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Why most bank customers prefer tellers over machines

By Otiato Guguyu | January 18th 2019

A majority Kenyans prefer to be served by a teller as opposed to using automated services at their local bank, a new survey shows.

According to the survey by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), eight in ten Kenyans prefer consulting a human being rather than robots, chat-bots and other Artificial Intelligence models of customer service.

“Bank customers in Kenya have not yet warmed up to the idea of robots and artificial intelligence and would rather have humans handle their customer service needs,” said KBA Director of Communications and Public Affairs Nuru Mugambi during the report’s launch in Nairobi yesterday.

The found that robots handling customer care, technology-driven service, including mobile banking are the most preferred of bank channels at 49 per cent followed by online banking (16 per cent) and ATMs (15 per cent).

However, KBA said further research is needed to establish whether this trend owes to low levels of awareness about the value proposition of chatbots, robots and other emerging data-driven Artificial Intelligence technologies. Email correspondence is the second most liked way through which customers want to engage with their bankers, with the highest preference among older respondents.

Younger respondents, especially those in their 20s and 30s did show a greater acceptance rate when compared to respondents over 40 years of age.

Banks have taken advantage of the rise in technology use to replace the workforce with digital channels, especially with the advent of the rate cap, increasing focus on mobile lending as opposed to the brick and mortar model.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya, banking sector staff levels decreased by 2,790  (8.29 per cent)  from  33,693  in  December  2016  to  30,903  in December  2017.

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