Magazine article American Banker

Push to Improve Service Widespread, Survey Finds

Magazine article American Banker

Push to Improve Service Widespread, Survey Finds

Article excerpt

Retail banks, which have long endured reputations as laggards in customer service, are planning big improvements in their quality management programs, according to a study released Thursday by Ernst & Young. The survey of 93 banks in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Germany found that financial institutions have ambitious plans over the next three years to accelerate training of customer service employees, to require mandatory attendance at meetings on quality issues, and to impose reward systems keyed partially to solving customer complaints.

The findings come only weeks after the Bank Marketing Association released a survey of 20,000 U.S. households that chronicled a general decline in customer satisfaction with U.S. banks.

The Competitive Edge

"There is a major movement in banking toward quality," said William D. Wilsted, a professor of strategic management at the University of Colorado, who was an adviser on the Ernst & Young study.

In the United States, he added, "banks are looking for anything that will help competitively."

The study, which was cosponsored by the America Quality Foundation, concluded that U.S. banks are backing their commitment to quality.

Currently, only 18% of the banks in the United States regularly train customer-service employees. But 72% are planning to provide such training within three years.

By contrast, foreign banks have shown much greater dedication to quality programs, which are defined as those that encourage adaptability, responsiveness, convenience, performance, and reliability in employees. …

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