The Evolution of Retail Customer Service Strategy in Banks and Corporates

Retail Service Strategy Evolution in Banks.

We feature the retail service strategies implemented by I&M Bank, and Citi Bank, and shed light on their evolution and impact on the banking landscape.

Having operated in Kenya since the 1980s, Citi Bank wanted to establish its position as a leading bank in the corporate and financial service space within the region. With the construction of its flagship building, the bank aimed to establish a strong presence and embrace international workplace standards. 

This milestone marked a significant evolution in work style, driven by advancements in IT and technology. As a result, traditional hierarchies were flattened, and office spaces were transformed into open-plan and flexible environments.

I&M Bank- Nangina House (1995)

Similarly, I&M Bank underwent a significant transformation in its retail service strategy. Transitioning from its conservative Wood and Gold design, which catered primarily to an exclusive clientele. I&M embraced a more corporate, modern, and efficiently designed approach and transitioned to cater to a wider customer base and meet the evolving expectations of the market.

The transformation extended beyond aesthetics. The bank’s back-office operations underwent streamlining for efficiency and by adopting a more corporate, modern, and customer-friendly brand identity, I&M Bank solidified its position as a powerful financial institution and a trusted partner for individuals and businesses alike.

The Evolution of Customer Service in Bank Branches: 

Commercial Bank of Africa – 1995

The 1990s witnessed a notable transformation in the customer service model within bank branches. During this period, banks across the industry began prioritizing several key aspects to enhance the customer experience:

  1. Consistency in Branding: Banks recognized the importance of presenting a unified brand image across all touchpoints, ensuring a consistent and recognizable identity.
  2. Customer-Centric Approach: Focusing on customer needs and preferences became a central tenet of retail service strategies. Banks strived to provide personalized and tailored experiences to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Efficient Customer Service: Banks embraced technological advancements and automated processes, leading to streamlined operations and reduced reliance on extensive back-office infrastructure. This shift allowed for more efficient customer service delivery.
  4. Expansion into Smaller Towns: Recognizing the potential in untapped markets, banks expanded their presence beyond major cities, venturing into smaller towns. Consistency in branding across retail outlets became crucial for differentiation and brand recognition.

Evolution of Retail Customer Service Strategy in Corporates 

In the early 90s,  Corporates recognized the significance of evolving customer service strategies to enhance customer experiences and establish a strong brand identity. 

This article delves into the evolution of retail customer service strategies in large corporates, with a specific focus on KPLC, and Safaricom.

KPLC – 1995


Transitioning to Customer-Friendly and Efficient Service Delivery During the 1990s, Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) underwent a comprehensive re-evaluation of its service delivery model. The organization recognized the need to shift away from the old and bureaucratic approach and embrace a customer-friendly and efficient retail service concept. 

As a result, KPLC’s retail centers underwent significant transformations to provide an enhanced experience for their customers. These centers were strategically branded and designed to ensure efficient service delivery and create a welcoming environment for customers.

Safaricom – 2000


As a Kenyan brand, Safaricom recognized the importance of creating a retail center that authentically represented the local culture while also humanizing the telecommunications space. 

Safaricom’s approach to retail center design involved incorporating traditional elements of communication such as horns, through organic shapes and natural materials. 

By employing warm and friendly aesthetics, such as the use of wood and warm earthy carpeting, Safaricom established a welcoming and personalized experience for its customers throughout its retail centers.

The design concept drew inspiration from the vibrant colors and textures of Kenya, culminating in a retail center that truly spoke to the essence of the country.

Citibank – 1992

The evolution of retail customer service strategies in large corporates, as exemplified by KPLC, Citi Bank, and Safaricom, highlights the importance of customer-centricity and creating authentic experiences. 

By transitioning from outdated service models to customer-friendly approaches, these corporates successfully enhanced their retail centers to meet the evolving expectations of their customers in the early 90s. 

Through strategic design and branding, efficient service delivery, and the incorporation of local elements, these corporates have established strong brand identities and positioned themselves as leaders in their respective industries. 

As businesses continue to evolve, it remains crucial for corporates to prioritize customer service strategies that foster positive customer experiences and build long-lasting relationships.

Featured Projects:
📌I&M Bank – (1995)
📌Citibank – (1992)
📌Commercial Bank of Africa – (1995)

📌KPLC – (1995)

📌Safaricom – (2000)

Stay tuned as we continue to look at the Evolution of the Retail Customer Service strategy in Banks and Corporates.


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