Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Tale of Two Banks: It's in the Details

For various reasons, I conduct transactions at two banks every payday, and the service provided at each couldn't be more different.

At the first bank I can go up to a little table, pull out a deposit slip and a pen, and write up my business before taking it to a teller. The teller greets me with a smile and, if they know me, my name. They ask how I am doing and engage in small talk while they are looking up my records. There is eye contact and the attire is business casual--although during the baseball playoffs they wore Cardinal red. I feel welcomed and really enjoy doing business there. In my whole time doing business with that bank--at four different branches--I've only come across one unfriendly teller. That's not a bad track record for a bank. What's more, this bank has ATMs all over the place--the gas station, the grocery store, even in my company's building. They make it easy and enjoyable to bank with them--rare for a bank. Heck, even their slogan is very customer-orientated!

The second bank I go to has a huge and intimidating lobby. There is a table to write up deposit slips, but no deposit slips and no pens (and it's not just that branch--it's all of them). When I approach the teller (dressed in full business attire) I may get a curt smile, but not much more. It's rare to get eye contact at this bank and there is no small talk. I leave feeling tense and frankly, unappreciated.

So we have an example of two banks--delivering the exact same service but in different ways. In one bank I feel welcomed and appreciated. The other is cold and indifferent--and it's all in the details. What does the lack of deposit slips or pens tell someone about that bank's attitude toward its customers? It says that either "we don't want to spend the money on you" or "we think you're going to waste or steal our deposit slips and pens." Not a positive message.

But the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. While I'm no financial expert, I do know that the second bank has very few "buy" recommendations for shares, mostly "hold," and quite a few "sell" recommendations. The first bank has as many "hold" recommendations, but has--get this--EIGHT TIMES AS MANY "BUY" RECOMMEDNATIONS and only TWO SELL recommendations. Again, I'm no financial expert, but I know the people who issue those ratings are and, in their collective opinion, one bank is one the way up and the other is one the way down.

Think about your own details--what messages are you sending your customers? Are you on the way up or on the way down? If you think you're sending the wrong message, what can you do to change that message? If you don't know what message you're sending, why not ask your customers?

Tashi Delek!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Which Pooh Customer Service Rep Are You?

I got to talking to a friend of mine the other day about books that shaped our spiritual beliefs.  One for me was The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and its companion, The Te of Piglet.  While my copy of the Tao of Pooh is long gone, circling (hopefully) the hands of friends and friends-of-friends, I managed to dig up my old copy of The Te of Piglet.  Looking over the back cover, which characterized the major Pooh characters, I was struck by how they all represented one of the major customer service "archetypes."

For example, there is impulsive Tigger, always jumping off to his next adventure.

Sad and pessimistic Eeyore, never happy with anything.

The wise old owl, who over analyzes everything.

Rabbit, the rules stickler and know-it-all who likes to boss everyone around.

Then there is Pooh, loveable Pooh.  

And, of course, Christopher Robin and Piglet --brave and daring yet very unsure-of-himself Piglet.

Back Cover of Benjamin Hoff's "The Te of Piglet"

Am I right?  Sit around the break room of a call center and tell me I'm wrong.  Off the top of my head, I can think of several former colleagues who fit the description of one of these characters.

There are your Tiggers, who make judgements and decisions before gathering all the information.  They are the ones who know how to fix the problem before they know what it is, often jumping the gun and making matters worse.

Every call center has its Eeyore, i.e. the bellyacher.  The call stats aren't fair, the customers don't like him or her, the supervisor is on their butt too much.

I've met owls before -- on both ends of the phone.  The ones who insist on explaining how mail gets from point A to point B when all the customer wants to know is if the payment was posted.

All offices have the rabbits - the ones who think they're better than everyone else.  If only THEY were in charge, right?  They would know how to fix the call center's -- even the company's -- problems.

While Pooh himself might seem like an idea customer service rep let's face it, Pooh lacks a certain conviction in getting things done.  If you called Pooh about a problem, would you feel confident that it was getting fixed or that you were just getting a nice empathy statement?  I can see it now:

    CUSTOMER: I think you lost my payment.
    POOH: Oh bother.  Have you tried some honey for it?

You get the idea.

Piglet might make for a good customer service rep, but lacks the confidence needed to assure the customer.  These are the reps whose statements are peppered with comments like "maybes" and "shoulds."

That leaves Christopher Robin -- Easy to deal with, delightful to speak with, and willing to help.  In many ways, the ideal customer service rep.

So, which Pooh character are you?  Leave a comment below.  I get lonely sometimes.

Tashi Delek!