Is GT Bank Retail strategy paying off?

In the retail market, you cannot Ignore Client Experience

Anyone who lived in Nigeria in the early 1990’s to mid 2000 will attest that GT Bank was the hallmark of professionalism and banking.

The lure to work in GT’s professional environment led to corporate arrogance of offering employment to experienced hires at a lateral position level. I even applied for employment and was offered a job after meeting with Segun Agbaje (over 10 years ago) but i declined due to personal reasons.

That was the GT Bank that I know and encouraged me to open an account prior to searching for greener pastures.

Fast forward to 9 years after, I returned back due to a bereavement and realized what used to represent a beacon of banking industry has turned to a monumental failure: the question is why?

Is this a failed retail strategy?

My observation in banking halls of GT Bank shows that Client experience was at the lowest and it seems the once respected culture has vanished. Banking halls were filled with frustrated customers who were finding it difficult to gain access to their hard earned money- Incredible!.

On the other side, I was at two other banks for comparison and what was outstanding to me was the difference in ambience of banking halls and better client experience.

This was not an isolated case of one branch as i visited three branches (Lekki, Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Ikosi Branch, Magodo).

What happened GT Bank? A failed retail strategy.

It felt like the branches were buried in massive confusion of dealing with retail clients and poor tools to work which included massive paper work to sign up for product and services with limited automation e.g. Same account product information has to be completed 2-3 times to sign-on for different product (ATM Card, Online banking etc).

In my opinion the following needs to be quickly addressed:

  1. Training of branch staff about client Experience.
  2. Mystery shopping to gain deep understanding of client issues.
  3. Online solution to address the line up at customer service desk to reduce waiting time (existing average of 1-1.5hours).
  4. Reducing/simplifying the form the onerous forms completion to sign up for product and services.

Boutique visit 3 at Ten thousand villages.

We had a very interactive session at ten thousand villages that has a similar business model like Oye India. This is a non-for profit organization that only uses part of its revenue for administration and the balance is paid to the artisan based on a Fair Trade model of helping the talented artisan to be gainfully employed and get benefit of their labour based on healthy relationship and dignity of labour.

We had a long wait at the store before we could speak to the manager and there were a lot of customers going in and out of the store. This afforded us the opportunity to view the buying patterns and decision making process of the customers.

One opprtunity that the review of the product afforded us is that some of our intended products are not available at this boutique and the quality of their items are not high end; which can provide us a market opportunity for differentiation.

Design and uniqueness plays a huge factor and customers buy some of the products as gift to friends and loved ones. In a discussion between the store manager and a customer; it shows that there are a lot of repeat customers who pay frequent visit to the store.

In our discussion with the store manager, she confirmed that there is a lot of demand and the store is always busy. She gave us helpful feedback that price point is something we need to put special attention to pricing decision.

Feedback on the product that may be attractive in the market reveals that we should be considering product 5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,16,17,18,20,23,24,25 and 27.

We obtained the feedback that customized product is in high demand and quality forms the partnering basis for products.

The store manager provided us the opportunity to come back for a return discussion that will be helpful for our business venture.

Boutique visitation 2 at Aut Lit Fine linens

Aut Lit Fine linens, 2045 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S 2A2.

The next visitation was to Aut Lit Fine linen that a high end boutique that is successful and family owned by mother-daughter team, Joanna Goodman and Peggy Byron. The company has been in business since 1981 with quality fabric, excellent service and expertise. They source the world’s finest linens made of Egyptian cotton and other material fromIndia but the sewing is done out of Montreal.

 We showed the company the catalogue of products that we were planning to sell. They found the products very attractive and offered us feedback that the design and quality were excellent. The preference of products that they have is 4, 5, 10, 11, 17, 20, and 24.

We received a feedback that the demand for the quilt is good and it will be profitable if we have a good price point.

Though partnership discussion is not what they could discuss at the moment we obtained a feedback that there is increased sensitivity for buyers to patronize Canadian made goods due to added benefit to the society in this tough economic times.

Boutique visitation number 1 LUCCA

We conducted the visit to three Boutiques in Torontoas part of our activities on the 25th of November 2011. This was to validate some of the Hypothesis in our Questionnaire. 

Lucca:The first that we visited was Lucca located at 2031 Yonge St, Toronto ON, M4S 2A2 Phone:416-485-4999

Approximately: three employees work at this company and they generate sales of between $500,000 and $1,000,000 on an annual basis.

Based on our discussion with the proprietress her business model is to source all the materials used for the bedding from India and Import them to Canada. The custom tariff involved is 18% and further print and designs are completed in Toronto. She supplies bedding and quilt to a lot of customers in the US and Canada.

In our interview process, she informed us that the print is a minimal aspect of the production cost; this could be done in India but the problem is that the company would have to pay custom duty for the export to US, if the production is completed in India due to no North America content.

The company is doing the print in Toronto because they enjoys tariff free sales to US due to the NAFTA treaty that covers sales within

North America.

She affirmed that in the last five years, Canadian buyers have warmed up to purchases of items from India and our business looks viable given our product line.

The proprietress indicated interest in proving mentorship and working with us if needed and we are free to come back for further sessions as the need arises.

Interview Questions
Hypothesis 1: There is market of hand made high-end lifestyle products, which are influenced by centuries old Indian tradition.
1. Have they ever shopped for Hand made products?

2. If yes, what product and from where?

3. What do you take into account when buying a hand made product?

4. Show the selected products (around 20) from the Handmade in India Catalog and ask the customers to choose the 5 they like most.

Hypothesis 2:Customer will pay premium price because of its uniqueness (handcrafted and centuries old history) and because they care about social cause aspect.

a. “Would you take it for free?” If “yes”, “Would you pay for it?” if “yes”, “how much?”

b. After that question, explain buyers about our products’ value on the social and environmental cause, and ask “Would you consider social cause when you make a decision? What difference would it make on your purchasing decision?

5. Would you like this product to be customized?

6. If yes what kind of customization would they like?
• Design
• Color
• Material
• Same print/pattern etc but on a different product (Open ended question; Get details)

Hypothesis 3: We can sell high-end lifestyle products online.

1. Would you buy these products online?

2. If no, why?

Hypothesis 4(for interview with boutique stores): High-end boutique stores will be interested in partnering with us.

1. Show the boutique manager the catalog and ask whether they would be interested in partnering with us?

2. Is there a demand of these kinds of products?

3. If we customized the products to customer’s need do they see more demand?

4. What criteria do they use for partnering with different suppliers?

Demographic & General Information

1. Gender
o Male
o Female

2. Age
i. 15 or under
ii. 16 to 20
iii. 21 to 25
iv. 26 to 30
v. 31 to 35
vi. 36 to 40
vii. 41 to 45
viii. 46 to 50
ix. 51 or over

3. Education
What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed? If currently enrolled, mark the previous grade or highest degree received.
o No schooling completed
o High School
o Attended College
o Undergraduate Degree
o Graduate School
o Doctorate Degree (for example: PhD, EdD)

4. Employment Status
Are you currently…?
o Employed for wages
o Self-employed
o Out of work and looking for work
o Out of work but not currently looking for work
o A homemaker
o A student
o Retired
o Unable to work

5. Where Do They Live:
(Indicator of Income level)

6. What Do They Like To Do? What is your top lifestyle activity?
a. Hobbies and Collectibles
b. Home and Gardening
c. Home Decor and Design
d. Parenting
e. Home/Family
f. Women
g. Fashion/Cosmetics
h. Fragrances/Cosmetics
i. Jewelry/Luxury Goods

7. Where Else Do They Shop Online?