The BPI Wait

automated teller machine

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I prefer to do most of my banking transactions online. If I can, I avoid going to the bank branch because I hate waiting, more so doing it standing in line. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to go to the bank for some urgent transactions.

BEA: No More Waiting In Line

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Bank of the Philippine Islands’ BEA (BPI Express Assist) earlier this year. BEA eliminates the standing in line part while waiting for your turn at the teller’s counter. BEA is a touch-screen terminal where you input your transaction details; after which a transaction number is automatically printed. You then sit comfortably in one of the many couches while you wait for your turn at the teller’s counter. The numbers are flashed in a large screen that can be seen by everyone. Both transaction time and waiting time is decreased because transaction details have already been keyed-in by the customer and automatically transmitted to the teller.

Cash Deposit Machine: Cash Deposits Credited In An Instant

Last September 10, I went to the bank’s Tomas Morato – Sct. Delgado branch to do a cash deposit. Being a Monday morning, there were many customers. Even if all teller counters were open at that time, I figured maybe I would have to wait for around 30 minutes.

I glanced around the branch and saw the cash deposit machine. I haven’t tried this machine before but I decided to try it then because of time considerations. Plus, there was a sign there that said cash deposits would be credited in an instant! I wonder why I didn’t notice it before. The machine functions essentially like an ATM but accepts cash deposits (paper bills) only. You insert your ATM card in the designated slot and key in your PIN. The money slot opens and you place your bills inside (no envelopes) where the machine tries to figure out the amount you deposited. It displays the denomination, number of bills per denomination and total amount of deposit. You confirm the numbers shown, then you get a receipt.

500 peso bill

Super fast transaction, if all your bills are accepted. When I made the deposit, however, one bill was rejected. I tried to put it back again twice, straightening the corners of the crisp new bill. A bank staff saw me taking too long at the machine and came over to help. Apparently, new bills will be rejected by the machine, if it has one of those commemorative logos that are not part of the regular design of the paper bill.

Hello, Customer Service?

If in-branch transactions in BPI have improved, unfortunately, its express phone banking service has not. You still have to wait for a long time to be attended to by a customer service representative. For me, five minutes of waiting is long already, and I would just hang up the phone and try again later. But you don’t have a choice but to wait when there’s an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.

That particular day, a weekday morning, I waited for more than 10 minutes before I was able to talk to someone. It was a simple matter of resetting an internet banking password that took about 3 minutes only.

Room for Improvement

Through the years, BPI has pioneered many product and service innovations that benefit its customers. That said, the bank still has some opportunities to improve its customer service. Specifically, I would like to see a big improvement in its phone banking service. I don’t know if it’s a staffing or infrastructure problem or both, but the bank needs to act on customers’ long waiting times. I also don’t like the phone banking practice of announcing a new product, service or promo before saying the menu options. I would appreciate if the bank can put a main menu option of having the call directed to a call center representative immediately, instead of having to press many digits and listening to many menu and submenu options.

Bank of the Philippine Islands has been my bank of choice for many years now. Being one of the largest banks in the country, it carries a wide range of products and services. More importantly for me, it has an extensive network of branches. I have chosen to do most of my banking transactions with BPI mainly because of convenience. I hope that it continues its innovative ways of providing quality customer service to the banking public. As for other banks, I hope they soon follow BPI’s lead in providing transaction convenience to its customer base.

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UPDATE (21 Oct 2012):

Yesterday, I posted a link of this blog post to my twitter account (@mas10ph) and tagged @talktobpi. This morning, I received a reply from BPI. I wasn’t expecting a response on a weekend, so this was a welcome surprise.  This goes to show that Twitter can also be used as an effective customer service platform.

Below is BPI’s response to the concerns I raised:

talk to bpi

Thank you, BPI.