Efficiency versus Sensitivity

By Matthew Daniel

There are dozens of reasons why customers contact their bank, some of which need to be handled quickly, others need to be given more care and attention. For banks and other service providers, it’s sometimes a balance of efficiency versus sensitivity.

Using our ‘Moments of Truth’ benchmarking study, we found that Net Promoter Score (NPS) based on a recent interaction with a bank improves where self-service is offered to customers and used. This is the case for every bank offering self-service options, like product applications or resolution pathways via an app or online.

There are benefits to customers and banks themselves. Convenience is created for customers as they have another option to carry out their transaction.  For banks, the unit cost per branch or telephone servicing transaction is reduced and staff are released to spend more time explaining other services and profit-generating products.

Yet it’s not always about getting matters resolved quickly for customers. Some transactions simply need a real person to offer advice or lend a sympathetic ear. These experiences are often more sensitive, like making a complaint or notifying the bank of fraudulent transactions. But even more mundane events, like a lost or stolen card, benefit from a social interaction.

In addition to the benchmarking programme, a number of our financial clients have asked us to explore these experiences with their customers. They are sensitive areas that require significant care and caution, helping clients learn more about the experience they offer to customers and how they can improve it. But it is rewarding to see how small improvements can make a large difference.

Despite the sensitivity and nature of experiencing fraud, all banks and assessed in our ‘Moments of Truth’ NPS programme delivered a positive overall NPS outcome ranging from +20 to +2.

Many customers haven’t been in this situation before and therefore are looking to speak to someone who can guide them through the process, showing sympathy and empathy throughout. This critical factor is citied by most customers as key to their promotion or detraction on the financial provider. So it’s not always about the efficiency of the transaction, but it does still play a role. Those people who felt that the process took much longer than they expected on some service issues gave an average NPS as low as -72, showing that getting it wrong can have a large detrimental impact.

The positive impact of speed and efficiency in service provision is a key driver across a range of bank services, including reporting a lost or stolen card, making a change to an existing product and applying for a credit card for example. But when we examine open ended responses we also see the more highly satisfied customers are also saying words like professional, friendly, helpful, courteous, understanding and empathy. Furthermore, highly dissatisfied customers cite customer service interactions (rude and unhelpful) as a stronger driver of their ‘detractor’ status than the speed or efficiency of the process.

This indicates that speed and efficiency certainly a desired factor in bank interactions, but delight with the service is generated when efficiency is combined with sympathy.

Efficiency vs. sensitivity – it’s a balancing act but in each case, when transactions and experiences are deployed correctly, banks can deliver an enhanced experience for customers.

BDRC Australia’s Moments of Truth programme runs on a bi-annual basis and assesses customer advocacy of financial providers as a result of one of 18 customer experiences, including those detailed above. We also run a similar programme for private health insurers. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with my colleague Richard Stevenson.

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