A few days ago, I was invited to moderate a conversation on Nigerians' experiences with banks. The conversation got me reflecting about brand loyalty for SMEs, especially about how or why I've remained with GTBank, despite the recent challenges & seeing GTB trend everyday. Thread
I opened my GTBank account 16yrs ago. I was 17 & fresh in Uni. I needed an account so bad & urgently. All other banks requirements were cumbersome & not student friendly. So I gave up & kept my funds in my locker. Then one sunny day, a group of ladies walked up to us with forms.
We didn't need any complicated documents. We didn't need to come to the bank. Heck, we didn't even need to have a dime. And we could maintain the account even at zero balance. And we didn't need a withdrawal slip too. I remember telling my friend, Dimeji, that it was bobo.
Dimeji then had an account with one of the older banks then, can't remember which, & was always stranded anytime he didn't go around with his withdrawal slip. Or he will be charged to withdraw. All the money we had then was like 5-10k, so even 500naira felt like 5k to us.
So we found it too good to be true. But indeed, we filled the forms, got texts the next day, welcoming us to GTBank. We were to get our ATM cards when we want at Bodija! I was elated. I loved going into GTB Bodija's lovely branch, drink their water, & eat cake on special days.
It was my first banking experience & it felt so special. The brand, staff, the finesse with which they did things all appealed to me. As I evolved, circumstances had me opening other accounts, so I was constantly comparing & seeing how GTB was leading on innovation & experience.
We will all gather at bars and argue about Nigerian banks and how GTBank was the disruptor. So it broke my heart when the recent challenges started & downtimes became more frequent than it used to be. Like some others, I used other banks, I called them out, I lashed them and all.
But soon realised it's a systemic problem. I think that at times, we get so angry with our service providers and SME vendors that we forget they are also doing business in the same operating environment as us - poor electricity, poor network infrastructure, over-regulation, etc.
I then noticed that moving between banks is a waste of time. And I stuck with GTB. But I think it's more of loyalty. They were there giving me CEO experience when I was just a student experiencing sapa. Not just as a customer, I grew with the bank & bought shares many years ago.
That's where it gets harder. You can't own shares in GTBank & not love them. The value to shareholders is mindblowing. I wrote a few days ago when I got paid 2020 dividends that GTBank dividends will make you forget the banking sector challenges. They run a super-efficient bank.
GTBank manages its operations in a way that places shareholders at heart. And the numbers are there - earnings per share of 15.45% CAGR from N1.69 in 2011 to N7.11 in 2020. I remember getting dividends twice a year for several years. I doubt any other company has done that.
So I'm willing to stake it with GTBank. And I think it's a lesson for SMEs. What are you doing to build brand loyalty? Have you built formidable customer experiences in the past that make your customers stick with you even when there are challenges? These are my reflections. End