How to lose a customer without even knowing

Not too long ago I wrote about how non-sense policies – built by banks who do not treat experience management as a discipline – can kill not only customer but also employee experiences. Here it is: Bank Policies – Killers for CX and EX.

Companies can also kill experiences way before the customer bumps into one of those non-sense policies. They can lose customers before even acquiring them, and without even knowing it. Some times in the most basic of interactions.

That is exactly what happened last week. I was looking around for mortgages and, after some online browsing, I decided to visit three banks – those that not only have a good brand, but are also known for having the best offerings.

The interaction with the first bank was formal and process-oriented. It focused on the information they needed for the “mortgage calculator” and risk assessment – How much is your annual income? How much is the house? How much do you want to borrow?

The interaction with the second bank was very friendly and customer-focused. They wanted to know the purpose of the buy and understand my needs – Is it a house for the family to live in? Are you investing to sell or rent? How urgent is it for you to buy it?

The third bank lost my business without even knowing. Without me having the opportunity to talk to anyone about a mortgage. Funnily enough, it was the bank that (according to reviews) has the best financial offers, with the lowest interest rates.

The story is simple. I went to the branch and rang the door (Covid-19 procedure requires doors closed and one person at a time). There was a man inside, who pretended he didn’t see me. I waited a few seconds, knocked on the door and waved.

Reluctantly he came to the door and shouted from the inside that it was lunch time, and I should come back one hour later. I smiled, walked back to the car, and drove away. Needless to say that I didn’t come back.

Despite the prospect of good financial conditions, I didn’t come back because…

  1. A person that doesn’t ask what my enquiry is about isn’t interested in helping me;
  2. A person that doesn’t open the door to talk to me doesn’t deserve my attention;
  3. A bank that is only open 9AM to 3PM isn’t necessarily thinking about my needs;
  4. A bank that closes at lunchtime is definitely not making it convenient to me.

This bank lost a customer that was looking for a product that would be very lucrative. And they have no idea they lost me, let alone why they lost me. Hence, even if they wanted, they could not do anything about it.

There is a strong chance they will continue losing customers due to this sort of interaction, consequently struggling to acquire new customers, despite efforts in customer acquisition activities (e.g. marketing campaigns, great financial offerings).

They are basically blind. Probably wondering why better products are not attracting new customers. Questioning themselves what can they do or change to grow. Scratching their heads to understand how they are going to deliver results.

To avoid this situation, all they had to do was simply…

  1. Acknowledge my presence, open the door and greet me;
  2. Ask me what I needed, and tell me they would be delighted to help;
  3. Inform that it was lunch time, and apologise for the inconvenience;
  4. Offer to schedule a time that would suit me best (on that or another day).

Post Script – I closed a deal with the second bank. A mortgage is a very important step in one’s life. And on those kinds of situations you want to deal with people that empathise with you, and that you feel will have your best interest at heart and mind.

Not coincidentally, the person in this bank had a card holder in his desk (see picture). For those who don’t know Portuguese, the side that faces the customer has the person’s name and says “You have got all my attention“, while the side that faces the person has two smiley faces meaning: “smile” and “listen“.

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