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Delivering stellar service in banking

I keep thinking about stellar service and what it could mean.

Very rarely do you experience stellar service these days.

With airlines, it’s a pain to fly.  The airport experience is degrading and the flight itself is no longer exceptional, even in the best class airlines, thanks to the loss of business in recent years resulting in cost cutting and staff demotivation.

The same is true of utilities.  You go for the best gas, electricity or broadband options and usually find they are not the best and, if you call to change things, it’s hours on the telephone being bounced from pillar to post.

By comparison, banking is actually pretty good. 

Sure, you can get irritated by small things, but remember that banking is service that is delivered at nominal charge to most people with a smile.

So banking should come out better in customer surveys.

The reason it doesn’t is because banking is seen as some curse of charges and excessive fees which, in many cases, is not the case.

Take foreign exchange fees for example.

We’re probably quite happy for a hotel to give useless exchange rates to convert our cash but go to the bank, who offer competitive exchange rates with a fee, and everyone complains about the fee.

Overall, the bank is offering a cheaper service, but the fee is the issue.

So how could stellar service work in banking better?

Well, here are a few ideas.

First, drop the call centre scripts.  They inhibit staff and make the bank far less friendly.  Let call centre representatives talk with people as people, and hire the best people to talk.

That’s what ING Direct and First Direct do, and is the reason for hiring actors, performers, singers and musicians as staff rather than bankers.

Second, get the C-level and their families to use the bank’s services regularly.  Test everything from the internet logon to the branch, and report back.  There’s nothing like trying a service to see if it works well.  For example, self-service banking is all well and good but how long does it take? Is the security onerous, arduous or desirous?  Is making a payment a simple doubleclick, trebleclick or so many clicks I’ve lost the will to live click?

Third, when in branch, check the logic.  Are the branch people motivated and happy or fed up and miserable?  Are there queues out the door at lunchtime, or is everything smooth and efficient?  Are the pens at the teller counters intact, or cheap looking old biros chewed down to the chaff?

Fourth, if you think that money is the one thing that gets us all into a state of anxiety, how can you deanx the process?  You know what, the old Carlsberg ad with the professional masseuse in the branch is not such a bad idea…

Finally, when you’re going to charge a fee, make it far more transparent.  Make it clear what is charged and why, and what is free.  Show how other businesses – hotels, PayPal and more – charge fees on top of the bank fees, and create a little more knowledge about the value the bank is giving to the customer.

After all, the reason why most people get so fed up with banks is that they only ever hear the news about bonuses and profits.  Most bonuses and profits are being made from non-retail client activity as general retail banking is not the biggest money-spinner in the world.

Why not bring some clarity to this area, and show how customers get stellar service for peanuts.

That’s what Metro Bank is trying to do in the UK, which is why they talk about no more stupid rules, and it’s what First Direct have done for years.

Isn’t it strange how the other banks just don’t seem to respond?



About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.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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