Yesterday, when doing some much needed filing, I realised I only like one of the services my current bank provides for me: the pre-punched holes in my bank statements. Other than that, Lloyds TSB have been appalling bad with their service.
This is not an uncommon story with high street banks such as Lloyds. A 2008 study into UK consumer satisfaction with banks found that credit unions and co-operatives scored better with consumers than did the large retail banks (JD Power, 2008). Perhaps this is because personal customer service seems to be a key selling point of the smaller organisations. What Lloyds, and all of the other high street banks need to realise is that good customer service is the key to their business, especially if we are to believe that more people will tell of a bad experience than they will of a good one (Howcroft, 1991)*.
Anita Chakrabarty from the University of Nottingham has written a paper outlining factors which influence customer satisfaction with banking services. You can read it here. In the paper, Chakrabarty lists five salient points for banking service design gathered from other papers:
- Service quality is one of the effective means in building a competitive position in the service industry. (Lewis, 1993)
- Investments in service quality, customer satisfaction and customer relationships leads to profitability and market share (Rust and Zahorik, 1993)
- High quality service and customer satisfaction often results in more repeat purchases and market share improvements (Buzzel and Gale, 1997)
- Customer satisfaction leads to customer loyalty and this leads to profitability ( Hallowell, 1996)
- The costs of customer acquisition are much higher than the costs of retention (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990).
One interesting service I have just come across is the Bank of You from the Union Bank and Trust Company in the US. The experience from the outset is very human-centered. You begin your registration by giving the bank your name:
The widget then takes the customer through the process of finding the right account structure for them by way of some very simply worded questions:
After about 5 or 6 screens, the customer is presented with a summary sheet which contains product suggestions, brand and ATM locations, and the opportunity to speak with an online banker about your account. At this stage, all the personal data that’s been asked of you is your name and the addresses of a few key locations in your life (home, office, local shops) to ascertain where the best local branches are for you.
The design of the site is simple and follows some basic UX and information design principles. For example, the customer always knows where they are in the process by way of breadcrumbing and the subtle use of ‘hinting’, where the previous and next screens are shown at the edges of the screen. The restricted colour palette allows for the customer’s eye to be directed to important instructional text with ease: the dark blue and the red stand out.
Whether this simple and elegant design for the online service translates to their face-to-face customer experience I cannot say, but compared to the online sites of high street banks such as Lloyds, you can really see that the Bank of You considers the customer experience to be of primary importance. They do not overload the customer with sales notices. They give the customer the information that is required as it is needed, and nothing more. The simplify the process without making the customer feel inadequate. A job well done.
* Howcroft, J.B. (1991) Customer Satisfaction in Retail Banking. In The Service Industries Journal, Volume 11, Issue 1. pp 11-17.