With all the struggles in the banking world in recent times, with one bank failing after another, one thing is clear—retail banks must deliver superior customer service in order to survive.
Up until 2006, their future seemed secure no matter how ordinary their customer service practices. But their situation now is precarious. It is estimated that retail banks will not see a return on equity until 2015. And their future will depend upon delivering the kind of service that earns customer loyalty while they are, at the same time, reducing costs.
A recent survey by Bain and Company of almost 100,000 account holders was conducted to determine just what customers valued most in the service they received. The objective was to identify the most critical needs and the “nice-to-haves” on customers’ list of service expectations. With that knowledge (once accommodations were made), retail banks could begin to hope for a stream of loyal customers and for growth in their customer base through referrals from satisfied clients.
Their results confirm what we have been hearing during customer service training and consulting engagements for over two decades. Here, in a nutshell, is what the survey revealed:
- Credit unions and local, direct banks earn the best marks for providing the quality of customer interactions that bring clients back again and again.
- Customers highly value friendly service and personal attention.
- They prize efficiency and convenience.
- Routine transactions provide opportunities for the high-touch interactions customers appreciate but are costly for the banks.
- Customers look for good rates and easy-to-understand banking options.
- Customers do not like high or hidden fees. And they especially do not like it when banks change the rules on them mid-stream.
In order for retail banks to stay afloat, they need to figure out how to lower their costs while they continue to provide the positive and personal interactions that customers value.
One way to accomplish this is to take advantage of technology to deliver efficient service for the more mundane transactions and save the personal connections for the transactions with a greater payoff, like loan applications or replacing lost credit cards.
The positive “buzz” of happy customers can bring many new customers aboard…especially once their comments are part of social media…and it can strengthen a brand better than any expensive advertising campaign.
Ensure the loyalty of your customers by learning what they care about and serving them strategically.