Banks & Customer Service

Banks have notoriously bad customer service. Lots of people have told me that they hate their banks and the subsequent customer service they provide. Why do you think banks have such terrible customer service?

This is an interesting article about banks shifting from a (non-) customer service culture to sales one. The author says that if the banks concentrated more on customer service, that the sales would come easier.

I agree with him – more and more, buyers are considering customer service when making buying decisions. If banks decided to fix problems and not mess up when it comes to requests or orders, customers would consider that bank whenever they needed something.

The banks should try to make themselves the go to bank for all related to banking, which is better accomplished through customer service. Banks have to build trust and relationships with their customers and if customers are always getting a sales pitch, they may not trust the bank when the bank suggests they need something that could actually help them.

My bank is okay when it comes to customer service – I’ve never really had a problem with them, but I watch my statements and keep records of everything. However, I’m hesitant to buy anything they say “I need”, because they say I need everything.

Consumer banking is very competitive, so why don’t banks step up and try to make their customer service amazing? It surely is possible, but they either aren’t trying or don’t know how.

A few tips for any readers who happen to work for banks.

Mess up less.
Health, family, and money are probably the three most valued things people have. If doctors messed up as much banks did, it would be terrible. If schools messed up by putting kids in the wrong grade or putting the wrong grades on their scripts as much as banks mess up things of similar important, they would be in big trouble. Money is important to a lot of people and banks do happen to mess up a lot.

Banks should shift their focus to being more accurate and they’ll notice less of a need to provide customer service. This can be done by hiring better tellers and customer service representatives, giving them more and better training, and not setting performance goals based on quantity (they should be quality and accuracy based). The last point would also entail hiring more tellers and almost every point costs quite a bit of money, but if done right, would help make bank’s customer service far better.

Have humans answer the phone.
Banks have some of the most complicated phone menus available.  Some banks make it easy to get through to them, while others do not. Pressing 0 to speak with an operator was enough for Citi to start an ad campaign. Try and have a menu along the lines of:

Thank you for calling bank. If you are an existing account holder, please press 1. If you are not an existing account holder, please press 2. To speak with an operator, please push 0.

If they pressed 1: Please enter your account number found on your most recent statement. If you do not have this account number, please push 1 to be directed to an operator.

If they pressed 2 or 0: connected to a person.

Simple phone menus can make things much simpler and customers much happier. These are just two of the hundreds of things banks can do to improve customer service. Companies have to value and care about customer service for them to even try to start improving it. Hopefully banks will catch on.

2 Responses to “Banks & Customer Service”

  1. Maria Palma (CustomersAreAlways.com) said:

    Aug 08, 06 at 5:54 pm

    If there’s one industry that I expect good service from, it’s the banking industry. After all, they’re holding my precious money. My money is making them money, so I deserve the red carpet when I make an appearance 😉

  2. Kyle Summers said:

    Aug 09, 06 at 4:18 pm

    You say at the end “Companies have to value and care about customer service for them to even try to start improving it,” and that is similiar to what Dr. Phil McGraw (the talk show host) is quoted to say: “You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.” This seems to go for everything in life, including customer service.