The BITE index
(The Banking Industry Telephone Efficiency Index)
By Walsbridge Ltd.
For most businesses, the telephone is often the first contact with existing customers and perhaps
the only point of contact with most prospective clients. It can potentially make or break a business
relationship. When customers call a company, they expect an undivided attention. They don’t want
to be kept waiting, they need prompt answers and they need to trust the information they receive is
accurate. Because first impressions are lasting, and often such first impressions are done over the
phone, the customer will make an estimation of the business by how his or her call is handled (from
start to finish). When calls are answered professionally, courteously, and warmly, a prospective
client would likely stop shopping around because he/she has been given a reason and the
confidence to do business with you. And it gives existing customers who are happy with your
product or service, an additional motivation to come back with repeat purchase and referrals.
Apart from face-to-face, a phone call is one of the best ways to get a personal response. If the
person or institution called is available, business can be taking care of on the spot saving significant
amount of time and money. Additionally, phones require minimal literacy or numeracy for basic use
which means that unlike other forms of communication such as emails, text messaging, live chats, or
social media, virtually anyone can make or receive phone calls without much hassle. That is why
acquiring telephone is one of the basic and most important requirements for setting up and running
successful businesses. Unfortunately, many organisations in Ghana; including private, government
and non-governmental organisations still struggle to make this work to their advantage and to the
convenience of their clients. On daily basis people waste precious time in traffic and queue for long
hours in many establishment just to acquire information and services they could have easily
accomplished at the comfort of their homes and offices simply because poor corporate telephone
practices. Without credible data, it’ll be very challenging to effectively improve on the situation and
learn from best practices.
The Banking Industry Telephone Efficiency Index (THE BITE INDEX) survey was designed and
implemented by Walsbridge, an independent market research and business intelligence firm, to
provide sound data to measure and benchmark corporate telephone practices in the banking
industry. And to provide insights to help other organisations to significantly improve corporate
telephone handling skills to match international best practices. The research acknowledges other
portals for service and information acquisition such as websites, and other e-banking platforms.
These portals provide alternative access to existing and prospective clients to access products and
service as far as permissible.
Using telephone mystery shopping technique, quantitative data was collected over a seven-month
period from 211 branches selected from 23 commercial banks. The main categories that were
investigated were: Response Rate, Telephone Handling Etiquette, Product and Service
Presentation, Pricing Information Consistency, Overall BITE.The Banking Industry Telephone Accessibility Index by Walsbridge (+233) 020 9223311 2
What percentage of phone calls was answered?
The call response rate is the percentage of calls successfully answered by the intended recipients.
This rate is important because high response rate suggest that the telephone numbers were:
1. Correct or valid
2. Connected at all times
3. Answered when it rings
4. Answered by the right branch or person
5. Answered by an answering machine and successfully transferred to the right person, branch
79% of phone calls are likely to experience one of more of the following responses:
Answered by wrong persons and/or wrong branches
Invalid telephone number (numbers that are more or less than 10 digits)
Ring and disconnects almost instantaneously
Answered by answering machines that persistently fail to transfer calls
Number does not exist
Switched off or out of coverage area etc.
Why are calls not being answered?
The response rate suggests that prospective (and existing) clients that do not have direct access to
relationship managers, bank staff or other reliable means of communicating directly with their
branches , have only 2 out of 10 chances of getting through to their preferred branch using official
telephone lines. It this situation may be actively contributing to excessive queuing in banking halls.
The banking institution with the highest response rate scored 53%. The research findings have
significance beyond the banking industry; to the extent that the index could be indicative of the
prevailing service and professional standards in the country.
Other obstaclesApart from some of the technical challenges that can clearly be attributed to poor services form
telephone service providers, a significant percentage of calls that connect were ignored. Even
though the research did not sought to explain why? One of more of the following theories may
i. Indifference: Situations where staff become comfortable ignoring inbound calls simply
because they can do so without any consequences.
ii. Lack of effective monitoring system: Without effective monitoring system it is nearly
impossible for organisations to know how bad the situation is or how many times
prospective customers have to try to get through to their preferred branches on phone.
iii. Lack of dedicated staff to inbound calls: Most of the time simple problems require simple
solutions. When a phone rings somebody must answer it. Not because he/she has nothing
else to do but because it is his/her responsibility to do so. Many organisations treat inbound
calls as secondary and therefore do not have dedicated staff to attend to them.
iv. Obsolete service protocols: Phone calls may not be answered because client service
executives are busy attending to walk-in clients and many institutions have standard
protocols that indicate that walk-in clients take precedence over phone-in clients. This is
evident in the results of this survey where 16% of surveyed branches informed the research
team that they were busy attending to walk-in clients and therefore the caller should call
back later or come to the banking hall for the information. There’s no justifiable reason why
clients accessing information via telephone should compete with walk-in clients.
In addition to the response rate, the research also benchmarked best practices and challenges regarding
telephone etiquette (including call transfer and holds), Product & Service Presentation, Pricing Information
Consistency, the overall BITE INDEX. Call Walsbridge on 0209223311 for the full report.