Citi, DBS buck the downward banking CX trend in Singapore

Citi and DBS Bank lead the customer experience among major banks in Singapore / Credit: Getty
Despite the stagnation in Singapore's banking customer experience in 2023, Citibank and DBS improve their CX scores, a new index from Forrester finds

Customer experience is stagnating among banks in Singapore.

This is the key takeaway from Forrester’s annual CX Index, which reveals lower customer satisfaction among Singapore banks compared to a year ago.

The annual study is based on responses from more than 2,500 APAC individuals in Singapore.

Among the city-nation’s biggest banks, OCBC, UOB and Standard Chartered all saw their CX scores decline – a trend Forrester puts down to sharp inflation rises and living costs, making it tougher for banks to deliver quality CX that directly meets customer needs.

Just two major Singapore banks bucked the declining CX trend – Citibank and DBS Bank were the only major banks to improve the customer experience over the last year, with Citi reclaiming top spot in the Index.

How Citibank is leading on CX

No stranger to recent customer service awards, Citibank ranked top in the Singapore’s Best Customer Service Award by The Straits Times and Statista in 2022 and secured The Asset Triple A Digital Award in 2022 for Best Retail Online Banking Experience in Singapore.

This is largely down to the bank’s heavy investment in a voice-of-the-customer programme and customer engagement that has helped to inform CX improvement initiatives including in employee training.

According to Nilesh Kumar, Citibank Singapore’s head of digital channels and experience, what sets Citi apart is its continuous drive to listen to customer feedback and act on it.

“We actively encourage customers to share their thoughts, suggestions and concerns as each piece of feedback helps us refine and optimise our services,” says Nilesh.  “Valuing their insights even more is a critical source of improvement.”

Nilesh Kumar, Citibank Singapore’s head of digital channels and experience

From surveys to focus groups to social media channels, the bank engages in an open and transparent dialogue with its customers.

The bank’s Customer initiative incorporates client feedback into its journey-mapping efforts and this feedback is central in guiding the bank’s employee training and development programmes.

The bank has also upgraded its mobile app, with adaptations including a Digital Lounge offering Citigold and Citigold Private Client customers a convenient one-stop access to various exclusive features and benefits.

Improvements have further been made on digital onboarding and rewards redemptions for credit card customers, while its wealth dashboard has been enriched with sharper analysis and deeper portfolio insights.

What do banks need to do to improve?

According to Forrester, lack of differentiation is one of the main factors hurting the market, with just a 5.7-point gap separating the leader and the last-placed bank.

This indicates that Singapore’s banking sector has reached a stalemate, and customers are rating most as ‘poor’ or just ‘OK’, the report reveals.

CX at physical branches was rated the lowest in Singapore, lower than digital-only and hybrid.

“There is a common misconception in banking that customers universally prefer digital experiences and are ready to abandon physical channels,” said Dane Anderson, SVP of international research and product at Forrester.

“Whilst investing in digital experiences was a necessity during COVID-19, by over-pivoting to focus on digital channels, banks in Singapore risk losing service capacity and neglecting the service quality in physical channels like call centers and branches.”

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