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Jerry Silva, Principal at PG Silva Consulting, is a 25 year industry veteran and thought leader in retail banking. He recently had the opportunity to discuss what comprises a high quality customer experience with Kelly McSwain-Campbell, Customer Experience Director at US Bank. In this role, Kelly is responsible for working across the enterprise with all lines of business and channels to help ensure teams deliver a differentiated customer experience that builds stronger and deeper relationships.
Delighting the Customer: Simple Works
As a banker and technologist, I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with systems that manage customer self-service channels like the ATMs and online banking, or with the systems that bank staff uses to interact with the customer. As a consumer of banking services myself, I’ve always been interested in the people side of services delivery and how banks can deliver quality experiences at the branch and the attended contact center.
I recently had a chat with Kelly McSwain-Campbell, SVP and Customer Experience Director at Minneapolis-based US Bancorp, and asked her for some insight into today’s challenges and how she manages to delight the customer in spite of the increasing complexity of the banking environment. Organizational and technology complexity sometimes work to hinder our ability to provide an excellent customer experience and we as bankers sometimes find ourselves even more distant from our customers.
But during my discussion with Ms. McSwain-Campbell, she made it clear that given the challenges with managing customer expectations across the multiple delivery channels, she is focusing on simple but effective ways to stay connected with customers at each point of interaction. We spoke about three areas that can ensure customers continue to enjoy the best banking experience possible.
Sometimes, Back-to-Basics is the Best Bet
Perhaps the most important part of the experience is the front line employee. Often when customers want to do something more complex than withdraw or transfer money, he or she doesn’t care that the branch representative or contact center agent has to deal with multiple systems or possibly inefficient processes to resolve the issue. Nor should they as the role of the front line employee is to ensure the customer’s expectation that the bank has all of the necessary information to help resolve whatever issue or answer whatever question there may be.
This attention to the customer experience includes all of the front-line staff at the bank, whether it’s the teller, product specialist, or the first-response representative at the contact center. For this reason, explained Ms. McSwain-Campbell, it is vital to hire the right people for customer-facing positions at the outset by ensuring that human resources is included in the bank’s customer experience strategies. The bank employee helping the customer is the voice and the face of the bank during that interaction, and that experience greatly impacts how the customer views the company.
Ms. McSwain-Campbell went on to explain the critical role that training plays to teach employees the fundamentals of customer service, the processes that make customer experience consistently excellent, as well as the use of the bank’s technology. For example, it is imperative that the customer feels that the individual employee has taken full ownership to resolve the problem or address the issue, following through and keeping the customer apprised of the process and then of the final resolution. In her experience, this simple concept of ownership has proven to significantly increase loyalty among customers and represents a desire to work on behalf of the customer to resolve any issues. It emphasizes that the bank is on their side.
A second focal area of excellent customer experiences is business process. Whether enhancing an existing service or creating a new product or process the organization must review it from the perspective of the customer. Here, again, simplicity and common sense often lead to great customer experiences. An example of a simple process that leads to customer delight is the intelligent hand-off between employees for problem resolution. If the first line bank employee isn’t equipped to resolve the customer’s request, the employee identifies the right person to help the customer and stays engaged until the successful transition of the customer to the right expert. This includes explaining the customer’s need and all relevant information to the appropriate expert so that they customer is not required to tell their story multiple times. In this way, customers don’t feel that they’re just being bounced from one area to another, but instead are being introduced to the employee with the appropriate skills and knowledge to take full ownership of their issue, all with a single transfer.
This very basic work process has an enormous impact on the customer. In both of these examples, focusing on the processes helps us ensure that our goal of excellent customer satisfaction and loyalty isn’t an afterthought, but is planned as part of the bank’s business strategy.
The third area of focus in delighting the customer is perhaps the most challenging – creating technology infrastructures built on the premise of excellent customer experiences. While mergers have had the effect of creating complex infrastructures that require Ms. McSwain-Campbell and her peers to retrofit customer service strategies into legacy applications, the role of the Customer Experience Director also provides critical guidance when technology changes are made to improve the ability to create great experiences with new technology. Given the complexities involved in doing so, it is important to identify a leader that can work across business lines and organizational boundaries, in a matrixed environment, and represent the voice of the customer.
It would be nice to have perfect systems that could automate our ability to deliver the perfect customer experience to our customers, especially across channels. But banks can’t afford to wait for that perfect future. The need to delight the customer at every interaction is critical, especially for larger banks that must counter the perception of being monolithic and impersonal corporations. US Bancorp’s Kelly McSwain-Campbell does this by focusing on improvements to the people and processes in the bank, making small and often simple changes that matter to customers, and guides the next generation of technology toward an improved ability to delight the customer.
For information on the Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report for Retail Banking – a global survey of consumers and bank professionals conducted in early 2013 – click here: