5 Resolutions to Raise Customer Satisfaction

With the holidays behind us and 2012 well underway, I was wondering whether it’s too late for us to add a couple of resolutions to the list that has probably already been broken (Gym visits? Dieting? Smoking? …) In a cross-industry comparison of 2011 satisfaction scores below, I highlighted the research studies which pertain to banking and credit cards. While all 3 studies showed improvement in satisfaction last year, it is painfully obvious that a lot more can and should be done to address the needs and expectations of our customers. Therefore, I propose a list of five changes which, if adopted as part of the New Year, would likely raise customer satisfaction in financial services again this year and help narrow the gap with other service industries that typically outperform banking each year.

Resolutions for financial services:

Greet customers with sincerity and compassion:  Regardless of whether it’s in person or over the phone, customers can sense a disingenuous welcome or hello. We each have the ability to make someone else’s day a little better or to relieve some stress by smiling and saying ‘hello’. Acknowledging a customer upon arrival is the single most impactful behavior to in-person satisfaction in our Retail and Small Business Banking studies, affecting the customer’s subsequent perception of satisfaction in other areas such as wait time and account initiation. Likewise, courtesy for phone agents starts with the greeting and affects overall satisfaction of the call session.

Call customers back before they call you:  When working on a customer question, problem or other issue, we often wait to call a customer back until there is resolution. Unfortunately, in the meantime, customers often grow impatient at the lack of information while waiting and call the bank…sometimes several times. When the bank finally calls the customer with resolution, customers often feel the call was the result of their persistence and not what the bank planned all along. If a problem or question cannot be resolved at the initial point of contact (best practice) or within 24-hours, the customer needs a call informing them of the current status and anticipated timeline for resolution, along with proactive call at regular intervals until the problem is closed out. But this also leads to another resolution… Continue reading ›

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Role of Social Media in Growing Bank Revenues

Guest Blog Post by:  EMI Strategic Marketing

At last month’s Financial Services Marketing Symposium, a question posted by Tim Spence of Oliver Wyman to kick off the conference reflected an issue on attendees’ minds: where does the financial services industry find revenue growth? This is top of mind in the industry, as the lower loan-loss provisions, which boosted bank profitability in 2011, are expected to tail off in 2012, so financial institutions are now looking to the revenue side of the ledger to maintain and grow profits.

According to the top 25 banks’ recent forecasts, all 25 plan to increase revenue by growing their market share – which means that some of these institutions will fail do to so.

In an environment characterized by increased competitive intensity, technological advances and renewed focus on customer relationship optimization, banks are investing in a range of new service and sales channels, with social media prominent among these emerging channels. A survey of the FSM conference audience revealed that 67% of attendees’ banks have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A recent report by FIS Global shows that many top banks have a social media presence on these three main social media platforms:

What was notable about the social media discourse at the conference is that none of the speakers explained how participation in social media channels improves revenue for their organization:

» Paul Kadin of Citibank focused on the fact that Citibank’s social media presence has helped to improve its Net Promoter Scores

» Julie Berkun Fajgenbaum of American Express OPEN discussed the organization’s social media goal: active participation by message recipients

» Tim Collins of Wells Fargo emphasized that social media is not the right channel for pushing products; rather, it is a forum for authentic, relevant messages to customers

Continue reading ›

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Why Complacency is NOT Customer Service

This past weekend, I visited an actual bank branch for the first time in over 6 months. As part of the MTV generation (the late half of course), I witnessed the introduction of the home computer, the growth of the video game era, the boom of cable television and the construction of the information superhighway we refer to as the internet. Growing up on digital technology, it’s probably not a shocker that I prefer to do much if not all of my banking via online channels whenever possible or available.

So, it was a Saturday morning, and I needed to cash a check written on a large regional bank where I am currently not a customer. Finding a branch location was a synch, as this bank has a huge national footprint with a well-recognized and distinguished brand image. Convenience was definitely key for me, so I went with easy, and chose to visit the small branch close to my home. After all, I had passed it a thousand times on my way to somewhere else, but never had a reason to pop in.

As I entered the branch, nobody acknowledged my presence, but finding the teller line was easy……4 steps and I was already inside the roped off area waiting for a teller to motion to me that it was my turn to be assisted. In less than a minute, I got the combo hand signal and slight arm waive to “come on down”, and was greeting with a hearty “hello” by the teller. I told her I wanted to cash a check, and she promptly asked me for identification. As she processed my transaction, counted and double counted the cash she was about to hand me, I took a few moments to glance around the rest of the office to just soak up the atmosphere. I can’t help it. I’ve done thousands of retail bank and branch assessments over the years, so you could say that I’m almost conditioned to automatically make note of wait times, observe service behaviors of branch staff and read non-verbal cues of branch customers. In fact, according to the 2010 J.D. Power Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, the in-person customer experience is the largest contributing factor to Account Activity satisfaction in the entire Study!

Here’s what I observed:

  1. One customer was waiting to be helped on the platform while a CSR was training another CSR on the computer system. Did I mention that it was a Saturday? Did I mention that there was only one CSR on duty?
  2. There were no customers in line at the teller counter, yet there were 3 other tellers on duty chatting amongst themselves. Did I mention that they were chatting behind the teller counter right in front of the customer waiting to be helped on the platform?

The teller finished processing my transaction, handed back my ID with the cash and a receipt and said “thank you”.

Here’s what I wondered:

  1. Why didn’t the teller thank me by name or use my name at all during the transaction? After all, she had my ID, so she knew my name by now.
  2. Why didn’t the teller ask me if there was anything more she could assist me with? I was thinking the obvious, like why was I not already a bank customer or inquire if I would like to be. Why didn’t they want me as a customer? Did they already have too many?
  3. Why wasn’t I greeted by anyone when I entered the branch?
  4. Why was platform training being facilitated on a Saturday with no other platform staff present?
  5. Why was a customer waiting to be helped when almost all employees in the branch were visibly available?

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking……I’ve been conducting comprehensive branch assessments for over 15 years, so how could I possibly be unbiased in my branch observations? I’m trained to notice the subtleties of customer service and can help banks build and implement customer satisfaction programs in my sleep, so maybe my observations were exaggerated or just too critical? Well in this case, I was just an average bank customer processing a simple transaction on a Saturday morning. Continue reading ›

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Charging Bank Fees: Three Tips for Customer Satisfaction Success

While the above video pokes fun of the current debit card fee debate, and humorously defines the potential for future fee types, we wanted to provide our readers with some sound customer satisfaction data and best practices around fees from our 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. The data highlights we provide below spotlight what makes customers happy or unhappy with regard to charging fees, and we thought it would also be useful to provide some tips and pointers for those banks considering a change to their current fee structures.

Tip #1: Avoid Frequent Changes in Fee Structures

82% of average bank customers were satisfied with their banks’ fees when there were no changes made to fee structures in the past 12 months as compared to only 18% of average bank customers being satisfied when there were 1 or more changes made to bank fees in the past 12 months.

  • Customers are happier when fees don’t change often
  • Infrequent fee changes limit the occurrence of fee-related problems for which employees will need to spend time resolving
  • Avoid changing fees more than once a year if possible

Tip #2: Be Proactive About Communicating Fee Changes to Customers

Only 16% of average bank customers were satisfied with fees changes when they were not notified of changes in advance, compared to 84% of average bank customers that were satisfied with fee changes when they were notified of changes in advance.

  • Notify customers about fees far in advance, preferably, at least 3 months
  • Provide a clear and concise explanation of the new fees, and don’t burry the explanation in a 50 page, bank jargon filled account disclosure
  • Be clear about the value they’ll realize for the additional fees being charged. Higher fees without enhanced value for the customer will have a greater negative impact on overall customer satisfaction

Tip #3: Perform a Needs Assessment at the Time of Account Opening

The impact of a proper needs assessment at account initiation to ensure a customer is placed in the right account at the time of account opening is often overlooked. Of the 57% of average bank customers who received a complete needs assessment at the time of account opening, 42% of them understood the fee types and account types up front, and only 7% of them reported having a fee related problem.

  • Make sure the needs of the customer match the account type they receive up front. It will save employees time having to solve fee related issues because of account type misunderstandings
  • Even a partial needs assessment at the time of account opening is better than not doing one at all….and will minimize the chances of having to change the account type to the proper one later down the road
  • Spending 5-10 mins properly assessing the needs of the customer up front will likely result in happier customers, even should their fees change again next year
The video used in this blog post was not created by J.D. Power and Associates, the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. nor does it represent the thoughts and opinions of J.D. Power and Associates, the McGraw-Hills Companies, Inc.   This video is used for entertainment purposes only.
All data in this blog post:  © 2011 J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Average bank customers, referred to in this blog post represent the industry average sample of the following:   Large Banks=475 branches or more and at least $50 billion in deposits; Medium Banks=125 – 474 branches and more than $10 billion in deposits; Small Banks=less than $10 billion in deposits.


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We’re Happy You’re Here!

Welcome to our blog for banking professionals!  These are exciting times for financial services and clearly the “Voice of the Banking Customer” matters now more than ever.  Through this blog, we look forward to sharing more than just research findings and insights……our goal is to show you HOW to apply this information and research to implement plans to deliver a better overall customer experience.  Just as valuable, however, are the actual experiences, challenges and success stories each of you can share with us and your peers.  Raising the collective bar on improving customer satisfaction is the objective of this new blog and we look forward to all of your contributions, comments and feedback that will help us to help you!

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