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Some banks didn’t get the customer experience memo

Some banks didn’t get the customer experience memo

Sometimes life just gifts you a reminder of why you do what you do.

In this profession, you can’t help but consciously assess every service you interact with for its weak points, every website or app for its ability to deliver on top tasks.

There are however few richer seams for facepalm moments than when dealing with banks. It’s unlikely you’ll need me to prompt you to remember an example where a bank has let you down in some capacity.

I’ve had one of those myself in the past few weeks, although it’s gone well past a ‘moment’ and is swiftly turning into a major drama to the point where popcorn and a large soft drink may be in order.

I won’t exhaust you with the minutiae, suffice to say this is one of the more onerous dealings you can have with a financial institution. As an existing customer I had initiated an application online, as all signs pointed to this being the quickest, slickest option.

Things were progressing reasonably well with the online process. So I was pleasantly surprised when an email arrived not from a generic bank email address, but from an individual. With a name. The introduction went something like this:
“I am going to be your direct point of contact throughout your application. I will normally be in touch with you every 3 to 4 days to give you an update or just have a general catch up with you.”


There was also a direct line phone number included, which was even more impressive. So enthused was I by this development that I immediately responded to the email, thanking the individual for getting in touch, waxing lyrical about the service they were providing, and tagging on the end a minor query that I needed answered.

Almost instantaneously the response came back. Not however the one I wanted, or expected.

“Thank you for your email,” it said. “You will receive a response within 3 – 5 working days”.

I decided to give the direct phone number a try. As it happens, calls went unanswered or the line was busy, with no voicemail.

My heart sank.

During the subsequent, unpleasant duration of the process, there hasn’t been a single proactive approach from my contact. Weeks later, I have yet to hear this person’s voice, or to receive responses in under a week to simple email queries.

What this bank had done was set my expectations needlessly high, then ensured they roundly missed. The bank had offered the illusion of personal customer care, but failed to follow through.

A Genesys Global Survey from 2009 reported that the single most requested improvement to customer service was “better human service”. It’s encouraging if companies are aware of this; not so much if the only action is to try and fake it.

Needless to say I’m rubbing my hands together awaiting an opportunity to offer feedback on my experience. Perhaps I may not even have that opportunity, we’ll see.

CX (you knew there had to be an acronym) is not defined by an email, or a website, or a contact form, or a phonecall. The terrifying challenge for companies is that customer experience is ALL of these and more. It is cross–channel, multi–device and must be seamless.

Your mileage may vary. Perhaps you are overjoyed with the service you get from your bank. Perhaps not. The fact is that banks have known for some time now that experience is a key differentiator. They know that following the events of 2007/8 they have mountains to climb to regain trust and credibility with their customers.

The ultimate winners in this new world will not be the first to join the dots, but those who ensure that the work of joining up isn’t left to customers.

By Rick Monro

Rick was UX Director at Fathom from 2014 to 2017, when he left to take up a role as Principal UX Architect at Puppet.

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