing department at NIC bank, you guys are really doing a good job for the brand and thus you join the rest of the marketers who rule the world .Peace be with you, kindly follow me on twitter @Kenyanmarketer,  lets take the vibe there!


  1. My 2 cents on good business banks: try the mid-tier banks, they offer unparalleled customer (business) service; you get called when funds get into your account, calls when huge funds get transferred out of your account (just to confirm with the client if they authorized the transaction, you'll get a personal relationship with the bank...

    C Chomley

    1. Thank you Chomley for taking your time to read this article. maybe just to hear more from you, give me referrals please. I am still 'shopping around' for a bank that's going to give me excellent service!

  2. There might be some elements of truth in your story but definitely not everything! Most of these stuff you are talking about is highly exaggerated.

    Did you have some beef with any of the banks you mentioned? seems so

    Makonge Sisal

  3. Agreed with the article. NIC has become very useless bank. I was shocked with the high number of subscribers in the rights issues. City centre is the worst of all, You know what- we need to send them packing their belongings by move to other banks

  4. I absolutely respect and appreciate your point on each and every object.
    Tips by Muzafferer Dorgal

  5. what is transaction banking

    The content posted seems very informative and it help me a lot to know aobut What is transaction banking . Thanks for sharing the post.

    Keep posting further....