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We aim to be the financial services group of choice.

Customer & Client

pg27Customer & Client

Customer service is central to our growth strategy. To retain existing and acquire new customers and clients, it is essential that we remain relevant by offering appropriate, innovative products and solutions at the right cost.

This section should be read in conjunction with the segment reviews as well as our Citizenship review and Conduct review.

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1 Total number of South African customers with active Absa core banking products such as cheque accounts, savings accounts, secured and unsecured loans (excludes wills, life policies, Edcon, Woolworths Financial Services and Virgin Money South Africa).
2 Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is defined as the percentage difference between the promoters and detractors, based on the likelihood to recommend the Group to friends and family. For 2012 and 2013, NPS® was an average for the year. From 2014 onward, we use the quarter 4 score to reflect market sentiment at year end. Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company Inc. and Fred Reichheld.
3 Number of complaints (any expression of dissatisfaction) logged by the customer care department per 1 000 accounts.
4 The number of complaints opened and closed with the South African Ombudsman for Banking Services for the period 1 January to 31 December 2015.
LA This indicator is part of a limited assurance engagement undertaken by PwC and EY. The assurance statement can be found here.

2015 priorities

Progress made in 2015

Complete the launch of our multi-channel programme across our operations and apply learnings from South Africa to roll out successful tools in operations outside South Africa.

Across our operations, ongoing branch process improvements are enabling a quicker and more efficient experience for customers, clients and employees. We are testing new branch operating models, such as layout, digital in-branch capabilities network, multi-skilled employees and an intensive service training programme.

Complete the roll-out of key platforms such as Barclays.Net. Continue increasing relevant digital functionality and new innovations. Focus on resilience, including programmes to modernise our data centre and network infrastructure.

We invested over R2bn in our infrastructure and applications in 2015. We continue to make progress with both execution streams within our digital strategy (Run the Bank and Transform the Bank), delivering improved stability and new digitally enabled solutions. In South Africa, 640 corporate clients are using Barclays.Net and more clients will migrate over. We continued enhancing digital functionality of our online platforms (such as Absa Online Express and Worldmiles Travel Portal), introducing new functionalities (for example debit order reversals in South Africa) and innovations such as the Apple Watch app. We also launched a number of initiatives within our innovation programme, Rise Africa – including an intensive three-month Barclays Accelerator programme for innovators and entrepreneurs.

Continue using key driver analysis to inform customer and client propositions. Expand measures to include Islamic Banking and conduct additional research to gather further insight from corporate clients. Continue using root cause analysis to identify and address root causes of customer dissatisfaction.

NPS® across the business has improved – a clear indicator of the progress being made in responding to insights derived from customer analytics and in dealing with complaint root causes. While progress is being made, we remain behind our internal targets.

The growth of our business is directly linked to the way we treat our customers and clients. We remain focused on improving customer experience by simplifying processes, reshaping our branch network and investing in our digital products.

The move to digital banking means that our customers and clients have a range of relevant channels available to choose from, suited to their individual lifestyles and needs.

We provide access via 1 251 branches and 10 378 ATMs across our operations. While these numbers continue to decrease marginally in line with our multi-channel strategy and the reshaping of our branch network, our customers and clients are also able to access our products and services through our online and mobile platforms. Our partnerships with various retailers, and strategic investments such as lending marketplace Rainfin, are other ways in which we serve our customers.

In South Africa, we:

  • supported customers in migrating to the appropriate products based on their life stages;
  • improved 30% of the branch network through a combination of refurbishment and re-positioning of branches, ATMs and cash accepting devices;
  • implemented self-registration for customers on our banking app, stand-alone home loan and vehicle finance registration on internet banking, and additional functionalities on cash accepting devices;
  • digitised the mortgage loan applications with our Absa Homeowners app offering speed, convenience and 24/7 access;
  • introduced MTN reverse billing and Smart Access and made free Wi-Fi available at select branches;
  • improved access to exchange-traded products for retail customers through a joint initiative between CIB and WIMI;
  • enhanced Business Banking’s electronic sales platform and automated credit scoring, and developed instant online account opening for businesses via digital channels;
  • increased the reach of Payment Pebble, a mobile payment acceptance device for any smartphone, with our key merchants using the devices to eliminate lengthy queues;
  • launched Barclays.Net, allowing our corporate clients direct access to a range of account reporting and payment products that can be tailored to their requirements; and
  • partnered with Rainfin – a lending marketplace for lenders and borrowers with paperless applications, loan assessment in minutes and free credit reports and education.

Outside South Africa, we:

  • increased access to our products by using iPads to open accounts at remote locations across Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius and Zambia;
  • expanded paperless banking across Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia;
  • launched CashSend, which allows cash withdrawals at our ATMs without a bank card, via a mobile phone in Botswana and Kenya;
  • delivered ATMs which are now available 24 hours a day, with increased functionalities such as cash acceptance, and CashSend in all markets (except for Seychelles);
  • implemented cash withdrawal via point-of-sale devices in Seychelles (first-to-market) and Zambia;
  • introduced prepaid cards and an exclusive proposition for the youth in Zambia; and
  • implemented a successful My Shoes are My Office initiative where relationship bankers and senior leaders spent time with clients to better understand their needs and improve service levels.

Strengthening and extending our online and mobile service continues to be a priority. In the previous section, there are many examples of how technology is changing the customer and client experience. In 2015, we invested over R2bn in our infrastructure and applications. Our digital strategy has two clear execution streams: Run the Bank and Transform the Bank.

Run the Bank has a clear focus on system resilience and stability including modernisation of our network, system availability, disaster recovery capabilities and the management of IT, and information and cyber risks. In 2015, we implemented a number of network improvements resulting in improved system stability. This work will continue into 2016, with a focus on key areas such as further improving our payments platforms and the standardisation of IT architecture across business areas and geographies. A new cybersecurity strategy was implemented to ensure the ongoing protection of our systems and customers’ and clients’ accounts. We successfully prevented attacks on our channels and we continue to promote awareness with customers to guard against phishing email campaigns.

Within Transform the Bank we are adapting our thinking to radically change customer and client experience and anticipate what financial services will look like in the future. We brought operations and front office technology teams closer together, and continued with the automation of key processes such as vehicle and asset finance and customer and client on-boarding for business and corporate banking. We delivered a number of digitally enabled solutions to the market.

In South Africa:

  • Absa Online Express – a quick and easy way for customers to do their most common transactions on mobile banking;
  • first-to-market Absa Apple Watch app – an example of how we can quickly customise international digital assets of the wider Group;
  • first-to-market Absa online debit order reversal – customers can, within 40 days, request that an unauthorised debit order be reversed instantly, and prevent future debit order transactions from taking place;
  • visible credit limits – enables pre-scored credit and online applications;
  • ATM cardless cash deposits – allowing retail and business customers to receive cash deposits from other customers and non-customers in real time; and
  • Absa’s Affinity Life – a first-to-market predictive underwriting tool that uses customer-level data to predict what the outcome for medical underwriting would be without the inconvenience of going for full medical assessments.

Outside South Africa:

  • Worldmiles Online Travel Portal – online redemption of Worldmiles awards;
  • Hello Money – a basic mobile phone banking solution for customers without access to smartphones in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda;
  • bill payments via digital platforms in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia;
  • debit and credit alerts released in Kenya and Uganda; and
  • estatements implemented in Kenya, Tanzania (NBC) and Uganda.

Established in 2015, the Africa Design Office is focused on crafting the physical design and experiences that customers and clients want, creating an end-to-end engagement at every touchpoint in our customer-facing systems. Data and advanced analytics is a key enabler to better serve our customers and clients. Analytics is helping us build a deeper understanding of customer and client behaviour and enables us to engage with them on a more personal and relevant level. For example, in a recent pilot, 60% of more than 50 000 customers receiving low funds alerts took proactive actions following the alert to manage their payments, and 84% confirmed they would like to receive these alerts going forward.

Further demonstrating how we are positioning the Group to capitalise on the main driver of change in financial services – technology – we launched Rise Africa in October. Rise Africa is an innovation community built around both a physical space and digital platform, creating a local, regional and international community for the top fintech start-ups to connect, co-create and scale their innovative ideas and connect with corporates.

Rise Africa comprises a number of initiatives:

  • Our Cape Town Rise Innovation Hub opened in December and links to hubs in London, Manchester and New York.
  • Barclays Accelerator, an intensive three-month programme, offers innovators and entrepreneurs access to mentors and investors across 14 locations in Africa.
  • Nairobi Innovation Hub in partnership with Moringa School and global start-up investment firm, Nest.

We also hosted our first Barclays Blockchain Challenge – an innovation challenge for youth entrepreneurs where the winner receives a cash prize and potential funding from investors. The supply chain, the journey of a product from manufacturer to consumer, is often disjointed and inefficient and Blockchain (a digital currency) and similar technologies have substantial potential to create transparency in the series of transactions that occur along any supply chain process. Kenya-based Markit Opportunity won the challenge with a scalable solution aimed at improving the incomes of smallholder farmers.

In measuring our service levels, we monitor a number of metrics including NPS®, complaints per 1 000 accounts and the number of complaints escalated to external ombuds.

Our NPS® in South Africa improved to 22% (2014: 19%) while Rest of Africa achieved an average NPS® of 32% (2014: 21%). Our Group NPS® achieved in 2015 is 24%LA (2014: 19.5%LA). We continue working towards our target Group NPS® (weighted 75% to South Africa) of 44% by 2018.

Complaints in South Africa decreased 15% to 101 157. The decrease can be attributed to our ongoing service improvement initiatives. Top complaint categories included ATMs and service charges. The improvement in complaints is reflected in the per 1 000 accounts metric in South Africa, which decreased to 0.44LA in 2015 (2014: 0.53LA).

In the Rest of Africa, complaint volumes increased 95% to 148 990. This increase was mainly due to the introduction of a single complaint system and the corresponding drive to log all complaints received. Complaints mainly involve ATM availability issues and errors. We experienced an increase in complaint volumes in Ghana and Kenya due to technology failures. An increase in logging disciplines and technology-related complaints contributed to the increased per 1 000 accounts metric of 3.16 (2014: 1.52).

At a Group level, we resolved 52.1% of complaints at first point of contact (2014: 41.8%) and 63.7% of escalated complaints within 48 hours (2014: 53.9%). These improvements are attributed to better complaints logging disciplines. The balances of complaints escalated were due to the complexity of these complaints.

In South Africa, the number of Ombudsman for Banking Services complaints decreased to 193LA complaints opened (2014: 524LA) and 633LA closed (2014: 614LA). Of the overall industry volumes, we have the second-lowest number of complaints when compared to our biggest peers.

While the ongoing work to improve customer and client experience is resulting in improved customer and client sentiment in selected areas such as ATM and branch service, improved processes such as home loan applications, and better relationship management in CIB, we remain behind our internal targets. We will continue to actively identify and resolve underlying root causes of dissatisfaction and implement new and more convenient solutions.

Financial services organisations are natural targets for crimes such as fraud and robbery. We recognise our obligation to preserve our customers’ and clients’ physical safety, as well as their money and personal information. For customers, financial crime risk areas include ATM and branch security (for example, card skimming and robberies), card fraud and online security risks such as spyware and computer viruses.

Our fraud prevention capability improved in 2015, benefiting from more effective management of related key risks (including customer on-boarding), technology upgrades, employee and customer awareness programmes, analytics and increased employee capacity.

Total fraud losses are lower than in 2014, and continue to decrease ahead of industry trends, with 86% of fraud losses (2014: 90%) attributable to South Africa. Card fraud continues to be the main contributor to fraud losses, amounting to 62% (2014: 80%) of total losses in the Group. The improvement is mainly due to the introduction of more secure chip and PIN cards, as well as significant changes in the early detection of application and transaction fraud.

While card fraud losses incurred by our customers decreased 5%, online fraud increased significantly, up 120% in rand value, as a result of more customers transacting online and aggressive targeting of customers by fraudsters with the intention of securing the customer’s account number, PIN and password. This increase in online fraud is a broader industry and global trend. Online fraud is currently the largest contributor to retail customer losses. In 2015, of the total claims made by customers for fraud perpetrated at ATMs and online, 38% was not refunded as the fraudsters had secured the customers’ secret information, for example via phishing emails. Awareness remains a primary defence and we continue to engage with our customers and clients about the risks they face.

Significant progress has been made on preventing violent crime in South Africa and all categories, except ATM burglaries, have reduced in both the number of incidents and the losses. The reduction is mainly attributed to our investment in security technology, training and awareness over the last three years. In general, the financial industry has seen similar trends, although we remain vigilant.

Aspects of the security environment continue to pose challenges, such as terrorism and escalating cyber and digital fraud risks. We continue to invest in defences against these risks. For example, our transaction profiling system strengthens our controls against digital fraud, protecting our customers and clients as well as the Group.

Looking ahead

While we delivered new solutions and improvements across our products, services and channels, we acknowledge that more needs to be done. Our digital transformation journey has just begun and it is a multi-year journey towards building the capabilities required in future. We will:

  • continue delivering fit-for-purpose branches to be optimally positioned to serve customers and reduce costs;
  • deliver ongoing digital channel enhancements including our online platforms, ATMs and mobile solutions;
  • use deep customer insights identified through research to inform process improvements and enhance customer experience;
  • migrate more of our corporate clients to electronic channels;
  • evolve key product offerings in areas including agri-business and enterprise development, and further integrate bancassurance offerings with RBB;
  • use data analytics to better serve our customers and clients;
  • drive innovation through Rise Africa and other innovation initiatives;
  • expand our customer satisfaction measurements to include CIB and WIMI touchpoints in operations outside South Africa; and
  • continue developing strategic and tactical responses to the evolving fraud, cybersecurity and information security landscape.