Driving Branch Performance through Customer Satisfaction Research: How Wachovia Bank Uses Customer Feedback to Improve Service Delivery and Customer Retention

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How Wachovia Bank Uses Customer Feedback to Improve Service Delivery and Customer Retention

Wachovia Bank, a 119-year-old institution with more than 750 offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, wanted to enhance its customer service efforts through a more proactive approach to customer satisfaction.

In the past, the bank had conducted satisfaction research through mail-in surveys and had used mystery shoppers to monitor branch performance, but wanted to increase the level of detail and the amount of feedback provided to all of its branches. The bank also wanted more timely feedback and the ability to respond to any customer problems almost immediately.

The bank's new objective was to use one-to-one, telephone-based dialogue with its customers to drive the quality of service delivery and, in turn, improve customer satisfaction and retention. One-to-one dialogue would have the added advantage of increasing personal contact with customers and increasing the depth of feedback. The effort would involve measuring customer satisfaction evenly and systematically at 450 of its 750 offices. However, beyond measuring customer satisfaction, Wachovia's goals were to use the data gathered from its telephone-based program to drive its performance incentive program.

Working with Sky Alland Marketing, Wachovia launched its dialogue-based program in February 1998. That program, which is continuing today and is now concluding its second three-month interval, was designed to contact Wachovia customers who have had recent interactions at the bank's branches, ask them about the quality of service they received, and alert the branches to any issues requiring follow-up. Using a random sample from each branch, the callers contacted 4,000 customers each month during the initial three-month period, capturing ongoing feedback from customers about the quality of their recent interactions with branch personnel.

Program Design

An average of 15 customer relations associates at the marketing firm's call center are devoted to contacting Wachovia customers in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina who have had recent interactions at a branch - inside or at the drive-through - or who have opened an account.

Among other things, customers are asked to rate:

* The ability of the branch to conduct their business quickly and efficiently.

* The courtesy of branch staff (including tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers).

* The staff's knowledge of products and services.

* Overall satisfaction with the branch.

* How they feel about Wachovia.

* Whether they would recommend the bank to others.

Throughout the conversation, the caller allows for and records open-ended comments. The open-ended comments provide Wachovia with feedback on any issue that affects customer satisfaction, such as line waits, employee performance, and fees and bank policies. Feedback can also include praise for good service.

Examples of comments include:

* "Whenever there's a discrepancy, branch employees always do the right thing in favor of the customer."

* "There is a line sometimes. Branch should hire some more employees."

* "Customer is concerned because he has overdraft protection and was charged for bouncing a check. The personal banker did resolve this problem."

* "Everyone is very friendly and nice. The customer appreciates that the staff knows her by name."

Alerts and Follow-Up

An alert process built into the program notifies Wachovia of any customer feedback requiring follow-up. When a customer responds to any question negatively (with a rating of three or below on a scale of one to seven), the marketing firm faxes an alert directly to the affected branch and area management. The customer is asked whether he or she wants a follow-up call from Wachovia. …