One simply cannot mistake the new face of EON Bank for anything else. It is the local bank with the bright orange signage. This is just one example of an extensive re-branding exercise that started in September last year to shake off common misconceptions about the bank and its services.
Slightly more than one year later, the exercise seems to have met its objectives. Today the bank has received the best commendation of its success, deep from within its loyal customers that have been banking with them over the long haul. These customers have noticed improvements in service quality, banking speed of transactions and efficiency comparable with the best International standards. That is certainly not bad for a bank once known only for its hire purchase financing of Proton cars!
EON Bank has certainly changed – for the better, that is! Gone are the long queues at the transaction counters. Instead, customers are greeted with better service quality from the increased amount of customer service personnel.
In total, the bank has introduced more than 150 process changes across 60 activity groups to eliminate and simplify back office activities by eliminating non-value added processes and duplication of work. Requirements of processing work have also been simplified reducing documentation and process time.
Michael Lor, Group CEO of EON Bank Group, explained this process to us in simpler terms, “In fact from the beginning of last year, we started implementing our Project Quantum Leap Transformation Initiative under our previous CEO, covering a total of 60 business and enabler initiatives that we implemented with an aim to improving our support, our systems, our processes, our operational structure, people, technology, channels and so on. I am glad to say that after the last 12 months or so, we are on track with results such as encouraging growth in the bank, as well as market perception.”
Michael also explained that the bank had managed to shake away its image as a higher purchase (HP) bank for local cars, with a clever re-branding exercise that has put them in the limelight among customers and investors alike.
“In terms of branding, we have actually moved from a non-descript player in the market (as a HP financier) to being one of the most talked about banks in town today. We have enjoyed extensive media attention, very positive analyst recommendations and in the area of consumer banking and consumer banking related expertise and often approached to give our comments and views on this area,” Michael added.
The process change began in early 2008 with the bank embarking on its Branch Improvement Project (BIP) that involved process changes explained earlier. These plus improvements in efficiency of information flow and clarification of scope of duties between branches and HQ-units/center, allowed the transformation process to take shape within each branch that underwent the process.
In addition to this, the bank introduced standard sales management process and tools with proper training held for employees and the improvisation of frontline customer service efficiency. The latter was achieved by reducing waiting time at tellers by over 50% through simpler account opening processes and faster Over-The-Counter (OTC) transactions.
Essentially, BIP engaged everyone from the security guards to the top management on a concerted effort to completely overhaul the branches in order to make banking a delightful experience for customers under four pillar principals, namely people, processes, sales and services.
“What many did not know that before we embarked on the BIP, there was almost 9 months of processes transformation within the branch, where we looked at quality and how customers were served, fine tuned the processes, and moved resource from the backroom to the front line? Only after completing this painful exercise in all 139 branches, did we allow the re-branding exercise to take place. In the process, we have managed to transform our branches, which 14 months ago was primarily transaction centers, to sales and service centers currently,” Michael reiterated.
Michael added that on the people front, the process involved the re-deployment of more than 200 employees from the back room operation into the front line, re-assigned as personal banking officers, which sit in the consultancy areas to explain the banking processes better to customers. This has helped develop the consumer products segment of EON Bank with an expectation of a 9-10% growth this year, despite the slow global and domestic economy.
“I would credit a significant amount of success of this organization to the people that we have. I have been in the banking industry for more than 20 years, and I believe that the ability of EON Bank employees to adapt to change cannot be found elsewhere in the industry, whether in Malaysia or elsewhere. Largely, we were able to achieve a lot because our people were able to assume these changes and make it work,” Michael said confidently.
However having the right people alone cannot guarantee the success of any bank. Having a suitable product range certainly helps. EON Bank launched several products to entice customers to bank with them. One such product was the “Earn Now Fixed Deposit” launched at the beginning of 2009. With this account, customers enjoyed the benefit of advanced crediting of their interest rates upon placing their money on the terms of the fixed deposit account.
This helped customers to save their deposits and enjoy the interest earned immediately, without waiting for the term of the fixed deposit to mature.
Another account that received much prominence was its “Save Monthly Account” savings account launched this year that guaranteed interest rates regularly as long as money is deposited on a monthly basis.
By launching these products and other interesting secured and unsecured loan based products, EON Bank managed to attract new customers to its branches. With its tremendous effort to change and re-brand itself to make it relevant in the industry, EON Bank has managed to position itself well to ensure its future remains buoyant.
On how its success today can be gauged against the best International banking standards and practices, Michael remained with two feet on the ground realizing that being big and glamorous might not be the best solution for a successfully re-engineered bank such as EON Bank.
“We would like to think of ourselves as a Perodua – MyVi, a car built with the best International expertise and quality control from Japan, produced locally. Therefore, the standards and expectations of this particular car are there and it is within reach of an average person because it is using a local brand. Therefore similarly, we want EON Bank to have a world-class status that locally, people can compare against a foreign bank at a level that is affordable and convenient enough for all Malaysians.”