I am going to share a personal story, an experience, that far too many banks are giving their customers.
Undoubtedly, it is costing banks money and long-term customers.
Perhaps you have had a similar experience.
Perhaps your bank may need to tweak some things so this same type of experience is not replicated and turning away your customers and profits.
Here’s the story…
I recently called my bank to take care of an issue.
I simply needed to cancel an account I was no longer using.
It had no balance but was still sitting open for some reason.
I called their 800# published on their web site and got the typical menu.
I went through the menu trying to reach customer service.
The first menu took me to a second menu.
The second to a third. The 3rd to a 4th, the 4th to a 5th, and then I finally had the option to speak to a person.
Upon achieving what seemed to be success, I was put on hold for about 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes the rep told me that my request needed to be handled by a team leader.
I was put on hold for another 5 minutes.
I then needed to explain the issue all over again to get it resolved…..finally.
Then I got an email asking me to rate the quality of their service. I am sure they wanted a 5 STAR review, but not a chance.
I invested another 5 minutes in an attempt to provide them with constructive feedback.
Needless to say, the extremely simple task took almost a half hour of my time before it was completed.
Overall, the experience was frustrating and time consuming.
Even though, once I eventually got to the right person, things were efficiently taken care of, the process of getting the issue resolved soured me on the entire experience.
My experience when calling a branch office sometimes is very similar other than navigating the automated menu.
Typically the least experienced person is relegated to answering the phones.
They often don’t know the answer or have the authority to take care of the issue.
This leaves customers frustrated and not wanting to interact with the Call Center or the Branch.
Another experience that created frustration recently was an old savings account set up for my daughter, over 20 years ago, when she was a minor.
She recently got married and wanted to get everything converted into her married name.
We live 2 ½ hours apart, but the bank told us we both needed to come into the bank to transfer this into her joint account since when it was opened she was a minor.
So once we arranged a time to be in the same city where there were branches of our bank, we expected things to be quickly taken care of with both of us present.
At the branch, there was not a single client present when we walked in. There were 5 or 6 bank employees. The bankers were meeting and talking to other bankers.
It took 15 minutes in the middle of the morning for a banker to be available to help us.
Even then, that banker didn’t have the authority to close the account allowing my daughter to move the funds to her new joint account with her new husband.
It took 2 bankers to complete the transaction and 30 minutes of our time to accomplish a simple transfer.
Both of these examples are from the fall of 2022.
Call Center and Branch Technologies should be making things easier and faster for customers.
But as policies, procedures, and internal authority limits to manage risk are layered in, you may be dramatically increasing the cost, time and customer frustration in completing your processes like my bank did in the two instances above.
Often, when I talk directly to bankers about the internal procedures they are required to follow, they are as frustrated as are their customers.
These issues are just the tip of the “service dysfunction” iceberg.
So what is a potential solution?
What should you consider doing to ensure you aren’t creating a similar negative experience?
1. Review your auto attendant messaging. Many banks have fallen prey to making menus too complex or features buried so deep customers will never find them. There are simple approaches to structuring menus that will make them easy to navigate and help customers intuitively find what they are looking for..
2. Be sure to always leave “For Customer Service press 0” as a fast way to get to a service person.
3. Staff appropriately. When I call the same bank and am always in queue for 5 minutes or longer, I am less likely to call in the future and more likely to leave.
4. Empower your bankers in the Call Center and Branch to do what is necessary to help clients. Train them. Put help resources online for them so they can easily recall how to accomplish infrequent tasks. This approach will ensure you have qualified people answering the calls and assisting your customers versus inexperienced reps transferring me to someone who knows how and has the authority to act.
5. Ask your bankers what gets in their way of fixing an issue for the client, one and done. Find out what procedures, lack of training or systems access may be impeding their success in helping customers.
6. Call the call center or branch yourself for service. See if it is easy or difficult to connect with a banker that can help you. There is nothing like experiencing your own service to understand the need for change.
7. Leverage your Online Banking portal for more self-service functions. Once a customer is authenticated through Online Banking, you can provide them access to simple request forms that can be forwarded to the back office where the work can be processed at your convenience. Customers win by allowing them to request at their convenience and you win because this approach is many times more efficient.
8. Your customers typically need to go online to figure out how to reach you. While online, making it easy for them to take care of their issue one and done themselves is a SMART move.
When I ran Call Centers and Online Banking for a bank, call volume was growing by 20% per year.
That growth was not a number we could easily staff for.
We got creative with our self-service auto attendant options, streamlining the menu to make it easier for customers to answer their own questions at their convenience.
We then took the same approach with Online Banking.
We found ways of allowing customers to complete more self-service steps while online.
They loved it.
At that time a call answered by a human cost around $4.00.
Serviced by the Auto Attendant cost around $.11 and when a client took care of it themselves online, it cost less than $.01.
By making our self-service options a priority and easy for the customer, we were able to increase satisfaction on all fronts while decreasing call volume by 10% per year.
Not only did call volume no longer grow, it started decreasing.
By focusing on easy to complete self-service options through the Call Center and Online Channels, we were able to address a high volume of service needs for clients of all ages.
The impact to the bank was worth millions of dollars of savings annually, but customer satisfaction also increased.
The self-service focus wasn’t the only solution that drove this kind of success.
We also made sure our banker processes were customer friendly and that our bankers were fully trained to help the customer. Training was an ongoing process.
We also provided them with online resources they could refer to when a process or procedure was unfamiliar.
We taught them how to find the answer versus ensure that they knew all the answers.
Then we made sure they had the proper authority to take care of the clients needs.
We found ways of managing risk by creating monitoring reports instead of dual approvals.
This created the kind of customer experience that everyone on the team was proud of and customers raved about.
You may need to begin by looking into training, processes, what team members are authorized to do, or the technology that enables your bankers to create a great self-service and in-person service experience.
It is a challenging endeavor for sure, but it is worth the journey from a customer satisfaction and cost point of view.
If you need help getting started with this type of initiative, schedule your free strategy session today.
In our free strategy sessions, we get to the root of the top 1-3 issues and give you a simple action plan to begin improving to see immediate, visible progress, all at no cost to you so your organization can experience the kind of results that we deliver.
Take the next step and schedule your call today.
Tim Scholten has been nicknamed by many of his colleagues as the “ROI Repair Master” and he can bring this same clarity and Visible Progress to your bank.
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