Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Way Too Complicated. (Editor's Column)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Way Too Complicated. (Editor's Column)

Article excerpt

IT'S AMAZING HOW HARD Companies work to keep customers away from human interaction. An entire industry has evolved around helping banks become more customer-focused, but too often the focus is on data, analysis, and self-service when people are, and always will be, the primary way to provide a good customer experience. The data, analysis, and automated devices arc valuable to be sure, but the whole subject has grown far too complex for what should be fairly intuitive.

Part of the reason lies in the "channelization" of banking, and the great difficulty in coordinating the various channels; part is a result of an overzealous pursuit of efficiency which too often simply means fewer employees; and part is an obsession over finding a technology solution that will make it all work-which will never happen.

A relevant item in Briefing (p. 8) offers ten answers to the question, "What delights customers?" The answers, based on a survey, collectively point out the obvious: that banking is not about money, it's about service... service related to financial matters. Money is a commodity. Good service never is.

Three of the most interesting responses given by customers were.

* A single interaction with a very friendly staff member;

* Service beyond expectations;

* Told about a new opportunity, often a new product better suited to the customer's situation.

Either of the first two can instantly overcome dumb policies, or even the mistakes of other employees.

The third point is interesting because (as the researchers note) it shows that "sales" and "service" can commingle comfortably-and profitably. As customers, don't we all appreciate an employee who goes beyond "cookie cutter," and makes a useful suggestion? …

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