By EMEKA EJERE
In developing economies like Nigeria where electronic banking is yet to be embraced by a large majority of the banking population, crowd management both within the bank premises and inside the banking hall is quite a big issue.
So serious it is that it has become one of the factors some prospective bank customers consider before choosing a bank. The importance of a good crowd management culture in a bank cannot be overemphasized considering its vital role in the economy.
This and more prompted a visit by the across-the-counter team of BusinessHallmark on Friday, February 27, 2019, to five banks along Ogunusi Road at Ojodu area of Lagos. Our findings revealed that Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank ) has a lead in crowd management.
From a specious parking space that gives both the security personnel and the arriving/departing bank customers little or no stress in parking or moving out their vehicles, it is easy to tell that the huge customer base the GTBank branch enjoys has not taken it by surprise.
The branch has two banking halls. While the hall on the ground floor is for customer service activities, the hall on the first floor houses deposits, withdrawals, foreign exchange and other banking transactions with good time management in display.
It was observed that GTBank’s good crowd management culture is aided by a combination of a good space and optimally functional air-conditioners. Little wonder our team witnessed a situation of an average of four minutes transaction time.
Following closely on the scale of good crowd management is First Bank. The first thing that puts a smile on the face of a customer who drives to this branch is a good packing space which is not common in a densely populated city like Lagos.
Packing and driving out vehicles is certainly not a problem for customers, a situation that makes life easy for the security personnel whose duty it is also to guide packing and takeoff.
Like the neighbouring GTBank branch, this branch of First Bank maintains two specious halls. While customer service section is found on the first floor, other banking transactions take place in the hall upstairs.
The security personnel were on ground to ensure that customers who came for deposit, withdrawal or any other over-the-counter transaction was on a single queue so as to maintain a culture of first come, first served. A transaction took an average of 5 minutes as at the time of our team’s unscheduled visit.
Next in our ranking is Access Bank. Though not a full branch, the Access Bank at Ojodu Berger is perhaps putting in the greatest effort in crowd management. While one may not envy the security personnel who have to manage quite a limited parking space in a way that still allows smooth flow of traffic, it is commendable to observe that they are doing a great job.
Similar scenario plays out in the banking hall that houses both customer service activities and the rest of banking transactions. Like their counterparts outside, the security personnel within the banking hall were on top of the situation ensuring a reasonable level of decorum.
A branch with crowd management deficiency would have found itself in a serious commotion with the number of customers in the banking hall compared to available space. Rather, the branch was able to demonstrate an uncommon expertise that handled the crowd.
There was also a separate queue for depositors leading to the bulk room, which helps in decongesting the front of the counters. An average over-the-counter transaction took 6 minutes as at the time of our visit.
Zenith Bank, like GTBank and First Bank, maintains two banking halls. But unlike these two other banks, it uses the hall on the ground floor for the core banking transactions while using the hall upstairs for customer service activities.
While the security personnel manning the insufficient packing space within the premises were at alert mindful of the damage any lapse in their service could cause, those inside the banking hall seemed to believe that the customers are old enough to put themselves in order. But they were wrong.
Of course some customers who are not orderly by nature capitalized on the loophole and created a scenario that left some customers arguing over their positions on the queue. However, there was total decency upstairs. Like in Access Bank, however, an average of 6 minutes was spent for a transaction.
Ecobank obviously is not having as many customers as the rest of the banks visited. This gives it the advantage of achieving a semblance of good crowd management with little or no effort.
However, it did not shield the fact that a bigger customer base would have easily exposed the weakness of the branch. For instance, it took about 10 minutes for the leader of this team to get the answer of a simple question: “What does it take to open a current account in your bank?”
A customer service lady (name withheld), who obviously could not answer the question, had to pass it to another staff who had to leave his duty post to come and answer the question after about 10 minutes.
The branch also enjoys the advantage of a spacious parking space that is barely fill to capacity. The security personnel there must be enjoying their jobs more than their counterparts in other banks depending on what enjoyment means to them.