Improving the Banking Customer Relationship: One Simple, Non-Technical Solution

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7 May 2017
Daniel Latimore

We’ve seen that banks are focusing intensely on the customer experience, and very often they’re using technology to try to make that happen, whether it’s through predictive analytics, bots, or new branches. There’s another tack to take that can complement these laudable efforts: just be more human – and mean it!

I travel a lot, and so have been reading recent stories of airline customer service disasters with a mixture of horror and disgust. Yet some airlines manage to rise above this. Here’s a quick test: which airline offers this: a 2x4x2 business class seating configuration between the US and Europe? And then wouldn’t let a passenger switch to an empty seat in the same class? Is it Southwest or United?

Here’s the other one: which airline turned a plane around on the tarmac when a passenger’s husband called because their son had suffered a grievous injury? And then rebooked her to the city where he was in intensive care, for free? Southwest or United?

The answers are, of course, United and Southwest, respectively. So here’s my point: what would it take for your bank to have a reputation for customer service like Southwest’s?

Here’s one simple suggestion that has nothing to do with technology; it has to do with homes, the biggest assets of most families, and something invested with a tremendous amount of emotion. In the course of home ownership I’ve received a really nice bottle of wine from a contractor (perhaps an indication that he was overpriced, or maybe a referral inducement, or maybe that’s just the way he does business). We got flowers from our realtor. But never once has any of the banks I’ve financed or refinanced with acknowledged me with anything remotely personal. How hard would it be to send along a fruit basket, or a guide to the neighborhood, or even a decent bottle of wine? If my contractor can do it for a job worth a few tens of thousands of dollars, why can’t my bank do it for hundreds of thousands? Just a thought.

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