Internal lean diffusion on streamlined-service operations : ABSA bank.
Lean manufacturing is a business philosophy that continuously improved all process involved in service process irrespective of what types of product or service being provided. It provides highest level of customer service through systematic and continuing searching non-value-added activities and wastes and eliminating them. The current branch-based distribution models are no longer sustainable in most banks, and are unable to meet rapidly evolving customer needs and provide easy access to simplified banking services. This paper focuses on examining the impact of the streamlining of internal lean practices on service operations processes, specifically at ABSA Bank. The structured questionnaires were distributed to selected 15 Absa branches in Gauteng area for the study. The main purpose of this study is to examine the influence of internal lean-principled service operation processes on banking performance and customer centricity. Convenience sampling technique was used to collect data from employees of ABSA to get their perception of internal processes and the effect of technological self-service system that are aimed to improve customer service. Chi-square test was used to test the hypothesis. Technological banking services are meant to make customers’ lives easier. Surprisingly, the study findings illustrates that self-service systems at Absa branches do not facilitate simplicity in using banking services. The study showed distinctive results for the relationship between self-service systems, i.e. cash accepting ATMs, and speed of service provision, the simplicity of using banking services, and consistency in customer service. While the bank invests a lot of money on technological systems to enable customers to self-service themselves, the study reveals that customers are reluctant to use these systems, therefore stand in queues. On the other hand, the introduction of innovative technological banking services is meant to divert customers to automated services, therefore reduce pressure on bank service desk, but the study reveals that cycle times are relatively longer at ABSA branches due to inconsistency on internal processes; hence customers find themselves queuing for a long time. The findings suggest that to ensure streamlined operations processes, ABSA need to invest time on customer education about technological self-systems. Also, customers must initiate the value chain process, the bank need to adopt pull-approach by availing service catalogue for customers to choose services from. Simplicity, speed, and consistency are key elements on customer satisfaction when using banking services, the findings suggest that the bank need to improve cycle times by ensuring smooth flow of systems when servicing the customers. Further, this study illustrates that internal processes are explained by two elements, process engineering and customer centricity.