Posted on December 10, 2015

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank has been named ‘Best Bank in the GCC’ for the second year running in the 2015 Retail Banking Customer Experience Benchmark Index developed by Ethos Integrated Solutions, the regional leader in delivering excellence in customer experience. QNB was named ‘Best Bank’ in Qatar.

The Index – the 11th in the annual series – recognised the efforts of 12 GCC banks out of a total of 65 studied over six months measuring branch experiences, website interactions and call centre responses with 40 contacts made with each bank across all three delivery channels. Of the 65 GCC banks studied, the bulk - 22 - were in the UAE. Ten were in Saudi Arabia, there were nine each in Bahrain and Qatar, eight in Kuwait and seven in Oman. They were evaluated on reliability, assurance, responsiveness and empathy, in line with Ethos’ ‘Value Moments’ customer experience criteria.

“In essence the Index reveals that banks in the GCC are getting better although the trend is not exactly uniform across the region,” explained Robert Keay (pictured), Ethos’ founder and Chief Executive Officer. The report reveals that the UAE saw a slight (-1%) dip in overall banking experience in 2015 but reports that over the last 10 years UAE bank customers have reported an 18% percentage point rise in improved experiences. “The banking experience index for the UAE now stands at 79.4% and is considered to be the leader within the region,” explained Keay. “This is closely followed by Kuwait and Qatar.”

QNB named Qatar’s Best 2 [].jpg

The report also identifies a continuous shift towards usage of alternative delivery channels. “We have reflected this in our research methodology,” said Keay. “Today the overall online experience constitutes 15% of the overall banking experience index as compared to our initial weighting of 5%. “In 2015, customers regarded their branch experience as the highest out of the three engagement channels of the study, and the data suggests that banks should focus and prioritize enhancing their online channels and capabilities.”

Keay says the decade-long trend towards improved performance is a result of greater market competitiveness and higher customer expectations. “These are driving a strong focus on delivering customer experiences comparable with other more well established markets.” During the Index study – the biggest to date - Ethos researchers made 1,300 branch visits, 780 call centre calls and had 520 website interactions asking in total 68,000 questions and completing 2,600 research interactions.

Other Index UAE winners were: ‘Best Branch Experience’ - Mashreq Bank; ‘Best Call Centre Experience - Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; ‘Best Online Experience - Dubai Islamic Bank; ‘Most Improved Bank - Ajman Bank; ‘Most Improved Branch Experience - Commercial Bank International; ‘Most Improved Call Centre Experience - Standard Chartered Bank; ‘Most Improved Online Experience’ - Sharjah Islamic Bank. In regional results, the National Bank of Kuwait was named the country’s ‘Overall Best Bank’ while in Oman the ‘Best Bank’ honour went to Bank Sohar, in Bahrain it went to HSBC Bahrain and to Al Rajhi Bank for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The full Retail Banking Benchmarking Study with specific reports on each bank and individual countries can be purchased from