Personalized Service in a Microwave World

Personalized Service in a Microwave WorldPersonalized Service in a Microwave World

I have the opportunity to do a lot of client interviews in my job and have had the pleasure of meeting many bank and credit union C-level leaders. Each takes immense pride in their organization, their teams, and how they fit into the fabric of their own community — from Hobbs, NM to Des Moines IA; Fremont, OH to Baton, Rouge LA; and everyplace in between.

In every interview, the one question I consistently ask is: “What makes your bank/credit union unique in your market?” Without fail, every person says the same thing: “We offer personalized service that accountholders can’t get anywhere else.”

But what exactly does that mean? Can you be sure that you are covering every interaction that your customers or members expect, in the way they demand? And have you kept up with the way that consumers are changing their engagement with companies?

Consider that even 20 years ago, the only way for an accountholder to contact their bank or credit union was in person or on the phone. A part of life was waiting in long lines or on hold for service.

Today we live in a microwave society — short attention spans and instant gratification. As consumers, when we need help or have a question, we are able to reach out in a myriad of ways that suit our urgency, needs and lifestyles. We also expect immediate attention and answers.

So that leads to the question: “Are community banks and credit unions doing enough with every interaction with customers and members?” Do they meet their needs and expectations, or are they short-sighted when considering definitions of service?

I recently saw an interesting infographic published by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) entitled “The New Age of Customer Service.” The information brought together how the personal and digital aspects of service are both imperative for today’s consumers. Consider these statistics:

  • 57% of consumers expect a response regardless of the time of day
  • 32% expect social media responses in under 30 minutes
  • 32% think the phone is the most frustrating way to connect with a company
  • 73% would prefer to solve a problem with a real person

Social media is the new normal for consumer interaction. In fact, Twitter-based customer services increased by 250% in the last two years, and a business can increase consumer advocacy by up to 25% by answering a complaint on social media.

The technology you employ must be universal in order to ensure your customers or members are getting accurate, consistent and real-time information regardless of how they are engaging with you. It must be reliable, flexible, and overarching to keep up with data flowing in and data going out. What your team sees on their computer screen, tablet, or cell phone must reflect what the accountholder is seeing. And your bases must be covered to include any inlet of interaction that engagement can take.

Points to ponder

  • Do you have procedures in place for engaging inquiries — via phone, email, in person, chat, online forms — that include response timeliness?
  • Do your accountholders have the ability to speak with someone 24/7/365?
  • Are you monitoring all of your social media accounts and responding to posts and inquiries within 30 minutes?
  • Do each of your employees see the same information when speaking to a customer or member, and can they review previous conversations that have taken place?
  • And finally, is your technology helping or hindering accountholder service?

The best way to check your own accountholder service may be doing your own secret shopping, taking time to contact your team via every avenue you offer, keeping track of response times, and following a script that will allow you to evaluate what the real experience is. Strategies are best made from first-hand experiences that can be shared.