Luxury Banking in Uganda: Nile's Club Esteem
Barclays Prestige is available at its Garden City branch and Club Esteem may expand its services to Garden City in the near future.

Luxury Banking in Uganda: Nile's Club Esteem

Whether it is called “personalized” banking or “hassle-free” banking, three banks are creatively constructing a trendy and innovative concept of new luxurious banking services in Kampala by offering some unique and fresh benefits to an elite circle of customers to maintain their clientele relationships, and to enhance their customer care services.

The bank trio consists of Barclays, Nile and DFCU banks.

By Aretha Frison
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First published: June 6, 2005

Great Starts with Club Esteem

Nile Bank is another member of the trio that is currently bouncing the ball in this luxury banking court with its “Club Esteem.” The club’s office, adjacent to the bank’s Jinja Road head branch, recently opened its door in mid-February.

What is refreshing and most impressive about Club Esteem is that the first time you stroll through the Esteem doors and introduce yourself to the representatives, it will be the last time for such introductions. When you return on your next visit, the staff will remember and refer to you by your name, and will even know tidbits about you because they would have taken a quick look at your banking profile to better cater to your banking needs.

Gunilla Ouko, Head of Retail Banking for Nile Bank said she and seven other staff members formed a committee to develop Esteem a year ago, which is a concept collectively designed by the managing director and top management.

“So right now, the way our club is different is that there is not no other like it in Uganda,” Ouko said. “We didn’t want preferential banking, but an additional asset to banking—lifestyle banking—showing that we can go out of the way to meet the needs outside the bank. We are just trying to keep in line with excellence. It’s our latest innovation and completely different from any other product on the market—a reason to bank with us.”

“Wow, its like walking into a personal home,” a Nile Bank customer said recently as an Esteem representative opened the office door and greeted the man as he entered. “I’m here to be convinced,” the man said referring to the Club Esteem services. The man glanced around Esteem to see soft, peachy leather seats, spotless glass cocktail tables with wooden accents that are all surrounded by eggshell white walls throughout the Nile Bank clubhouse. “This is really nice,” he said.

Along with the seemed-to-be basic essentials for this new luxury banking concept for the bank trio, like extended banking hours, “bank miles,” access to loans and refreshments, Esteem representatives said the boardroom can also be used by members for last-minute business chats or for well-planned, scheduled meetings, which will also occupy hot and cold refreshments—all at no additional charge to the member.

“This has cost us a lot of money,” Ouko admits. “But the cost of keeping our customers happy is very high than losing our customers.”

Ouko said that Club Esteem members want premiere banking needs and they also want to feel comfortable and valuable. Therefore a lot of thought was put into the architectural, décor and banking services for the new exclusive concept that includes serving Esteem members’ lifestyle and banking needs. Ouko refers to this as Club Esteem’s “double-edged sword” to cut through the competition.

“Consumers are very smart and clever now,” Ouko said. “You can’t give them something fun and cute anymore. Our customer has the money to pay for quality. Our customer has the money and has choices. So, money isn’t the issue anymore. Our customer will pay for the best, and we want to exceed above our customers’ expectations,” she also said. “If all works well, Club Esteem may expand its services to Garden City in the near future,” Ouko said.

However, Andrew Kavuma, a financial consultant in Kampala said besides his excitement about the extravagant furnishings, his main motivator to join Esteem was the personalized banking, which will give him easy access to apply for loans. He said the other benefits are just the icing on the cake.

“DFCU makes it more like a business,” Kavuma said, who is also a DFCU customer. “Club Esteem offers the same service, but in a friendly manner.”

In addition to the member bragging about the smart and designer interior décor to their friends, they will also receive benefits like discounts at health spas, pampering facilities and hotels for a Ushs 40,000 membership fee every month.

And like Club Esteem, DFCU wants to pamper its clients, too. And, General Manager Robert Katuntu of DFCU said being like a business, yet in a comforting atmosphere, is what is going to propel his bank to the top in this latest banking trend.

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By Aretha Frison
more from author >>
First published: June 6, 2005
Aretha Frison is an African American writer based in Kampala.