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“RAISE YOUR GAME” Spotlights CX Challenges in Cambodian Banking Sector

On 2nd November, ORLIG Sdn Bhd spearheaded an event at the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh titled “RAISE YOUR GAME” in collaboration with CTAPPS MSC Sdn Bhd, and eCam Solution Co., Ltd.

Attendees of the event were representatives from prominent banking institutions in Cambodia, such as Sathapana Bank, Canadia Bank, and APD Bank among others.

The dialogue aimed at sparking discussions about balancing customer convenience, regulatory compliance, and a greater need for user security within the Cambodian financial sector.

panellist lineup
panellist lineup

Panellist speakers include:

  • Albert Khoo, Business Consultant for Customer Operations
  • Chan Fook Yee, Director, EUNOIA CX Sdn Bhd
  • Bun Sarady, Deputy Chief Retail Banking Officer, Sathapana Bank
  • Yvonne Ng, Customer Experience Visionary Officer, ORLIG

Troubled Waters: Current State of Customer Experience (CX) in Cambodia

Panel discussions during the event touched upon the current state of customer experience within the Cambodian banking sector. A poll session held during the conference provided valuable insights into the challenges facing the industry.

  • 13% of banking institutions do not have a departmental unit dedicated to customer service issues.
  • More than half (52%) of banking institutions have a dedicated customer service department of fewer than 20 staff members. 8% do not even have a dedicated unit.
  • 47.8% of institutions require multiple follow-ups to resolve customer issues. 4.3% have no resolution whatsoever.
  • In terms of challenges to customer experience, the two largest are lack of proper procedures (39.1%) and lack of technology systems & support (30.4%), followed by lack of knowledge (17.4%) and expertise, and lack of talent resource (13%).
  • 56% of banks cover all user channels, which include telephone, Telegram/WhatsApp, email, website, and social media.

Daunting Challenges: Insights from the Panel

Lack of Preparedness

Albert Khoo, Business Consultant for Customer Operations, highlighted that, from the data provided by the participants, 39.1% of banks lack proper procedures, while 17.4% need more knowledge and expertise in managing customer experience.

“Combining both indicates that for many financial institutions, perhaps CX management as a discipline lacks formal structure and support. It’s almost an afterthought of customer service,” he says.

“Despite this, banks also provide almost every possible channel to interact with customers. This results in challenges in consistency. With consumers’ expectations towards CX at an all-time high, but banks struggling to upkeep these different channels, many banking experiences will fall below expectations.”

Urban-Rural Divide

Bun Sarady, Deputy Chief Retail Banking Officer at Sathapana Bank, echoed similar concerns. He pointed out an inconsistency between urban and rural areas regarding digital adoption and acceptance.

“For digital services and mobile banking, it is only being adopted by those in the cities, such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Siam,” says Sarady.

“It is an issue with both technology and culture. For small provinces, even when consumers have smartphones, they have no desire to register for mobile banking services despite various initiatives, such as offering free ATM cards. This consumer group still prefers transactions over-the-counter, rather than QR code scans or ATMs.”

Turbulence Ahead

Financial institutions in Phnom Penh recognise the importance but are lacking in customer experience (CX) amid a competitive sector. With over 60 banks servicing a population of just 17 million, the sector is rife with competition.

A report by ‘The Financial Brand’ revealed that 61% of consumers would readily abandon brand loyalty after merely a single negative experience. This number is expected to be higher in a competitive banking landscape in Cambodia, leaving institutions with no room for slip-ups.

Against this backdrop, the local landscape is expected to change drastically in the coming years. CX will play a key role in determining a bank’s position in the market — and there is plenty of room for improvement.

Yvonne Ng, Customer Experience Visionary Officer at ORLIG, noted that high levels of effort are required from the customers’ end to perform basic transactions.

“It’s as though there’s no relationship with the service provider. It’s always you, the customer, that you are alone in your struggles to find ways to resolve your challenges. The organisation is rarely there to support.”, she says.

This observation is reflected in the polling results, where close to half of ticket enquiries require customers to follow-up repeatedly to have the matter resolved.

An Optimistic Future Despite Challenges

Despite the alarming conditions, the panellists are optimistic about Cambodia’s banking sector’s prospects.

Chan Fook Yee, Director of Global Business Intelligence, voiced that Cambodia is at a unique crossroads. With the core technologies needed to deliver excellent customer experience already mature, Cambodia has access to resources and easy technology adoption, including AI chatbots.

“For countries like Malaysia, or even Singapore, access to better technologies has plateaued, and the headroom for customer experience improvement is limited,” says Chan. “Cambodian banks are at the right moment for technological adoption because the core technologies needed to deliver customer experience are already mature.””

“Now, we even have AI chatbots in the picture. Technologies are going to become cheaper and much easier to implement moving forward. Cambodian banks now have access to consultants, with many pre-existing case studies who can also assist in the implementation — which are resources that were hard to come by decades ago. Other companies have already put in the time and money to explore the various technologies and processes.”

Yvonne Ng mirrored this optimism, stressing that crucial digital security features are now accessible to Cambodian banks — a major factor in customer experience. This plays a huge role in reducing fraud rates within the country. She gave examples of mature technologies, such as two-factor authentication and device binding.

“Yes, technologies should always adapt to the business needs, and businesses shouldn’t overhaul their processes just to fit the technology,” she says.

“However, do not always think that technology is a barrier to delivering better customer experience. These security functions are already widely implemented. It is already there. So now, it is a matter of how we execute it.”

Low-Hanging Fruits to Better Improve CX & Security

After discussions with panellists, Albert Khoo highlights four key security trends that Cambodian banks can consider adopting to significantly improve consumer confidence in banking facilities, which in turn improves customer experience:

1. Transition from SMS Two-Factor Authentication to Push Notifications

One-time passwords (OTPs) are increasingly vulnerable to cyber and social engineering attacks. Countries like Singapore have already replaced this system, and Malaysia is following suit.

2. Implementation of Kill Switches

In the case of suspected fraud, customers can make a phone call to instantly lock their accounts. This immediate response mechanism enhances account security.

3. Money Lock Facility

This feature provides consumers with the option of having non-digital accounts. For these specific accounts, transactions can only be performed at bank branches, prohibiting the digital movement of funds.

4. Malware Scans

With the rise of unauthorised application installations, some banking apps now include malware scans. These apps scan through the phone and freeze when a security vulnerability is identified, thereby enhancing device and data security.

“Customer experience is not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have,” says Khoo.

“Change is accelerating. In countries like China, they’ve culturally switched to an almost cashless society in 10 years. In the next few years in Cambodia, the discussions we have about customer experience will change drastically as well.””

“The final advice is that banks need to build awareness and expertise in customer experience management. Thankfully, technology is an enabler — and it’s about who we talk to, getting the right partners for implementation, and getting the right advice, which can help banks resolve this crisis.”

Click here to download the full polling result