Post-pandemic expectations for banking experiences have been ever shifting at a pace faster than anyone could have imagined. A new baseline for customer experience in banking has been set: People expect more channels, and faster and personalized responses without long wait times. In fact, surveys have shown that they rank it above low fees, product availability, and security features.
And while it’s no longer about merely providing “delight” to customers with every interaction, increasingly, customer engagement expectations are also surprisingly simple: Make it easy; make it efficient; provide a solution. They need answers, not excuses. Whatever forms simplification might take—an instant access card from a new banking partner or a 24/7 call center line staffed by real people who have the answers—user-friendly options are imperative to create the gold standard in customer service.
So what makes some customer service experiences shine a little brighter and stand apart from the rest? The magic usually happens when staff—real people—can deliver what the customer actually wants, when they really need it.
A year since its launch in October 2022, GoTyme Bank—a joint venture between the Gokongwei Group and Tyme Group, a multicountry digital banking group focused on emerging markets—is well on its way to setting the bar for the emergent banking experience. Its “phygital” model delivers effective omnichannel experiences, deploys automation to improve efficiency, makes banking more personal, and adapts and responds to new consumer needs.
For Nate Clarke, GoTyme Bank president and chief executive officer, customer service is the most important differentiator in the market: “At GoTyme, we believe that providing next-level or market-leading customer service is about human connection to our customers.”
Everything GoTyme Bank has done since Day One has led up to achieving a differentiated customer service. Its user-friendly, award-winning app boasts easy account registration and allows for fast onboarding. Any kiosk at a Robinsons Supermarket is supported by a bank ambassador (BA) who ensures that customers get their sleek and free debit card printed and released in less than five minutes. The BA helps customers navigate subsequent transactions and is ready to instruct or clarify account-related issues for them as needed.
It offers three free transfers per week and free deposits and withdrawals in any Robinsons retail ecosystem. It has the highest base savings interest rate in the market of 5% per annum—no missions, no minimum balance requirements, and no deposit caps. Its award-winning debit card program with Go Rewards points boosters and points to cash is the only one of its kind in the market today. It offers banking where customers shop, dine, or relax. Going beyond building connections and as GoTyme discovers more about its customers’ needs, it gets to design and execute better products: It looks forward to offering its customers access to affordable consumer and merchant loans as well as exciting investment opportunities.
Boots on the ground
GoTyme Bank has the target firmly in its sights—to unlock the Filipino financial potential—and in so doing creates value for the people it serves.
Albert Tinio, GoTyme Bank co-chief executive officer, shares that GoTyme had invested significantly in human banking to offer its customers the experience that revolves around genuine human connection. “We take part in championing human banking because the people prefer to talk to people to be heard and be understood by someone who generally cares,” he says, vowing that GoTyme “will be utilizing technology and analytical processes to better understand the services and products that are suited to [our customers’] financial needs.”
GoTyme’s promises that a personal banker (PB), not a bot, will always respond to a chat or a call. Sean Matthew, a customer, reports, “Ang bilis ng response time nila, may sasagot ng tawag mo in less than two minutes…In fact, when they reverted, I’d almost forgotten about the report that I’d made. Pero nag auto-resolve na siya at sinabihan nila ako on the spot [Their response time record…a real person responds to you in less than two minutes. Meanwhile, the issue resolved itself automatically, while the PB informed me of the development almost immediately].”
Alexander, another customer, recalls his own experience with GoTyme’s “human customer service when he was in a long queue at the cashier’s and his debit card wouldn’t go through. “Good thing I was able to reach a GoTyme [personal banker] right away. Whew! Imagine if [it had been another bank], abutin ako ng sampung taon [I could very well have been there forever]. Keep it up, GoTyme!”
These real-life stories bear witness to what Tinio reiterates as GoTyme Bank’s promise to provide the best customer service via “a banking experience deeply rooted in empathy, care, and human excellence.”
In fact, Clarke has gone so far as to say GoTyme Bank is not striving just to be the best customer service bank in the country: “We are striving to promote the best customer service on any business or any brand.”
Clarke’s confidence is anchored in the bank’s firm conviction that “the more digital the world becomes, the more human a bank needs to be.” This, in turn, finds the best demonstration in GoTyme Bank’s more than 370 kiosks strategically located across the country, and supported by over 900 BAs ready to assist steadily expanding clientele. Already, GoTyme has reached more than 1.45 million customers, with about 200,000 sign-ons a month.
Rekindling human connections
To better serve its clients, GoTyme Bank plans to increase the number of GoTyme kiosks nationwide to 400 by the end of the year, and by 2024, the number will move up within the Gokongwei ecosystem (malls, etc.) as well as venues outside the ecosystem, for example, in malls outside of JG Summit Holdings. One or two BAs for every kiosk are guaranteed to ensure that human connections are always being forged.
Regina Lugtu, a BA at Robinson’s in Porac, Pampanga, says, “Mas ok po na merong BA sa kiosk dahil may mga customer po na pumupunta sa kiosk para ma-address ang concerns nila… lalo na yung kailangan ng agarang sagot, at minsan naman may customer na naghahanap pa rin ng mag-a-assist sa kanila para makagawa ng account. Importante din ang BA sa mga customer dahil actual ang pag explain ng benefits ng GoTyme Bank—mas malinaw ito at mauunawaan ang lahat. Iba pa rin talaga ang may taong magpapaliwanag nang personal sa mga customer. [It’s better to have BAs in kiosks because there are customers who need to address their concerns—especially those that need immediate answers and assistance in opening an account. Other customers need the BA to explain the benefits offered by GoTyme Bank. BAs make all the difference in personally enlightening customers].”
For Marjorie Mamucud, a BA at Robinson’s Supermarket in Ilagan, Isabela, BAs perform the invaluable role of tech support especially for digital banking first-timers such as older adults. She says these clients have an urgent need to make sense of the digital world they’re moving and living in: “BAs can answer all their queries and cater to their needs. As we always tell them, ‘Welcome to Gotyme Bank, your Human Digital Bank!’”
In 2022, McKinsey reported that 41% of consumers surveyed said they wished banks provided more personalized offers and information, citing the greater expectation for banks “to immerse into the lifestyle of the consumer, creating an experience, not just a transaction.”
This message is at the heart of GoTyme Bank’s two-minute film, The Lonely Bot, which was screened in Robinsons cinemas recently. Roboto embarks on a quest for genuine connection after he and his close friend, fellow robot Roberta, had been decommissioned after the initial excitement surrounding their film died down. With Roberta fully disengaged and abandoned in a storage room somewhere, a disheartened—and partially deactivated—Roboto sets out in search of a new friend.
The Lonely Bot’s touching ending demonstrates GoTyme’s commitment to having actual people at the forefront of its business, particularly its customer service operations. Moreover, it is a love letter to creatives and workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
Lionel Gacad, GoTyme chief experience officer, says, “For all its currency and efficiency, artificial intelligence (AI) can never replace humans.”
In fact, GoTyme’s newly won clients from BPO companies had signed on “because they say that [GoTyme] feels their needs—for the managers, fast online onboarding; for the employees— high-yielding savings account, free transfers, and human customer service,” Gacad adds.
Customers clearly desire personal attention in the digital spaces they frequent. Indeed, as banking becomes increasingly digital, replicating the bank branch-like conversations in the digital sphere is essential to maintain the emotional connection that customers crave.
It’s all about “feels”
GoTyme PBs share their own stories from the other end of the line. Danics says they can listen to their clients and answer them “from our hearts”—unlike AI, which dishes replies out of a preprogrammed playbook. “Mas customized, mas personalized yung sagot namin sa sa kanila [Our replies to clients are more personalized, more customized].”
Curth, a fellow PB, adds, “Pag human, may feeling o may emosyon yung sagot [Humans respond with more feeling, more emotion].” He says that for every person they interact with, they have a real conversation about the client’s concerns: “Gusto namin ma-feel ng clients namin na nauunawaan talaga sila [We want our clients to feel that they are really understood].”
Mariefe Mariñas, a BA at Robinsons Easymart in Hagonoy, Bulacan, says, “As a GoTyme Bank BA it gives me satisfaction to render good customer service. Gusto ng mga clients na mabigyan sila ng tamang explanation about GoTyme—kung paano po ito gamitin at kung ano po yung kagandahan ng GoTyme. Kapag napapaliwanag ko ang mga perks ng GoTyme may mga customer na talagang na-a-amaze…tapos yung mga nagiging client ko bumabalik silang may mga recruit. Maganda ang feedback nila about GoTyme, lalo na yung sa human help centers nito—few minutes lang daw may kasagutan na ang mga concern nila. Sa ganung paraan nagkakaroon kami ng good relationship sa clients kaya may mga referrals dahil sa ganda ng service [Clients appreciate receiving explanations about GoTyme—how to maximize its features and what makes it different. When I am able to explain GoTyme’s perks some customers are truly amazed, and they return with potential new clients. There’s positive feedback on GoTyme, particularly its human help centers; they say issues are resolved in a matter of a few minutes. Good customer service is how we cultivate a good relationship with clients, which in turn brings in other potential clients].”
Viccine, a customer, says, “It's really good that a company is starting to see that even with [fast-paced] digitalization, human service is still different and [superior]. So…this type of digital bank is a [very] good thing."
The extra mile—the smiling voice and the bespoke exchange—put in by GoTyme PBs in their personal transactions with clients does not go unnoticed. Emjhay shares that one time in his case, the client was really happy when he greeted her with enthusiasm. “Though the client sounded really frustrated with her case, she still managed to hold an even tone and was not cross at all. “I believe that's because she was assisted by a real human in her concern,” says Emjhay. “When I got to resolve her problem, she was really grateful and wanted to show her appreciation by commending me with nice words.”
For Ella, it’s more than just assisting clients with their issues or inquiries; she says it’s also about “celebrating our clients’ delightful moments with them."
“I once handled a client regarding one of GoTyme’s promos,” she continues. “She wanted to verify her rewards. She was so happy because of two reasons—she said using GoTyme Bank was truly worthwhile, and its customer service team was consistently and reliably helpful, which makes the entire experience genuinely convenient. GoTyme, she said, has never failed her.”
Ultimately, the goal of such personalization is the creation of a bank or financial products that are as dynamic as people’s lives. Therein lies the key to unlocking the financial potential of every Filipino.