Why the Bank Customer Experience Matters Creating the Ultimate Banking Experience

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1 WHITEPAPER Why the Bank Customer Experience Matters Cheryl Flink, PhD. Senior Vice President, Research

2 2 Why the bank Customer experience Matters The Great Recession has stunned consumers and made many skeptical of their banks and their motives. Winning customers and keeping them loyal is imperative. Satisfied customers refer. They add products to their financial portfolio. They are the lifeblood of banking, and drive the bottom line. According to a bank study conducted by Lariviere, every 1% increase in loyalty is associated with a 17% higher likelihood of repurchasing Forrester Research found that customer experience quality could drive more than $240M in increased revenue for one large bank J.D. Power reports that banks can increase incremental deposit growth of 3% annually with only a 5% increase in highly committed customers Every new encounter alters a customer s recall of a prior encounter. Thus every customer interaction can make or break a brand. - Gerald Zaltman How Customers Think Clearly, a superior banking customer experience directly impacts a bank s financial health. What then, do banking customers want? What would create the ultimate banking experience? Let s take a look at what those components are. Components of the ultimate banking experience Banking service matters far more to customers than factors such as facility appearance or convenience. Service components can be divided into five factors that build upon and reinforce customers satisfaction and loyalty: Efficiency: The single, most important attribute to customers is respect for their time. Minimal wait times, transactions handled accurately and efficiently. Problem experience: Next up - Resolve any of my problems quickly. Knowledge: After efficiency and problem resolution comes banking expertise. Knowledge of the bank s product portfolio, the ability to match needs with information. Relevancy: Once you d proven you have the expertise, customers want to be treated as individuals. Attention to individual needs and customized advice based on the person s financial situation. Trust: With the foundation built, you can earn customer s ultimate reward of trust. Banking personnel can be trusted and have the customers best financial needs at heart.

3 3 These five characteristics form a hierarchy: Highly loyal customers rated their experiences much higher than at-risk customers, particularly for time to wait; asking needsbased questions; and using the customer s name. The table below examines the differences in experience between at-risk and highly loyal customers and the ratings the two groups gave on questions related to efficiency, knowledge, and relevancy. Market Force has worked extensively with almost every major bank and found the same factors drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. Compare the following results: Category Question Low-Sat Customers High-Sat Customers Efficiency Time waited for branch employee Experience Overall quality of service Knowledge Asks questions to determine financial needs/concerns 31% 46% Relevance How well recommendations fit needs Knowledge Proactively recommend the bank s product services 69% 82% Relevance Use my name 54% 77% Overall quality of service, wait time, and how well recommendations fit needs reveal large gaps between highly loyal and at-risk customer experiences. For a different bank customer, we assessed the importance of sales associate behaviors on customer satisfaction. Again, the data aligns with the pyramid, showing specifically the

4 4 importance of knowledge, relevancy and trust. The results are presented as an index (100 is average), with the most important factors affecting satisfaction at the top, the least important at the bottom. Perception/Behavior Index Knowledgeable 173 Enthusiastic about the bank s offerings 164 Sincerely interested in you and your needs 160 Engaging and built a good rapport 159 Actively listened to identify opportunities 145 Acted in a professional manner 142 Asked at least one question to probe your need 140 Addressed all your questions or concerns 134 Asked if there was anything else he/she could do for you today 127 Used your name at least once during the meeting 122 Courteous and friendly 117 Recommend relevant products or options to meet your needs 103 Recommended product based on knowledge of your current situation 102 Available to meet your needs 86 Introduced himself or herself 83 Thanked you for your business 82 Bank employee acknowledged you within 30 seconds of entering 53 Smiled and greeted you in a friendly manner 24 Being enthusiastic, sincere, and having a good rapport with customers has the highest impact on customer satisfaction, reinforcing the need to build knowledge, relevancy, and trust. what customers experience today Given what customers want in their banking experience, what do they actually experience? Market Force has found clear examples of both mundane (or even irritating) experiences and those that articulate the ultimate experience. Listen to what some customers have said about their banking experience, and note how little effort it would take to move the experience from mundane to outstanding. The Mundane Experience Add a personal greeting: The transaction was completely silent. It seemed he was doing me a favor by handling my deposit. I handed him my transaction and there was nothing. Use the customer s name: There were no other customers in the teller s line, when I entered the branch. The branch was clean and well maintained. I was offered help by a teller, as soon as I entered. She did not smile. She said, Can I help you? She started helping me without asking me my name or offering any other greeting.

5 5 Suggest other services: The employee did not seem to appreciate my business. Her attitude was very mechanical. She did not ask me if I wanted to talk to a banker or offer products. Now look at what The Ultimate Experience was like for one customer: The banker walked out of his office as the teller escorted me there. He smiled, shook hand, got my name, welcomed me, and invited me into his office. We chatted a bit and then he asked permission to ask me some questions. He handled the inquiry in a friendly and professional manner and offered choices of accounts. He also suggested that another advisor follow up with me. He offered brochures on checking and savings accounts and talked about the personal approach at their bank. He talked about how he enjoys getting out and meeting with their small business owners and seeing their operations so he can help them. He was efficient, yet friendly and not pushy, handling his requests for my personal financial information with tact and diplomacy. He attempted to close on opening an account now and, when I declined, offered to follow up with me. He asked when would be a good time and got my contact information. He thanked me and assured me he would be in touch and invited me to stop in any time. Creating an experience that shifts beyond a utilitarian model to a more personalized, relevant one delights customers... and that impacts the ability to acquire and retain customers in a market with many competitive choices and threats. Tips for creating the ultimate banking experience In order to create a brand-level ultimate experience, every branch must clearly focus on the five components that matter to satisfaction and loyalty. How does a bank drive hundreds or thousands of branches to create that experience? Our tips focus on the ability to Listen, Lead, Measure, and Train. 1) Listen for and understand the customer perception The following are examples of reported customer perceptions and how bank employees have misunderstood. One of the first responsibilities for front line managers is to understand and acknowledge the customer s perception and use that information to drive change not question the validity of the perception: Customer Perception: No one greeted me when I walked in. I didn t know where to go to open a new account. Everyone was busy. I picked up a brochure and read it, trying to get information. After 15 minutes I gave up and left. Employee Perception The customer should do something to catch our eye. If a customer sits and reads brochures we think he doesn t need any help or has been helped

6 6 2) Lead Customer Perception: The employee did not seem interested in me when I was opening my account. She kept looking out in the lobby and at the tellers. She seemed rushed. I felt as if I was a bother and something more important was going on somewhere in the bank. Employee Perception: We have so much emphasis on acknowledging customers and keeping our lines short. I was looking at the teller line and trying to figure out a way to help out. Employees need to see their leaders live the brand they will serve customers as their leaders model and reward that behavior. A program with strong leadership has these elements: We know that leaders must be completely vested and involved in creating the ultimate banking experience. It is not something that can be delegated. Top level support from the CEO down Strong communication No excuses environment: There must be an acceptance that the customer s perception is reality Goals and recognition of outstanding interactions or examples of service Coaching Goals and supporting strategies 3) Measure Modeling and leadership starts the process. Measurement provides the tools for change. Establish metrics and expectations. Understand the in-branch experience from both the customers perspectives and the operational behaviors that create those perspectives. Tie customer experience improvements to financial metrics. Understand the gaps between top 10% and bottom 10% and help the bottom 10% achieve at least the average score for the company. You will not be able to change what you do not measure. 4) Train Hand-in-hand with leadership and measurement across training. Banks must clearly define the skills and behaviors employees need to deliver a great experience. Here are some examples around creating respect, recognition, and relevance: If a customer registers a complaint, do your employees know what to say? Do they know what to do? Are they empathetic?

7 7 Are they comfortable calling clients by name--if not, why? Do they feel confident confirming with client that they ve delivered great service? Do they genuinely thank clients for their business? Do they look for ways to go above and beyond? A very small investment in being helpful pays great dividends. Summary Banks that invest in creating the ultimate banking experience will have more highly committed customers with higher deposits. Investments should be made in the five major components of customer experience: Efficiency, problem experience, relevancy, knowledge, and trust. Invest in programs so you can SEE your branches through your customers eyes, ACT faster with confidence, and GROW the bottom line.

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