DBS Bank’s strong financial performance has been welcomed by both shareholders and employees, spelling dividends and bonuses (DBS’ Q3 profit up 18% to $2.63b, surpassing analysts’ expectations, Nov 7).
Customers, however, may be less enthusiastic. The good performance may, in part, be due to the steady reduction of physical branches and customer-facing staff, and an increasing shift towards online transactions.
This happens under the rubric of digitalisation and ease of transaction, but conveniently takes much cost out of the business. Queue times at the bank’s remaining branches can be long, and responses slow when reaching out to its call centre for help.
We have seen how vulnerable the DBS online platforms can be to disruptions, and the fines that have been imposed on the bank for the outages seem trifling compared with its profits.
Even as the bank modernises its services, the balance between cost-efficiency and customer service should be adjusted to favour the customer, if necessary, over profits.
DBS is a business that needs to be profitable, but as Singapore’s largest bank, it has a responsibility to consider the interests of its customers, who are also vital stakeholders.
On a positive note, I must commend DBS staff. Those I have encountered have always been polite, helpful and efficient, and are a credit to the bank.
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