Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am SO embarrassed for Arab Bank

So, I just finished going to the bank. You rarely see me post anything about this because I avoid the banks in Jordan like the plague. For those outside Jordan, there are drive-up tellers or other things to make life easier. You actually have to go and sit at the branch to do teller functions. And when I say sit, I mean sit. Typically going to an Arab Bank branch takes between 30 and 45 minutes. I know, right? It takes 30 minutes to go to the bank. Oh, and add to that the fact that their luxuriously long hours occur only when people are working. So, in order to go to the bank, you have to take time off work. Imagine...

At any rate, today I had to go to the bank to get dollars. This isn't something that I can do at an ATM. I can get dinars, but not dollars (as is logical). El 3atal would have done it, but he discovered the need on the weekend... when the bank is closed. So, I get left to do it. So, I headed out just before 11 to take care of the matter. Expecting a short wait (I was hoping for 15 or 20 minutes as has occurred upon occasion), I took a number and sat... and sat... and sat. Today's extravaganza took an hour. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I waited 55 minutes and then took 5 minutes to get the cash I needed.

When I arrived and took a number, I got number 97. Exciting. When I sat down and look around, I realized they were on number 83. Uh-oh. I could see the trouble brewing. Now, ask me why it only took an hour... come on, ask me. It only took an hour because fully 50% of the people with numbers between 83 and 97 gave up and left. Really, half the folks went away. I don't know if they went to another branch, resolved to try again another day, or resorted to more extreme measures to get done what they needed to get done. So, I sat for an hour for them to cover 6 or so numbers.

Now, you may be wondering why they took so long. Is their process broken? Are they inefficient? Were they distracted? Were there too few tellers? Yes. Yes to all of the above. Their processes appear to have come out of the last century. You are required to swear in blood that you are who you say you are (slight exaggeration, but not a huge one). You have to sign the withdrawal slip 3 times. Literally 3 times. And they have to click on the computer for several minutes. But, that's only if you're doing the simple 5 minute withdrawal. Most of the people in the line required far more intervention. One fellow, a Saudi I'm fairly certain based on his dress, took at least 30 minutes. And when she finally finished processing his needs (you could tell by the relief and how anxious she was to push the button calling up the next customer), he asked for something else that took 10 more minutes.

Now, when I arrived in the bank and sat down, there were approximately 15 people sitting and waiting. To help those 15 people, they had 2 tellers. Yes, 2 tellers. There was a third who seemed to help when he wasn't processing large cash deposits from businesses. So, they had too few tellers given the 40 minute Saudi problem. In effect, there were 2 tellers who were trying their best and being stuck in molasses by customers with needs that actually should have a "going to take an hour" counter ;). They also had 3 people that you could see who were not serving customers at all. One eventually started helping the people with the other numbers (no idea what they were as it was in Arabic only and I have no idea what it said). But that wasn't until at least 25 minutes into my wait... She didn't handle a single number before that. I guess the attitude was sucks to be you?

Seriously, today's trip to the bank was beyond belief. As a result, in true MommaBean fashion, I asked to speak with the branch manager. I had to ask her if she was as embarrassed for her bank as I am. When I first asked after her, the girl at the information desk told me her office is on the first floor, you can go see her. I asked her to have the manager come down (duh). She did. Giving credit where it is due, the manager was absolutely as nice as she could be (as was the teller she was very friendly, smiling, and professional). I do think she was embarrassed as well. Maybe not at the wait, but at the fact that a customer would actually complain to her, teehee. She explained that they were a teller down because of an emergency situation and she had asked management for support and additional tellers. I presume they didn't come through. Management, you should definitely be embarrassed. And then she made the offer that those of us in Jordan are often familiar with... if you come again and are in a hurry, you can come to my office and I'll take care of it.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, if how mediocrity is embraced. If you're the minor percentage of customers who actually expects decent and timely service, come to my office on an exception basis and we'll get you taken care of quickly. Now, really, is that any solution to fixing a broken set of processes and hiring more staff? Given Arab Bank's profits every year, I think they can hire another minimum age drone (not that there's a minimum wage, I wouldn't have any idea, but you get the point). So, for me, I'll continue to avoid the bank like the plague that it is. I rarely have the time to go and just sit and waste a day. And I'll dream of the day when mediocre isn't good enough, not because the customer complains but because inside ourselves we believe that we owe it to US to deliver the best. That's my dream for Jordan.

Happy waiting for quality!


At 3:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second your complaint.

However, in desperation to avoid Arab Bank waiting times, I would have withdrawn the money from the ATM and then exchanged for dollars at one of those exchange offices. If they don't offer as good of an exchange rate, I would have written off the difference as an expense for time saved.

I just realized that I live my life in Jordan looking for "work-around" solutions due to the crappy service standards. :-)

At 4:04 AM , Anonymous Dina Shoman said...

Hello... I am sorry that you had this experience at our bank. I would very much like to know which branch this was at, and what day, so we can look into it to make sure this is not a reoccuring matter and not a one-off.

I assure you, we always strive to be as efficient as possible; it might have been an unusual circumstance, during peak time, and with absent employees and an unusually long issue to solve, it could cause delays.

In any case, here is my email, please feel free to send me the information, and I shall forward it to our Service Excellence team to look in to:

Best Regards,

Dina Shoman
EVP - Branding

At 6:17 AM , Blogger Haitham Seelawi said...

Don't you just wish that their service was as quick as the comment you got from them? LOL!

At 6:20 AM , Blogger Haitham Seelawi said...

FYI, Emi and MommaBean, "Shoman" the family name of the lady who commented on behalf of the Arab bank, is the family name of the owners of the Arabic bank. Just so that you ladies know ;)

At 9:07 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Haitham, thanks I am aware. Emi, been there. Am there... Dina, I will definitely send you a private e-mail about the issues that I have encountered at the branch. Thanks for your responsiveness.

At 9:58 AM , Anonymous jaraad said...

I think you feel more annoyed than other Jordanians going to banks because you know how good customer service should be. You experienced it when you were in America. In Jordan, as Emi beautifully described it "crappy service standards". For someone who has never lived outside Jordan, the customer service he gets is the standard.
I think it was nice from Ms. Shoman to comment on your post. Hopefully, your complaint will help improve customer service in Arab Bank and other Jordanian Banks.

At 11:11 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Jaraad, unfortunately that is likely the case. However, I would hope that such industry leaders as the Arab Bak would strive toward better than "crappy service standards"... I agree, I'm glad that she commented and hope perhaps they can improve their service as a result.

At 11:21 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Wow...MommaBean posts, and people answer! I am SO impressed.

Dina Shoman is a delightful young lady. You will both enjoy meeting one another.

Very sad about your experience, to be sure.I know you have MUCH to do in your day other than spend it at the bank.

At 12:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


As an Iskan Bank customer, my ATM asks me if I want my withdrawal in Dollars or Dinars so I guess I have a choice. Score one for Iskan Bank / Housing Bank for trade and Finance.

At 11:03 PM , Anonymous Dina Shoman said...

Hi there,

Just for information purposes, we have a few ATM's that do give dollars, they are at the following locations:

Down Town
2 at the Airport
Next to RJ Amman city terminal
Intercontinental Hotel Amman
Close to Safeway close to airport road
Gardens Branch
Intercontinental Aqaba

I look forward to receiving your email so we can look into this.

Best Regards,

Dina Shoman
EVP - Branding

At 8:58 AM , Blogger Betsy said...

I've never had a bank experience in Jordan any different than what you've described. Which is to say, I think the entire industry should be mortified at their horrendous service.

At 1:16 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Wow, Dina, I had no idea. Thanks. Not sure if they have limits, but that's definitely worth a try next time. I'm a huge fan of the ATM...

Anon, unfortunately, Iskan is just not convenient to my life. And, I suspect that they have their own share of issues.

Betsy, yeah. Sadly, although the wait time was crazy-long (and always is at every bank), at least the people are nice... which is more than I can say for HSBC, where our other account is held. Sigh.


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