Services, just like products are a necessary part of peoples’ lives and therefore there is need for players in the services sector to ensure they deliver quality services to consumers in an effective and efficient manner. A good example of a service sector industry is the financial services sector which offers financial services to its customers under various money management organizations such as banks, insurance organizations, stock brokerage firms, credit card service providers and investment institutions. In this paper, I will concentrate on the banking sector with specific reference to commercial banks. I choose to show how Citibank in the United States uses information technology in delivering services to its clients.
How Citibank uses Information Technology in Providing Services to its Clients
Information technology involves the use of computers and related software in the conversion, processing, transmission, storage and protection of information. It also involves the study, development and creation of new technologies that enable people to work more efficiently in their different fields. Information technology is shaped by the growth in the following arenas; cable data transfer systems, communication via satellite, means of storing the information, video technology, development of different types of computers and digital telephone and broadcasting systems among others.
The fact that information technology is now cheaper and readily available saves businesses a lot of costs and ensures their service delivery is more efficient. Efficiency saves businesses time and money and also works for the benefit of customers and other service consumers. Advancement in information technology (IT) has also given businesses the opportunity to link with other stakeholders using e-commerce technology. IT also facilitates daily operations within organizations making them more efficient in their internal and external operations via tools such as the intranet and information storage devices which can accommodate a larger volume of information (Mehdi, 2001, pp. 105).
Citibank offers different types of services to its customers which are mostly centered on safeguarding the client’s money. These services include but are not limited to taking deposits from customers and permitting withdrawals at the discretion of customers, providing loans, issuing their clients with debit and credit cards and processing transactions carried out using these cards, payment of bills services, allowing for inter and intra bank transactions among others.
Information technology has played a major role in enabling Citibank to provide these services in an efficient and effective manner to their large client base which includes both individual and corporate clients. With the use of information technology, Citibank is able to offer its clients 24 hour banking and customer services. Some of the services facilitated by the use of information technology in the bank include the following:
Mobile and Internet Banking: In order to carry out the services mentioned above, Citibank allows the use of mobile and internet banking for its clients (Citibank, 2010, para. 1). This allows clients to access their account information and carry out allowed transactions without necessarily having to go to the bank’s branches in person. Internet and mobile banking allows the bank’s customers pay their bills online or via their cell phones and also transfer funds from their accounts meaning they are able to save money and time which would have otherwise been spent going to either of the bank’s branches personally.
This kind of banking takes place at any time during the day meaning that the banks clients do not have to wait to carry out their transactions during the normal bank operating hours. Customers are also able to access their bank statements online and this enables them to keep track of their financial information and daily transactions, any time, anywhere.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and Wire Transfer Services: ATMs in the banking industry qualify as Information technology equipment meant to enable better service provision to bank clients (Guile & Qinn, 1988, pp. 136). The bank has a large number of ATM networks country’ wide and also internationally. This means that the its clients, whether within or outside the country, have full time access of their money as well as the kind of account information that can be accessed through these ATMs.
The bank has also teamed up with other ATM operators to offer ATM services to their clients meaning that its clients can also access their money and account information from these other ATM operators. With information technology enabling wire transfers, the banks clients can be able to transfer money within and outside the country without having to go to a financial center. This service also allows clients to transfer funds to other banks and is not limited just to transfers within Citibank (Citibank, 2010, para. 1-2).
Inter Institution Fund Transfers and Credit Card Services: The bank’s clients can transfer their money from their Citibank accounts to their accounts in different banks, brokerage firms as well as credit unions for free. The bank offers this service online. The bank also offers its customers credit card services which allow their clients to use the cards to pay for their day to day transactions without necessitating cash payments.
Information technology enables the bank to keep track of all these transactions in real time meaning that nothing goes by them and they can therefore be able to update their own accounts as well as their clients’ accounts and be able to reveal such information to clients whenever requested to do so. The use of the latest information technology tools allows for the availability of information and communication of such information both within and outside the institution, seeing as it has a wide branch network inside and outside the United States.
Most people had for a long time been skeptical about the use of the internet, ATM, and mobile banking services for fear of the security of their money and privacy of their account information, but Citibank has come up with ways of ensuring all of their clients’ information is dealt with in a confidential manner and is also protected from the ever rising cases of internet and mobile banking fraud. This means that the bank’s customers can carry out their transactions using this platforms without fear.
According to Morton and Allen, information technology cannot be depleted like other products and has a value that is not dependent on physical attributes, meaning that as a resource its use cannot be constrained (1994, pp. 6). This coupled with the fact that the information technology sector is ever changing for the better through the development of new and more efficient ways of doing things, can only mean that Citibank will continue to come up with better ways of serving their customers.
Information technology has facilitated convenience for the bank’s customers and this has gone a long way in providing effective and efficient customer services leading to customer satisfaction thereby giving the bank a competitive edge over their rivals in the financial services industry (Rapp, 2002, pp. 223-224). Abu-Taieh, El-Sheikh & Abu-Tayeh (2009, pp.224-225), point out that information technology is readily available and cheap, efficient, convenient, easily accessible and available and all these factors play into the improvement of profitability in the banking sector. Citibank has been able to achieve all this through the adoption of information technology in carrying out its daily operations.
Abu-Taieh, E. M. El-Sheikh, A. A. & Abu-Tayeh, J. (2009). Utilizing Information Technology across Disciplines: Advancements in the Application of Computer Science. Pennsylvania: Information Science Reference, with IGI Global.
Citibank. (2010). Banking; Convenience; Credit Cards. Web.
Guile, R. B. & Quinn, B. J. (1988). Technology in Services: Policies for Growth, Trade and employment. Washington: National Academy of Sciences.
Mehdi, K. (2001). Pitfalls and Triumphs of Information Technology Management. New York: Idea Group Publishing.
Morton, S. M. and Allen, J. T. (1994). Information Technology and the Corporation of the 1990s: Research Studies. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rapp, V. W. (2002). Information Technology Strategies: How Leading Firms use IT to Gain an Advantage. New York: Oxford University Press.