Bank Policies – Killers for CX and EX

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Photo: Alamy

This week I decided to close a bank account that I have in Portugal and don’t use anymore. Expecting it would be quicker, I visited a branch, where I was greeted by one of the employees. In order to identify the account in the system, she asked me for a card associated, and then printed a few forms for me to sign. So far, so good.

To close the account, she said it was mandatory for me to provide both the credit and the debit cards associated with the account. As I don’t use the account, the credit card is in a drawer in London, and I was in Portugal. “Can you just inactivate the card in the system?”, I asked, only to see her face frown.

She continued to click and type on the computer, and until the end of the meeting never referred the credit card again or the obligation to hand it over. What followed was a request for me to sign two forms, which I did. “Sorry sir, can you please sign as per what I have in my computer”, she said, turning the screen in my direction.

I almost didn’t recognise the signature. My wife said, “Is that your signature?”. The signature was over 20 years old. Naturally, my writing had changed since, and I wasn’t able to recreate that. Her face frown again. “Well, you can check my id card. My signature is there”. Reluctantly, she accepted, and asked to copy the id card for proof.

Despite a few hurdles, all items in the close-bank-account list seemed to be ticked. But I had €2.19 in the account. She put the options to me: a) I could deposit €7.81, go to the cash machine (ATM) and withdraw €10. Or b) I could go to the teller and pay €5 to withdraw the €2.19. Needless to say, it was my turn to frown. I don’t usually like to be treated like a fool.

In any case, I didn’t want the €2.19 but could not contain myself and said the second option was non-sense. She responded “It is just the way it is. Rules are rules”. Again, I could not stay quiet, and told her it didn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way. And that certain rules are just idiotic. She didn’t empathise with me.

I decided to try and explain. Put a smile on my face, and said “You know, it is not your fault. You’re just following orders. But the person that is comfortably sitting at a desk, on the 30th floor of the bank’s HQ, very well paid to come up with these rules, would probably need to come down, and visit the gemba”. Finally, she got me!

Sir, if you don’t do anything, when the account is closed, they will send you a letter asking you to come in and get the €2.19. Then, you don’t have to pay or deposit anything to get the money”. She thought I would be happy with this hidden option c) and was disappointed when I frown again. “Really, and you think that makes sense?”, I asked.

At this point she was confused and probably thinking that I was one of those who is never happy. I tried to explain again. “You see, the bank will spend around €5 (paper, printer, post) to send me a letter, so I come and withdraw €2.19. Isn’t this non-sense?” Again, she got me, and nodded.

This is a very good and real example of where a bank is making up rules and policies that serve no real purpose, and sometimes make absolutely no sense. Killing the customer and employee experiences.

Rules and policies that will only increase customer effort, distrust, irritation and disloyalty. Also creating friction between customers and employees, who then get increasingly frustrated and feeling powerless.

We bump into similar things in retailers, telecom providers, hospitals, public services, etc. CX and EX killers which make no sense but amazingly aren’t eliminated, simply because there isn’t a process in place, to actually find them and measure their impact.

The first step to o find these CX and EX killers is definitely to put in place Voice-of-Customer (VoC) and Voice-of-Employee (VoE) initiatives. Without feedback, how will the policy makers understand the impact of their ideas? And how will the Experience Managers improve CX and EX?

3 principles to improve survey experience

On my blog post Break the fourth wall to improve survey experience I touched on the importance of Personalisation when it comes to design and build customer feedback surveys. But there are other things you should pay attention to, if you are truly interested in gathering your customers’ opinion.

KISS – Keep it simple

It is extremely important to follow the KISS principle and keep surveys simple. Often, we receive long and wordy surveys, which immediately put us off. We don’t have time, nor patience, to reply to lengthy questionnaires – Forrester recommends relational surveys to have no more than 15 questions, and transactional ones to have up to 10 questions.

Not long ago I received a survey invitation from Ryanair, in which they said it would take “no more than 5 minutes” of my time. But as soon as I got into the survey, I was advised it was not going to take “more than 10 minutes”. If I was already put off by the initial expectation, I surely was angry with the fact that it as misleading.

(Note: that was not the only reason I ended up not responding to the survey. The truth is that I don’t trust Ryanair’s intentions when it comes to VoC and CX, and I don’t believe they listen or care about customer’s opinions).

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KITTP – Keep it to the point

It is important to follow the KITTP principle (just made it up!) and keep surveys to the point. If it is transactional, ask for satisfaction, touch-point, effort or resolution. If it is relational, add questions around brand, product or competition. But make sure you avoid cluttering the survey with further questions, and don’t try to do market research in customer feedback surveys.

Surveys should be engaging and enticing. And that only happens if they’re objective and to the point. Ideally, surveys are effortless and fun to complete. You can use tactics like telling a story or using emojis. But don’t go off in tangents and stick to the questions that really matter and will surface valuable insight.

Same applies to the email invitations. It is not unusual to see survey invitations that not only lack the company’s branding, but also contain too much text. Bin, is their immediate destiny. Don’t try and shoot two birds with one stone putting marketing messages or up/cross-selling , in a customer feedback survey invitation.

KIC – Keep it consistent

Lastly, it is crucial to follow the KIC principle (there I go, making up even more acronyms!) and keep it consistent. Avoid at all cost having silos in your organisation (departments, teams, etc.) sending surveys using different platforms, branding or, even worse, different or wrong scales.

(Note: For heaven’s sake, if it is not in a 0 to 10 scale, it is not NPS!)

Make sure you have a joint approach to customer experience, and consistent customer feedback initiatives. Use a platform that allows you to enable and deploy different voice-of-the-customer initiatives, in various channels, but at the same time ensures consistency across those initiatives and data gathered.

How to understand your customer

One of the key disciplines of Customer Experience (CX) is Customer Understanding. In order to design, implement and provide an outstanding CX, companies need to know and understand their customers, and their customers’ needs.

In order to do that, companies need customer insight, that can be collected from various sources, one of them being the customers themselves. For that a Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) programme needs to be put in place.

VoC helps you understand customer requirements, and determine what they perceive as being most valuable to them. At this point, it is important to also be aware of the Kano Model, and the fact that there are different types of requirements:

  • Must-bes: those that customers expect by default. If met, they have no positive impact. If not met, they have huge negative impact.
  • One-dimensional: those that are stated by the company. If met, they result in additional satisfaction.  If not met, they result in dissatisfaction.
  • Attractive: those that will surprise and delight customers. If met, they will “wow” the customer. If not met, they will have no impact.

(Notice that it is normal to see, over time, a one-dimensional requirement become a must-be. And an attractive become a one-dimensional).

There are various ways to collect VoC.

  • Qualitative methods, like mining unsolicited customer feedback (e.g. phone calls, emails, social media), or conducting ethnographic research.
  • Quantitative methods, like analysing data from CRM and finance systems, or gathering information through surveys.

Qualitative research is extremely important and effective. Due to its nature, it is done on a small number of customers. However, results may be completely skewed if the customer sample is not quite right.

On the other hand, Quantitative research is done on a much larger number of customers. And this will allow companies to feel more confident on a more accurate picture of customers and their needs.

Research on a significantly large sample of customers can only be done when enabled by technology. There are various platforms available. In my opinion Qualtrics is probably the best, and one of the most trusted, platforms in the world.

(I first came across Qualtrics in the Summer of 2016, and the company I work for, Capventis, quickly decided to adopt it as one of the preferred technologies. Since then we built a team of certified Qualtrics experts, and have supported 30+ clients. It can be used for CX initiatives, as well as Employee, Brand or Product Experience).

With a complete understanding of the customer, his requirements, and what he values the most (or perceives as being of value) companies – those working under CX strategies (and with VoC programmes), or those undertaking CX initiatives (in particular at the research stage) – will be able to deliver outstanding experiences, differentiate in the marketplace and ultimately succeed and grow.