Since 2002, SABB has implemented a strategic plan called "Putting Customers First". Under this plan, customers would be the primary focus of the bank instead of giving more priority to products and services. The plan called for a total internal re-organization of the Bank to train employees to be focused and to align the delivery of its services to both corporate and personal customers (SABB 2002: 14).
SABB's confidence that the plan will deliver benefits to its customers, the shareholders, and the Bank as part of its vision to be the leading financial services group in Saudi Arabia is shown by the successful increases in net income from SAR 830 million to 2.5 billion, assets from SAR 41.92 to 65.9 billion, and deposits from SAR 31.5 to 48.5 billion from the end of 2001 to the end of 2005 (SABB 2006: 16-17).
SABB is the leading provider of value added and innovative Islamic financial product and services in Saudi Arabia. This is achieved while following principles of Shari'a whose core investment and market guidelines are to follow the Islamic Shari'a, honesty and integrity, professionalism, strong customer focus, and excellent reputation (SABB, 2006: 9).
The main reason is that SABB is a service organization that relies on customer contact and satisfaction for its business. It will be successful if the customers of the Bank are happy with how the employees perform their work of service. This is why employees have to be first satisfied with their relationship with the Bank, because if they are not, this lack of satisfaction will be reflected in poor service quality to the customers. Poor customer service quality results in poor performance, because customers will not deposit their money in the Bank or buy the financial services that the Bank offers.
The need for quality customer service is the main reason why the Bank put into effect their "Putting Customers First" strategic plan. Research has shown that in service companies like retail banks, the quality of the customer relationship can give the bank an advantage over its competitors by attracting more customers (Keltner 65-68).
The Bank's customer relationship strategy requires that it upgrades its employment relationship to help bank employees to meet the different needs of its customers, not only for personal banking products and services but for the Bank's more profitable private, corporate, and investment banking products and services.
Like other banks all over the world, most of its low value-added transactions like cash deposits and withdrawals, bank balance inquiries, questions about basic products and services are all done through Automatic Teller Machines, Telephone Banking, widely available Point of Sale (POS) terminals in retail outlets all over the Kingdom, and the Internet where it is cheaper to deliver the service. The cost to the Bank is lower because technology is used to serve customers by processing their transactions (Morisi 32). This will allow high value-added services like private, investment, and corporate banking to be transacted face-to-face in the Bank's branch network.
The use of technology allows the Bank to reach more