How many minutes do you wait in bank?

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-17 09:13

The pledge by eight Chinese banks in Shanghai to reduce queuing time for its customers this week is welcome news.

The Shanghai Municipal Finance Industry Office recently brought together 16 Chinese banks to find ways to handle growing complaints from customers about long queues.

According to a recent study of 100 local bank outlets, the average customer queues for 52 minutes. And seven of the 16 banks reported an average waiting time of over 30 minutes.

Not enough counters for individual services and poor management are among the major problems at the banks, the study found.

An "ultimatum" issued by Shanghai's finance industry office last Friday called on local banks to take measures to improve the situation, or face punishment.

On Saturday, eight Chinese banks announced plans to rectify the situation, including revamping outlets, optimizing business processes, adding more staff and automatic banking equipment.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said it would extend its business hours, set up a non-stop service in all its outlets during lunch hours and provide some evening services.

China Construction Bank said it would add more bank tellers as well as 350 automatic banking machines.

In the last few years, banks have paid more attention to high-end customers the profit center of their business while ignoring the massive number of low-end customers.

As a result, banking in Shanghai has become an unpleasant experience for many customers. This is certainly damaging to a city that aspires to become a financial center.

While profitability is important to banks, winning the respect of customers big or small is crucial to the long-term survival and growth of banks. In this sense, the Chinese banks are taking the right step this week.

Foreign banks, which have big plans in China, should also bear this in mind. They should not just keep their eyes on lucrative high-end customers while shirking their responsibility to the rest of their clients.

(China Daily 04/17/2007 page13) 

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