Why a Nice Front Line Is Not Enough

Friendliness is not good service

Community financial institutions have a great reputation for providing friendly service. You hang your hat on treating your account holders as part of your family. And while that’s nice to do, it’s not enough. Consumers have had enough interactions with businesses to know that they want a great overall experience. They want to do business with friendly people who are experts, and they also want a quality product.

 

The best of the best institutions have been successful at striking a balance between friendliness, great customer service, and sales. This is paramount to attracting and retaining account holders and growing your share of wallet. Today’s customers are not tolerant of order taking. In fact, they associate order taking with poor service.

nice service isn't enough

Let’s consider your own experiences. Have you ever done business with a company where the employees were extremely nice, but still weren’t able to offer what you wanted and you left dissatisfied? You might remember thinking, “they’re so nice,” “they try so hard,” or “they mean well.” Maybe you even returned to give them another chance. But eventually, if they don’t get the job done, you take your business to someone who can.

 

Develop Service Standards

 

To start setting your institution apart with great customer service, come up with some service standards that are required of your team when interacting with people — both in person and on the phone. Three simple ones are:

 

1. “We warm-transfer.”

The team member who answers the phone solves the problem. If you absolutely have to transfer, get the caller’s name and the reason for their call. Relay this information to the staff member you are transferring the call to. When the next representative takes the call, they can pick up where you left off; for example, "Hi, Mr. Jones. I understand that you had some difficulty with our ATM today. How can I help?"

 

2. “We walk consumers to what they need.”

If someone asks you where something is, don’t point. Walk them over to what they are looking for. If you can’t leave your desk, call a colleague over to assist the consumer and walk them to what they need.

 

3. “We always ask three non-banking questions.”

During every interaction with an account holder or potential account holder, we ask three questions about them or their life that have nothing to do with banking. This builds a better relationship and hopefully gives your front line the information they need to recommend products that will provide value to that account holder.

 

To come up with a few service standards of your own, try “mystery shopping” your competitors or other local businesses. What did they do that you liked? Anything you didn’t like? What made you feel important and valued?

Determine what components you want to include in your level of customer service? Define how you will offer the total package — from the quality of your product to the attitudes and abilities of your staff. Start to implement those service standards and hold your team accountable when it comes to maintaining them. Then you’ll be on your way to happy and loyal account holders.

Melissa Thinger