The bank announced in a notice that it would be closed on October 29 and re-open its doors to depositors on the 31st of the same month in order to facilitate an upgrade of its core banking system.
The timing was devastating since it was month-end.
As a result a number of clients failed to access their money within the bank two days after the announced re-opening date, amid fears that a confidence crisis could emerge if the bank failed to rectify the situation soon.
Scenes similar to those prevailing in 2008 before the inception of the multi-currency regime played out as long queues formed in banking halls while some customers lost patience with delays in being served.
“I have lost out on key business opportunities over the past two days because I can’t access my money; this is really frustrating,” said a distraught woman at a Harare branch.
Another customer complained that he kept being told to check with the bank after 12:30pm as bank officials told him that the Information Technology (IT) system was down.
“I’m beginning to suspect that there is more to it than meets the eye, what’s the use of the upgrade if I can’t get my money on demand?” said the man who declined to be named.
CBZ Corporate Affairs and Training Executive Laura Gwatiringa explained that the bank acknowledges that the timing of the project might have inconvenienced some of its clients and the fact that the challenges would be short-term due to the timing.
“We would like to thank our valued customers for their understanding during the system upgrade which required that the process coincides with a periodic-end, which could be a quarter-end, half year-end, or even a year-end,” said Gwatiringa.
“In this case, we weighed a number of options and found that a month-end was better as it allowed us to start a new month on the new system,” she said.
“The system will help in reducing operational risks, lowering costs, and enhancing customer service, provision of a uniform customer experience, and creation of centres of excellence,” said Gwatiringa.
She pointed out that the new system’s customer-centric design would enable the bank to strengthen customer relationships by providing a holistic view of customer interactions.
Said Gwatiringa, “It acts as a single repository source for all customer information, origination functions, reporting needs, administrative functions, and accounting.
“The Relationship Pricing Module enables us to differentiate customers based on value and offer pricing benefits to the more valuable customers. It also enables us to offer several products for sale as one combined product, referred to as product bundling,” she said.