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Opinions Fri, 27 Jul 2018

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Customer care in our banks and financial institutions. Who cares?

“We do have heart and we do care about the public…we’re here to protect and serve…

(It’s not the law, it is about humanity)”

Offices William Tracy

Tarrant, Alabama, USA

SOCIETE GENERALE is reported to be taking steps to raise an additional GH¢400 million minimum capital requirement of the Bank of Ghana. And as a result, the bank held a meeting last Tuesday (July 17), the first such meeting is nearly three years.

From pillars were identified by Sionle Yao, the Managing Director which defines the holistic transformation programmes:

Developing innovative products and channels and fostering digitalization.

Improving operational efficiency.

Fostering customer intimacy.

Developing human capital through specialized employee training.

Ever since 1993, I have been a customer of the Bank and indeed that is the only bank I have known and dealt with.

I needed some cash, and I approached the branch at Madina. I had no cheque-book, and I had no I.D. card. I was living in Kumasi, and had come to Accra on a certain mission. Nobody would listen to me – without a passport, NHIS Card, a Driver’s Licence, or a Voter’s ID card? Forget it. I came to my own branch at Tema, and a lady there was very cooperative. She pulled out my records, made a photo-copy of my personal details from the computer and attached it to the counter-cheque. A week later, I went to the same bank at Tema, and the lady refused to attend to me because of “administrative instructions” she had received. There was pressure on me, so I went to see the manager who after a lecture on “organizational procedure” took a “personal risk” to clear me, but upon instruction to tender my ID Card (which did not include the University of Ghana Visa Card in my possession. Two days later I had the following sent to me from Kumasi: my Passport, my Voter’s ID Card, my Driver’s Licence, my NHIS Card and my Baptismal Certificate.

I have narrated this personal experience because I could have been tempted to react ungentlemanly and also to bring into focus the brutish and fiendish incident that occurred at Midland Savings and Loans in East Legon, Accra. A uniformed police officer, L/CpI Frederick Amanor (a.k.a Skalla) wielding an AK 47 and pistol would not see “humanity” in the eye of a nursing mother who had gone to withdraw “something small” from her savings of GH¢270 – only to be pummeled into a pulp by an uncouth police officer who had been called by the bank officials get the woman out of the banking hall. We are even told that the woman had called at the bank about three times already, and denied attention; that Friday, she need at least GH¢25 to buy Lactogen for her fatherless grandchild begotten of her daughter who had gone off her rocker (mentally deranged). What! Was it an Azumah Nelson-Salvador Sanchez fight of July 1982? Even in that fight, our revered Azumah was felled in just as L/CpI Amanor was felled. But suppose the baby had not been rescued from the mother’s hands? So, is L/CpI Amanor married? With children? Is he a church-goer?…So many questions…?

We have watched videos of policemen in the U.S.A and China manhandling victims for resisting arrests. In the Beijing case, the police knocked the woman with her daughter down over a traffic offence. The child’s head hit the hard ground. Oh, pity.

But we also have videos of police officers in North Carolina who responded to a report of theft at Food Lion supermarket. Interviewing the shop-lifter, it was revealed that she “…had to go out and steal food, and that’s desperate, and my kids were hungry…” The kids had not eaten for three days. The police officer, Bradshows, seeing that the woman’s refrigerator was bare, used his own money to buy foodstuffs for the lady. It was ‘humanity’ against the ‘law’.

The NPP Women’s Organiser, Kate Gyamfua has donated cash, the sum of GH¢5000 to the woman in the Midland assault case, and bags of rice. The head of MASLOC, Mr. Stephen Amoah, has pledged to give a loan to the victim, Patience Osafo to expand her business and also offer a scholarship to her grandchild up to the tertiary level. Other offers make Patience Osafo the richer up to about GH¢50,000!

The IGP, Mr. Appeatu has ordered the detention of L/CpI Amanor, for unprofessional conduct. The Minister of Gender, Otiko Djaba has roundly condemned the attack, so have all the identifiable ministries and civil societies, including Women in the Media, Ghana Bar Association, T.U.C, and IMANI. The President has stated: “…Policemen are meant to protect citizens and not to assault; the measures that the IGP has taken to sanction the erring policeman and to make sure these don’t happen again, have my support”.

The family of L/CpI Amanor has condemned the action describing it as “barbaric, inhumane and antithesis to the professional training in the police”. They plead with Ghanaians to help them “apologise to Ms. Patience Osafo for the savage beatings…”

The Midland Bank has distanced itself from the act, and “…regret to say that our staff on duty at the time of the incident could not restrain the police officer from inflicting any further harm to our customer…As an institution that prides itself in quality customer service… all staff involved have been suspended as internal disciplinary procedures continue”.

Customer – care should be an important aspect of the culture of any bank, a financial institution in this fast-moving world. As Washburn Financial Services put it: “Because of increased competition, banks are required to become more and more customer – focused”. It is considered more costly to seek new customers than it is to retain existing ones. This kind of training is expected to eschew the stark display of insouciance and arrogance of bank tellers and other officials.

It is conceded that the police do tremendous work- to rid our society from criminals, and to protect citizens. These assignments are often done professionally by some police officers. Bravo to them, especially for taking personal risks, just to ensure our protection and safety. However, the recent reports of police brutalities and unprofessional behavior have dented their image. Investigations are now going on in the case of the Asawase killings of seven “suspected armed robbers”, so not much will be said for now. Let truth be told, and there should not be any hanky-panky or skuldou-gerry. The forty-six police peace keepers sent back home for allegedly sexually abusing women under their protection should be a matter of concern for the police administration.

Citizens are advised to stay away from trouble. There is no need to provoke an armed police or military officer, just because when you are assaulted you can earn up to GH¢50,000 free.

L/CpI Amanor and others like him may get stranded. You see where over-zealousness to please a senior person could lead you? Of course, as a human rights advocate, I would say, L/CpI Amanor needs our protection too. In ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Portia, the ‘Lawyer’, pleads.

“The quality of mercy is not strained; It drappeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath…And earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice”.

Columnist: dailyguideafrica.com

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