This is a long overdue post. I have been wanting to write this piece because I am genuinely impressed with the services of Sterling Bank of Asia (SBA).
First of all, it is important to clarify that this is not a paid/sponsored post and I rarely write blogs/articles for commercial entities. On those rare times that I do, it is only because I feel it is important to share great services or point out areas for improvement so that the the public may best be served.
These are the areas that I feel are very important (and which are missing in many banks these days):
1. Genuine customer focus orientation (and not simply lip service) – with SBA, one will not feel like you are just a “peso or dollar sign” to them; somehow, I observe this culture of pagmamalasakit (it’s hard to translate this word to English directly but it’s a combination of concern and empathy) where they genuinely help you achieve your goals; sure, banks are not supposed to be charitable organizations but with SBA, there is a good balance between profits and business ethics and social values;
2. Equal treatment of clients, big or small – no matter who you are, you easily sense their respect with the way they treat people and clients. It is not based on what you are wearing, how “rich” you look, or how high your bank balance is. I find this very refreshing because several months ago, I discovered a big bank’s discriminatory practices/policies vis-a-vis accounts of their small (or assumed to be “small”) clients. (And we’re not even talking of some branch managers who look at you from head to toe if you try to approach them, probably trying to guess how much is the shirt/dress that you are wearing or those who attend first to their billionaire clients before, say, an aspiring SME owner….you get the drift) ;D
I think big banks should finally realize that many Filipinos (especially the working class) avoid banks or do not save at all (there is a study about it).* There is a big market out there but because many from these untapped segment do not trust banks or find them unapproachable, they are not motivated to bank or save up. Another factor is the tendency to penalize small or temporarily small depositors due to low bank balances. This has to be addressed because (1) the system somehow balances itself (e.g., big depositors somehow “subsidize” services for small players); (2) normal people (even high-income people and investors) have ebb and flow in their finances and have changing needs and circumstances; (3) a system of incentive is better than penalties–example, why penalize someone who needs to invest and withdraw a lot of funds? Why not simply incentivize people who maintain higher balances than penalize those who have other circumstances?
I think these simple principles are not even in the radar of many of the biggest banks! One gets the feeling that clients are just “milking cows”! In SBA, they do not make you feel this way. Sure, they have to follow Central Bank regulations, too, but they go out of their way to make clients feel secure, understood, and supported!
3. Professional and attentive personnel – their people are obviously well trained; the first time I made a call, the voice on the other line sounded professional and attentive and this remains to be so even now that I have been with them for more than a year! It is very consistent. The lady (during the first call) did not just give me generic responses (like an scripted monologue) but arranged for a meeting with the branch manager on the same day.
While some may argue that this may be because it is a small player compared with the biggest banks in the Philippines, I will not buy such a reasoning because my experience in customer service has taught me that the bigger someone or a company becomes, the higher its responsibility becomes–and that includes expectations from the public. The more that one needs to excel because the stakes are higher!
I will not mention other banks’ names but some of the biggest banks do not even live by their credo or tagline. People take credos and taglines seriously and banks should not forget that the people/clients are the reasons for their existence.
With SBA, its credo /tagline of “Banking to a different beat” is clearly practiced! Sa totoo lang! (I am just saying the truth!) The tagline is not just “for show” or expensive billboards and TV ads.
4. Beyond a long list of services and products – sure, they offer what other banks offer but SBA has exceeded my expectations because their core products are perfect for my needs and one thing that I really value is that they have 24-hour customer service hotline (Mondays-Fridays). Some banks certainly offer this, too, but I know big banks that have 24-hour hotlines only for credit card queries/issue and not for general banking requirements. Moreover, some of the SBA branches are open even on Saturdays and the hotline is available from 8:00 am up to 5:00 pm on weekends.
One thing that I also noticed only recently is that unlike many if not all banks, all the critical departments’ email addresses are listed down in their website! With many people now relying on emails, this is again another mark of how deeply SBA understands the needs of clients.
5. Caring, considerate, and hospitable team – from the security guards to branch managers, they know how busy and tired many people are and so, their branches (at least those that I have already visited) have chairs and my branch even offers free coffee! (Who can beat that?) This may be a small thing only but when one needs to wait or is simply having an extra busy day, a nice seat and a cup of hot coffee is like a salve from heaven!
No other bank has given me these excellent, professional, and caring services. In fact, this is the first time that I am writing a blog post for a bank!
Of course, SBA is not perfect and I won’t be so careless as to say that my experiences will be the same for everyone. However, what I can say with confidence is that Sterling Bank of Asia strives very hard to live up to its business credo and based on my experiences, it is not like any other bank that I have ever dealt with.
The heart-shaped logo of Sterling Bank of Asia is indeed a mark of its genuine warmth and keen customer focus.
Image credits: Sterling Bank of Asia
*The Central Bank’s financial inclusion survey in 2015 revealed that 86% of Filipino households do not maintain a deposit account. While a little more than 4 out of 10 Filipinos do save, nearly 7 out of 10 keep their savings hidden away at home or in unsecured places. Two out of 10 Filipinos have never even saved a centavo in their life (BSP, 2015).
This is not a paid/sponsored post. I am not asking for donation to maintain this site but I hope you can consider planting trees on your birthdays! Namaste!
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