Customer service leadership among big banks: The time is now!

by Marc Sokol on August 24, 2011

In addition to the  overall 2011 Customer Experience Ratings, Bruce Temkin recently published a summary of ratings for Customer Service across multiple industries.

I have worked with a variety of financial institutions over the years, so I am naturally curious how they score. I also know many well intentioned, customer-centric people who work in banks, investment firms and insurance companies, so the data strikes something of a personal note.

Banks, especially big banks, are really underperforming in customer service. They should be way better than what Temkin’s 2011 study tells us.

I’m sure there are plenty of good reasons why they don’t score higher:

Size. Big Banks just too large to provide strong, consistent customer service.  Hmm…Wal-Mart is pretty big, we’d all have to agree.  While they are not top of the retail industry for customer service, they managed to beat out just about all banks. How sad.

Maybe it’s due to having a large distributed network as do many of the large retail banks; you can’t drive customer service consistently all over now, can you?  Hmm…Rite Aid and Walgreens are each in the top twenty.  In fact most of the top twenty firms have a large and geographically broad distribution network.

Big Banks are just in an industry where you can’t control costs. You see the impact of Federal legislation every day.  Something has to give.  So how does Southwest Airlines, a company in an industry that clearly has limited control over costs, manage to be so high in customer service ratings?

Maybe financial service institutions are just different than retail and hotels. Yes, they are different, but then how do you explain USAA insurance taking the top spot in customer service over all other companies, and Edward Jones investments taking the number two spot?  Even American Express made the top 20, despite being in the credit card industry.

Then again Big Banks, take heart: at least you deliver better customer service than wireless, TV and Internet service companies.  Hmm… maybe that’s not something to brag about.

For those banks who truly care about leading through customer service, there is plenty of room to improve.  The time to do so is now.

What are you waiting for?

BestCustomerConnection, by Marc Sokol

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Adrian Swinscoe August 25, 2011 at 4:21 am

Hi Marc,
This is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit recently and am going to some work on. Despite examples of good service in some financial institutions, one of the big reasons I hear about why they are not doing more about their customer service issues, particularly in retail banking, is to do with compliance.

That, however, I think is a weak excuse. What do you think?

Adrian Swinscoe recently posted..Brand extension or extension of trust?

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