Comparing Banking Customer Experiences in Kazakhstan: Insights from CEI

Comparing Banking Customer Experiences in Kazakhstan: Insights from CEI
06/26/24
06/26/24
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Author:Alexey Veretenov
Source: PLUSworld

In 2023, despite turbulence in Kazakhstan’s banking system, the assets and liabilities of financial institutions remained largely unaffected. However, Kazakh banks have increasingly migrated online, driven by a global shift towards digital innovation and technology, highlighting the importance of delivering great customer experiences to maintain a strong position in the market.  

Alexey Veretenov, Managing Partner of Senteo Inc., explains the results of the latest Customer Experience Index (CEI) research to shed light on what makes customers choose their bank, banking trends in the country, the top rankings, and the development predictions for 2024.

Structure of the Customer Experience Index (CEI)  

Understanding and managing customer experience can significantly increase a bank’s revenue per customer and enhance the customer’s lifetime value (CLV) by broadening the range of products and services a customer uses. Conversely, negative customer experiences can reduce profits and pose reputational risks to the bank. 

Developed by Senteo in 2007, the CEI methodology enables banks with extensive branch networks to compare service levels across their branches and benchmark against other banks and even other industries. The CEI measures customer experience across five business components: Brand, Communications, Environment, Offering, and Culture. For a better understanding of the methodology, visit the CEI web page

The Big Four auditors (Deloitte, PWC, E&Y, and KPMG) have confirmed the strong correlation between the CEI and three key business indicators: sales performance, revenue, and customer loyalty. For instance, banks with higher CEI scores enjoy better customer acquisition and cross-selling results, perceive price premiums, on average, 60% higher than their competitors, and maintain stronger customer relationships with lower churn rates. 

The Experience of Global Banks  

Over the past 17 years, Senteo has applied the CEI methodology to banks in 10 countries worldwide with various results. The research of the banking systems in Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan revealed that only a portion of banks achieved a CEI score of 3 points or higher, with a volatility rate (spread of values) ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 points. 

A CEI score of 3 points represents the minimum standards required in developed markets and is the expected level for actively developing countries. Global best practices reflect CEI values exceeding 4.50. 

Notably, top managers in some banks have developed such a trust of the Index that they also use it as an internal Key Performance Indicator (KPI). 

Research Methodology  

Senteo carefully selects banks for study and compiles a list of the branches that will be visited. Then, certified mystery shoppers, trained by Senteo, visit each branch equipped with standardized scoring cards to maintain research integrity, and assess the whole customer journey, from entering to leaving the branch. 

CEI Index Survey Results for Kazakh Banks 

In 2023, Kazakhstan had 21 commercial banks in operation. Senteo researchers conducted a comprehensive survey covering 16 Kazakhstani banks across the first, third, and fourth quarters, as well as the entire year of 2023. The comparative findings of this research are detailed in Figure 1. 

CEI in Banks of Kazakh banks: Q1, Q3, Q4 2023 and Full-Year Overview  

CEI in banks of Kazakhstan in Q1, Q3, Q4 of 2023 and for 2023 as a Whole 
Fig. 1  

In Q1 2023, the average CEI value was 2.89 points on a 5-point scale. Six months later, this value increased to 3.23 points but then slightly decreased to 3.14 points at the end of the year. Similar growth and decline patterns were observed across all five CEI parameters: Brand, Communications, Environment, Offering, and Culture. Additionally, the volatility rate fluctuated, rising initially to 2.00 and then decreasing to 1.95 by the end of 2023. 

The decline in the CEI rating in Q4 2023 is primarily attributed to two critical components:  Communications and Culture. This fluctuating pattern may indicate a shift in focus from customer communications to the digitalization of business processes, the development of higher service standards, and the gradual resolution of inconsistencies. A simultaneous increase in the volatility rate reflects the variability in customers’ experiences across different branches of the same bank.  

Based on the survey results, Senteo has identified the top 5 banks ranked by the CEI at the end of 2023: Kaspi Bank, ForteBank, CenterCredit, Halyk Bank, Jusan Bank ranked in the top 5 banks at the end of 2023: (see Figure 2). 

Customer Experience Index (CEI) and 2023 Volatility Ratings of Banks in Kazakhstan 

Customer Experience Index (CEI) and Volatility Ratings of Banks in Kazakhstan, 2023 
Fig. 2  

A modern bank comprises not just its headquarters but also a nationwide network of branches. Maintaining consistent corporate service standards at each branch is essential for fostering stable customer loyalty across different regions. This consistency can either elevate a bank’s brand as a symbol of quality or contribute to customer turnover. 

To gauge the uniformity of customer experiences across branches, Senteo employs the CEI Volatility Rating in its research. Lower volatility scores indicate higher consistency in customer experiences across the bank’s network. While an average volatility score of 1.00 is acceptable and avoids customer frustration or inflated expectations, international best practices recommend aiming for a level no higher than 0.50. 

Breakthroughs in Kazakhstan’s Banking System in 2023 

The turbulence within Kazakhstan’s banking system has impacted the CEI global rankings, prompting significant adjustments as institutions strive to improve profitability and operational efficiency. 

Top 5 Kazakhstani Banks Making Breakthroughs in 2023 

Top 5 Kazakhstani Banks That Made Breakthroughs in 2023
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Brand
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Communications
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Environment
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Offering
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Culture

Jusan Bank emerges as the standout of the year across all CEI components, achieving a remarkable 0.6-point increase in its Customer Experience Index, primarily driven by significant improvements in their corporate culture and how the front line staff relates to customers. This increase significantly surpasses the average threshold of 3.0 points.  

Another noteworthy performer, Home Credit Bank, also surpasses the 3.0-point milestone with a 0.5-point increase throughout the year, attributed to improvements in Brand, Communications, and Environment components.  

The recent change in ownership sets the bank on course to leave the sanctions regime and maintain its growth momentum into 2024. 

While other banks striving for breakthroughs have yet to reach the 3.0-point CEI threshold, their diligent efforts suggest potential profitability gains in 2024, provided they maintain their focus on consistently delivering improved customer experiences. 

Retail vs Corporate (SME) Segments 

The comparison between the customer experience in the Retail and the Corporate segments throws the results shown in Figure 4. 

CEI Comparative Analysis: Retail vs. Corporate Segments in Kazakhstani Banks, 2023. 

CEI 2023 Kazakhstan Retail
CEI 2023 Kazakhstan SME

The average CEI rating in the corporate segment surpasses that of the retail segment and the overall indicator, highlighting Kazakhstani banks’ readiness to serve corporate clientele effectively. Market leaders such as Kaspi Bank and Forte Bank consistently achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, approaching global best practices. Corporate customers demonstrate higher satisfaction levels with these banks. Notably, Forte Bank’s lower volatility rating compared to the market (1.74 versus 2.02–2.05 points) underscores its commitment to standardized service across branches and maintaining superior service quality. 

Conclusions 

The analysis of Kazakhstan’s banking system through the Customer Experience Index (CEI) reveals confident market leaders who consistently prioritize customer experience management, achieving scores that approach or exceed 3.5 points, in alignment with global best practices. 

In 2023, the overall CEI score for Kazakhstan reached 3.07 points, closely approaching the minimum threshold of 3.0 points indicative of a transition towards a customer-centric business model. These results position Kazakhstan as the most dynamically evolving market in Central Asia. The CEI volatility rating of 2.04 points indicates varying customer experiences across branches of the same bank. 

Senteo’s research platform presents CEI values for 16 banks. In 2023, several banks made significant strides in customer experience management, achieving breakthroughs across all CEI components. If this momentum continues, these proactive banks are well-positioned to increase their financial performance and achieve higher profitability rankings in 2024. 

On average, although Kazakhstani banks exhibit stronger readiness to serve the corporate segment, we predict an enhanced for retail clients to emerge in 2024. 

Years of using this research tool worldwide have shown us that businesses that systematically enhance customer experience, foster a culture of customer engagement, and improve the perception customers have of their brand tend to translate into higher customer acquisition, customer engagement, and loyalty, and building long-term relationships. Senteo’s analysis of the research findings aims at helping Kazakhstani banks pinpoint key areas for development in 2024, promoting stability and ensuring sustainable growth. 

You can also find the latest top bank ratings for Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan

06/26/24

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