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South Africans Lead the Way in Mobile Banking, Avaya Survey Reveals

  • Avaya survey of nine countries shows South African banking customers most likely to choose mobile app to contact their bank
  • South Africans more likely than counterparts in other countries to complain about bad customer service

Johannesburg, 2017 – Consumers in South Africa prefer a digital-first approach to resolving their basic banking issues, only talking to a human being if they have to, according to a new survey from Avaya. Out of nine countries surveyed, South Africans were the most likely to say they preferred to use a mobile banking app to access their banking services – and they are also most likely to lodge a formal complaint about bad customer service.

The Customer Experience in Banking Survey, conducted with YouGov, queried more than 10,000 banking customers in two waves – the first covering the UK, UAE, India and Australia, and the second South Africa, France, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. Given the choice, the most popular method for South Africa customers to contact their bank was via a mobile app, selected by 30% of respondents, compared with 26% in India, 24% in the UAE, and just 10% in France and 8% in Germany. Online banking was the second-most preferred channel for South Africans, at 26%, with just 18% preferring to visit their branch.

Getting the customer experience right is vital to South African banks as 67% of respondents would lodge a formal complaint with their bank about bad customer service – again the highest out of all nine countries, with just 37% in Saudi Arabia saying they would complain. South Africans are also second only to Indians in complaining about bad customer service to people they know, with 41% saying they would tell friends and acquaintances. More pleasingly for banks, only 28% of South Africans would change banks because of bad service, the lowest out of all countries, while South African respondents reported the second-highest highest satisfaction levels, at 89%, below only India’s 93%.

The biggest frustrations South African respondents experience when calling their bank include being kept waiting for a long time, their call being transferred between customer service agents with the problem not being resolved, and being asked to visit the branch to solve their request. When asked about proactive communication from their bank, only 26% of customers in South Africa want to receive information on a new launch or service by the bank whereas 69% of respondents want to be alerted to possible fraud or problematic transactions and 56% want to be informed when their credit card or banking service is up for renewal.

Regardless of how they choose to contact their bank, 68% of South African customers cited getting the same level of experience and service across all channels as a priority. Following that, customers want their problem to be resolved on the first point of contact, with speaking directly with a customer service agent seen as least important.

Virtual Financial Advisors (VFAs) – representatives from the bank who engage customers through virtual means and service them remotely with online tools – seem to be an ideal solution based on the preferences of South African respondents. According to the survey, the most valued benefit of having a VFA to South African customers is being able to get faster resolutions on their banking inquiries, followed by notifications for issues such as being overdrawn, problematic or suspicious transactions, and credit card renewal.

“South African customers are likely to be very vocal about bad customer services so to deliver a superior customer experience requires South African banks to be able to coordinate across all customer touchpoints—whether online or offline,” said Danny Drew, Managing Director, Avaya South Africa. “Mobile is becoming an increasingly popular channel to interact with banks here, as technologies like voice and video move digital. Yet while we may reach customer support through a mobile app, I think South African customers will always want to have the option to speak to a person if needed. That is where new technologies can really make a difference in helping customers do what they want to do as fast and effectively as possible, through whichever channel they want to use.”

To learn more about how Avaya is digitally transforming financial services, check out this short video or browse this resource guide.

Editor Note

The latest edition of the Customer Experience in Banking Survey was conducted from July 19 to 24 amongst 5,015 panellists in France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Objectives of the survey were to gauge current banking satisfaction levels; most often used and preferred banking channels; issues encountered when contacting banking call centres and customers’ preferences when doing so; preference of being contacted by banks, and the perceived benefits of VFAs.

About Avaya

Avaya enables the mission critical, real-time communication applications of the world’s most important operations. As the global leader in delivering superior communications experiences, Avaya provides the most complete portfolio of software and services for contact center and unified communications — offered on premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid. Today’s digital world requires communications enablement, and no other company is better positioned to do this than Avaya. For more information, please visit

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