For those of you who think you can bypass the fundamentals, I have two words for you: The Lakers!
I don’t usually follow the NBA but this year I found myself glued to the tube wondering if a bunch of incredible individual athletes would be bested by a team of average players. This should have been a four game sweep by Kobe, Shaq, Malone and the other superstars, but these overpriced, finger-pointing whiners forgot one basic fundamental: teamwork. Detroit was all about teamwork. And in the end it was the fundamentals of teamwork that enabled Detroit to not just win but humiliate the LA Lakers.
In one of my previous lives I had a boss who was more like a coach. Whenever I got off track of my goals or pushed the envelope a little too far, he would send me an email that said only this: “block and tackle.” It took a few times to understand what the heck he was trying to tell me. In this simple way I was constantly being reminded to get back to the basics.
Now some of you are thinking that I am advocating status quo. Not a chance. My point is that we bankers have a tendency to overlook the simple things that truly matter to our customers.
With the constant chatter about CRM this and CRM that, I think it would do us some good to take a step back and look at the big picture. To that point I want to highlight five customer interactions or “moments of truth” that are fundamental to a customer’s banking experience. I am defining a moment of truth as a critical or decisive situation on which much depends.
1. Account Opening – This should be a painless and fast process. I am talking five to ten minutes for a customer to open a DDA, sign up for online banking and telephone banking, and register for an ATM/check card. This is not the time to think cross-sell or up-sell. If just opening an account isn’t painless and quick for customers, you can’t expect them to want to go through the time and effort to get another product from you.
2. Branch Experience – A good branch experience doesn’t mean that you need to partner with a coffee company, buy a big screen TV for the customer lounge area, or even set up a kiddy day care in the corner office. Although those things may add to the experience, they don’t make the experience. People make the experience. Wow, it sounds so simple. Well, it is that simple. A friendly, knowledgeable staff will trump CNN and a café latte any day of the week.
“If you have competent folks with a sense of humor, you can equip them with potato guns instead of cash machines, and they’ll still convince you that banking with them is great.”
-David Trautman, Executive Vice President, Park National Bank
3. Problem Resolution – If you cannot solve your customers’ problems when they contact your call center or visit your branch or at least give them the feeling that you are trying to solve their problems, you likely won’t get a second chance to make it right. Your service personnel must be as friendly if not more so than your sales people. Let your customers know your turnaround times. For example, if a customer emails your service representative, send an immediate automatic response that provides a tracking number and indicates when the customer will receive a response. Remember, your customers have entrusted you with their money. The least you can do is give the perception that you care.
4. Major Purchase – The biggest purchase most customers will make is their homes. Purchasing a home is a trying experience. I should know, having moved among three states and two countries within the past 10 years. When customers come in to make this major purchase, make them feel welcome. You don’t need fancy technology to do this. Take advantage of DDA account information to prove to your customers that they’re not just another number. Don’t make customers repeat everything. Having to repeat the same information gives customers an uneasy feeling and will make them question why they are attempting to conduct more business with you.
5. Account Statement – The final moment of truth occurs when the statement arrives. Customers who have elected to conduct all of their banking business with you are entitled to the courtesy of one consolidated statement. A consolidated statement is a reflection of your relationship with the customer and vice versa. However, if your customers receive individual statements for every product, you will not only drown them in paper, you will also be making it easy for your competitors to highlight certain product pricing and potentially win that piece of your customers’ business.
In today’s banking environment I constantly hear talk around the next big bell or whistle, and a lot of the stuff is pretty cool. However, many times it is those same banks that should put more focus on fixing some of the basics before they invest money in the next big widget. Numerous new age initiatives have failed in banks of all sizes, not because they weren’t planned properly or didn’t get enough focus. These initiatives failed because instead of fixing the basics first they thought they could just slap a new technology on the front end and the problem would disappear. Down South we call that putting lipstick on the pig.
With planning season upon us, I recommend making sure you’ve got the five moments of truth covered, because at the end of the day those are the things that 80 percent of our customers truly care about.