What Australia's embattled banks can learn from a chocolate bar...
“Bank the way you want.”
“Our focus is on improving customer experience and building trust.”
When you surf the websites of Australia’s largest financial institutions the picture is of an industry obsessed with putting customers first.
Take, for example, the investment specialists who list their top priority for 2018 as: “Continuing the customer-centred transformation of our business.”
Yes, the same institution that has seen its market capitalisation plummet amid a Royal Commission that has indirectly claimed its Chief Executive, Chair and a host of other scalps. Among the accusations levelled against it: that customers were charged for services that were never even delivered.
One might wonder: How could it come to this? How did companies who guard their reputation so zealously and invest significant resources in becoming more “customer centric” end up here?
While the negatives are understandably being focused on right now, the truth is the current situation presents tremendous opportunity. Because the recipe for a better, mutually beneficial relationship with customers is out there. For banks and for everybody else.
And it begins with just a little bit of chocolate.
How we got here
For more than three decades, Australia’s banks have been on an efficiency journey when it comes to interacting with customers. They have migrated from from face-to-face contact, to ATMs, phone-banking and then online banking. Human-centered design has been used along the way to help sharpen and inform that journey, focusing always at the level of the transaction.
A clearer form to fill in. A less frustrating call-centre experience. A more user-friendly website. These have been the focus. Success has been measured by “customer satisfaction scores”. And for some banks who are now in troubled waters these scores were consistently high.
There is nothing wrong with any of these goals but on their own they can never be enough. Australia’s financial institutions can take an important step forward if they begin to shift their thinking from the level of the transaction to concentrate on the whole customer and their long-term interests.
Read the APRA report into dealings at the Commonwealth Bank and the schism is laid bare.
“Notwithstanding the customer focus enshrined in CBA’s Vision and Values, and its industry-leading customer satisfaction scores, the customer voice (in particular, customer complaints) did not always ring loudly in decision-making forums and product design,” the report finds.
The customer voice. More on that later.
Read APRA’s report and there’s a clear prescription. It argues for an immediate “injection into CBA’s DNA of the ‘should we’ question in relation to all dealings with and decisions on customers “