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Customers need coaching, not channels

Building on yesterday’s blog, I was talking today about how banks deliver new channels to customers today.

It is often not the best, as referenced earlier this week with the cumbersome way mobile apps turning customers off due to the way a bank delivers such service.

If security, sign-on and opening of the new channel access is so cumbersome that it is off-putting, then it will do just that: put customers off.

But the thing that really caught my eye is a tweet from Citi

Citi tweet 

What the tweet means is that customers don't need to be lectured to, but shown.

But showing customers how to use their bank account properly costs money, in terms of staff time, so it isn't given.

And yet, if we know customers need coaching, why aren't they?

It's really to do with all of the issues we have in banking today stemming from the wrong focus.

The focus is on cost reduction instead of customer service, as the latter includes coaching and education.

The issue is that new channels are now deployed by banks with too much focus on cost reduction: taking away staff, increasing customer self-service and avoiding human service; rather than getting the customer comfortable and confident with the new channel.

Without coaching, customers cannot self-serve.

Take mobile and internet banking.

Hot, hot, hot and the same thing, as it is all mobile internet today.

Mobile internet allows banks to put customers firmly in control 24*7.

The issue is that the bank is putting the customer in control when the customer is out of control.

I’ve talked often about the vagaries of customers giving away private account information through social media or mobile malware: Banks should advise customers on the do’s and don’ts of social networking

And yet, banks not only have zero policy for educating customers in such matters but many are not even engaging the customer in a dialogue at all.

Instead, the bank throws apps over the wall and trust their customers will find them and use them.

Chuck channels out to the market and pray customers will notice.

Force customers into self-service and hope they will self-serve.

The issue is that many customers have little idea how to serve themselves.

It’s a real oversight as, when you think about it, does the average customer know the best practices for surfing finance safely on the mobile internet?


Are banks running education programmes in branches to coach them in how to do this?


Is this a problem?


After all, the bank has taken the trouble to develop these apps and capabilities so if the customers aren’t using them, what was the point?

The justification was to develop such services for cost reduction: get the customer to do more themselves.

But if the customers aren’t doing more for themselves, then the investment is wasted.

It reminds me of the days when ATMs were being rolled out big time in the mid-1990s, and one of the leading innovation banks at the time was the Royal Bank of Canada.

This bank performed a major rollout of ABMs (they call them Automated Banking Machines) and decided to put staff in the branches to show customers how to use them, as they found that some customers were not.

The folks in branches would greet customers with a cheery: “hello, have you used our ABMs today? Would you like to? Can I show you how?”

These staff were there to show the customer how to self-serve.

They expected the most resistant customers to be the oldies.

“Why would I want to use a darned ABM?” they expected the oldies to say.

Instead, the oldies were the most willing to be coached.

“Ooo, someone who can show me how to use an ABM. Yes please, thank you,” they all said.

Instead it was the youth who were the most resistant and rude.

The 30-year old male who thinks he knows it all, is king of the universe and a big swinging dick.

These guys would walk into the branch and be asked: “would you like to see how to use our ABMs?” and would respond with a bunch of swearwords, before walking up to the teller mumbling: “these guys think I don’t know how to use an ABM. Ha! Of course I do. Just don’t want to is all.”

Overall, I think the point is this: banks can move customers to self-serve, but will only achieve their cost cutting aims if they coach customers in how to use such self-service effectively.

Just chucking self-service out there, without any customer coaching to ensure it is guaranteed a safe landing, will just result in another expensive overhead to support that is over-engineered, under-utilised and costly to maintain.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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