Leading the Market

By prioritising market leadership through improved customer experience, the Bank was able to mitigate the risks and capitalise on the opportunities of a market that was rocked by the twin shocks of declining oil prices and the global pandemic.

The environmental context

From consumer insights and brand positioning, to e-commerce and crisis communications, the marketing team delivered heightened value to the Bank during the pandemic. For instance, customer empathy was practised across all communications initiated by the Bank in an effort to keep the conversation going. Steps such as providing instalment deferment options and digitising customer journeys were taken to build and increase trust; these too were communicated consistently.

The pandemic changed the face of the 2020 marketing plan, bringing with it unseen challenges, not only for corporate social responsibility initiatives but for the Bank itself. Due to lockdown-related restrictions the customer behaviour changed dramatically and hence, the Bank increased its focus on digital offerings and digital channels. The marketing plan too was recalibrated to focus on:

  • Creating awareness on best practices to stay safe during the pandemic
  • Creating awareness among customers about the digital offerings and their benefits
  • Educating customers on how to use digital channels and subscribe to products digitally
  • Educating customers on safety and identity theft issues

In addition, the Bank ensured that operations were kept intact by implementing and communicating the following measures:

  • Social distancing rules at branches and Tahweel centres
  • Precautionary measures for customers and employees
  • Branch closure depending on the circumstances of the pandemic
  • Revised working hours according to the official curfew hours

Going digital

The pandemic brought with it opportunities such as rapid digital adaptation which the Bank was quick to capitalise on. By taking the customers’ pain points into consideration in order to understand the customers’ context and needs, the Bank was able to fine-tune the customer journey and communicate it in a way that helped to truly connect with and gain the trust of consumers in a digital world.

In line with its ABCDE – Back to Basics strategy, the year under review saw the Bank introduce a number of digital firsts (refer Digital Footprint and Technology Transformation on page 83) which positively impacted the customer experience during an extended period of COVID-19 related restrictions. The newly introduced innovations allowed customers to complete day-to-day banking transactions online, greatly contributing to the Bank’s brand positioning and Institutional Capital (refer Value Drivers: 2020 at a Glance on page 12). These innovations were communicated to stakeholders such as employees in a timely and comprehensive manner to ensure an optimal customer experience.

Combined with other strengths, such as the Bank’s robust position in mortgages which contributes towards the Vision 2030 goal of increasing home ownership for Saudi nationals (refer Retail Banking on page 53), the Bank remains in a market-leading position. Its net promoter score (NPS) has risen steadily from 14 in 2015 to reach 66 in the last quarter of 2020.

Brand positioning

(Refer Intellectual Capital under Value Drivers: 2020 at a Glance on page 14).

Stakeholder-focused marketing content

With a well coordinated marketing communications strategy that served the needs of the Bank’s business lines and support functions, the Bank was able to reach external stakeholders including diverse customers segments, shareholders, media groups, and vendors. This strategy – which consisted of awareness creation, improved positioning, and ultimately sales – was dictated by the Bank’s close contact and regular communication with such groups (refer Stakeholders on page 32).

In line with international best practices and its commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, the Bank’s marketing communications were comprehensive and transparent with due diligence conducted to ensure that no financial products and services were misrepresented to customers.

Financial literacy and digital literacy remained a key component of the Bank’s communications. The Bank remains focused on improving customer trust and loyalty by providing timely advice on safe online banking practices across all customer touchpoints.

Towards co-creation

Internal and external customer feedback is at the heart of many of the Bank’s marketing campaigns. These campaigns are put together following research to understand consumer needs and the habits and attitudes of various customer segments. Success in incorporating internal feedback is possible thanks to the increasing prevalence of integrated thinking within the Bank, which brings together its different teams with a single clear focus of improving the customer experience. In particular, it was the ability to break out of silos and allow the different business lines and functions to work and co-create together that allowed the Bank to provide its customers with a seamless digital journey despite the turbulent market environment (refer Operating Context on page 27).

The Bank’s marketing campaigns incorporate the learning from such customer studies. Insight inspired campaigns of 2020 included:

  1. Travel Plus card launch
  2. Bancassurance launch
  3. Nationality-focused campaigns for Tahweel Al Rajhi
  4. Internal awareness regarding the Bank’s Innovation Centre
  5. Speaker Series for knowledge sharing

Customer experience management is part of the Marketing Department’s mandate. It includes setting up the framework for customer experience measurement, creating awareness around the customer experience, working with various stakeholders in finding the root cause behind a customer’s feedback, co-creating the improvements required and helping with implementation.

Some of the steps taken to optimise the customer experience include the following:

  • Launching monthly Best Performing Branches competition and rewarding the winners with a congratulatory call from the Executive Management team
  • Assessing how the Bank’s physical and digital channels are performing in terms of quality of service and service delivery frequently
  • Assessing the Bank’s position in the banking industry locally
  • Reporting on social media sentiments
  • Aligning with internal business units on the root causes for customer pain points and proposing solutions
  • Monthly Customer Experience Committee meeting with Executive Management to present the Customer Experience metrics
  • Conducting mystery shopper exercises to ensure customer centricity and efficiency of frontline employees
  • Front office empowerment programme
  • Preparing training materials for frontline employees

With the region being at the forefront of social media adaptation and usage, the Bank embarked on the digital marketing journey in 2015 and formulated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to mirror customer media usage. The shift to customer generated content has brought its own set of challenges and resulted in the Bank implementing an internal strategy which has so far delivered favourable results. Today, Al Rajhi Bank has one of the largest groups of followers on social media – not just within the Kingdom but globally.

Corporate social responsibility

In 2020, the Bank gave back to the communities within which it operates by initiating several social responsibility programmes that included the participation of Bank employees (refer ESG Report on page 89).

A corporate social responsibility policy was also implemented with the aim of strengthening the social role of the Bank.

Future outlook

Given the potential longevity of the current turbulent times, effective marketing communications will be more important than ever, helping the Bank to connect with consumers who are now increasingly engaging digitally. In 2021, the Bank plans to improve usage of data across the marketing process to better personalise messages and enhance trust and loyalty.

Providing a leading customer experience remains a priority for the Bank as it continues to support and build on its customer-focused culture while continuing to improve the customer experience at every customer touch point from branches and call centres to digital banking, in line with the Bank’s BOTF Strategy (refer page 41). Each business line will aim to lead the market in their chosen area with a strategy to do so clearly laid out for all employees across the Bank and individual KPIs in line with department goals.