Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - September 25, 2013

Enjoyable Banking: Bricks and Mortar

Enjoyable? Sure, your customers may be "satisfied" with your service. But could their experiences with your institution actually be enjoyable?

That's the question asked in a recent Financial Brand post (more about the article below). Their discussion included some interesting examples of ways banks and CUs enhance the customer experience, whether that means sending welcome notes, providing meeting summaries to customers, or notifying customers of overdrafts and giving them a day to fix it (instead of staying silent and watching fees grow).

Some banks periodically get all inspired around customer service and roll out new "initiatives," programs like those mentioned, to "captivate" their customers. These highly visible actions, coupled with the actual face-to-face experiences customers have in their longer conversations with bank staff (e.g., requesting credit), are like bricks. They are the big, obvious chunks that make up most of the wall.

But before flashy initiatives, look at what holds the customer experience together. In between those bricks, those blocks of time where you bestow a lot of personal attention on your customer, you need plenty of mortar. Without that glue to hold together your "initiatives" and your personal interactions, customer service falls apart and the overall customer experience grows more and more frustrating.

How much phone tag do your customers have to play to talk to the right person, or to get a simple question answered? When they e-mail the bank with an issue -- and especially when they ask more than one question -- do they get canned answers that require a lot of follow up from them, or do they get thoughtful responses?

Can they quickly and easily do what they want on your web site? Or is that mostly advertising and promotion, really, with the services the customer values most buried deep in the site, or even missing entirely?

Do they wait for documents, only to be rushed to return their responses? Is your bank quick to make contact when you want information, and slow to make contact when the customer wants information?

Is the reception visitors and callers receive uniformly welcoming? Or is that kind of welcome reserved for the favored few?

The mortar, not the bricks, shows your true customer service culture. Anyone can be attentive, helpful, and charming when they know they are on the stage, as it were.

Do a little tuck pointing, making sure the mortar in your customer service foundation -- all the little contacts -- is in the best possible shape. Only then should you look at ways to add a few new bricks, new ways of interacting with your customers that will distinguish you in your marketplace, building loyalty and earning those all-important referrals for your bank.