Great article from Bloomberg Business Week about their #1 Customer Service Champion Provider: USAA. Here are a few selected pieces from the story:
Since we first produced the list in 2007 with our research partner, J.D. Power & Associates, no other company has come close to achieving USAA's feat: a No. 1 or No. 2 spot for four years running. No fewer than 87% of respondents to J.D. Power's syndicated surveys say they will definitely buy from the company again, far higher than the average, which is just 36%. Its client retention rate? A near-perfect 97.8%
When Staff Sergeant Corey Mason wants to deposit a check, he doesn't use an ATM, a teller at a branch, or even a stamped envelope and deposit slip. Rather, the 37-year-old GPS systems specialist takes a picture of the check with his iPhone, uses an app to send it to his bank, and within minutes the money shows up in his account. Although he's now stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., it's the kind of service Mason knows his fellow troops in Iraq, where he served in 2004, surely appreciate. "The mail over there is extremely slow," he says. "They know what it's like."
Because USAA has just one physical bank branch, at its headquarters in San Antonio, deposit-by-iPhone is a logical step. (It also launched an app for Android users on Jan. 22.) Since August, more than $260 million in deposits have been made using the mobile service, as USAA's customers, whether in Camp Pendleton, Calif., or Iraq, send in checks. Giants like Bank of America are just testing a similar service.
Lieutenant Randall Blakeslee, a plans and operations officer stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., is on two-hour standby to depart for Haiti, where he'll stay at least 90 days to help with relief efforts. That means his mail will be forwarded to him there, and he fully expects to use the mobile deposit service to submit checks from his job at home or when family sends him money. He already used the service to deposit checks when he was based in El Salvador. USAA is "really ahead of the game when it comes to technology," says Blakeslee, 34. "If I'm on the run, I can text a command and within seconds get a message back with my balance."
Blakeslee is referring to another high-tech service USAA rolled out in 2008 that lets its far-flung customers—a sizable number of whom are young, tech-savvy, and living paycheck to paycheck—get text messages about their account balances before, say, making a big purchase. Later in 2010, USAA is planning mobile peer-to-peer payments, which let customers e-mail or text-message money to friends or family for immediate deposit, no matter where they are at the time.
USAA was among the first to let customers initiate an insurance claim using their phones from the scene of an accident. And it soon will expand that app so policyholders can attach photos to the claim and complete the entire process via phone. By 2011 customers will even be able to attach voice recordings to their file, immediately retelling exactly what happened.
Also coming this year: a mobile car-buying service that lets customers standing at a dealership snap an iPhone pic of a vehicle's VIN number and instantly get back insurance quotes, loan terms, and pre-negotiated rates at approved dealerships. "The idea is you can turn that phone around to the salesman," says Bob Otis, USAA's vice-president for auto product management, "and say 'this is the price I'm going to pay.' "
If you want to know more about the USAA iPhone app, Net Banker has written up a great overview.