CSP Happenings





Topic: Voice of the Customer

3 Tips for a Positive Workplace & Positive Customer Relationships

April 26, 2017

While you’re hard at work trying to maintain lifelong customer relationships, it can be easy to overlook the relationships among your staff. It seems obvious that a friendly work environment leads to greater productivity, decreased stress, less turnover and increased satisfaction—and in fact, research shows that this assumption is true. Happier employees lead to a more positive customer experience, as well.

A positive workplace starts with a strong manager. Start by surveying your employees to gauge their satisfaction. What do they really think about their job? Then try to build in the tips found below.

Boundaries

Clearly communicating your ideas and expectations at the beginning of a project save you from a conflict later in the process.

  • Try replacing open-ended questions like, “Do you want to start or shall I?” with “I’d like to start with x and then get your opinion.”
  • Create a space or time wherein employees can feel free to express their ideas and concerns safely. If confidentiality is important, consider using a comment box and then reading entries anonymously at meetings.

Customers benefit from companies that enforce clear boundaries, because they know what to expect.  Consistent results from a well-communicated plan of action go a long way to build relationships with your customers, too.

Gratitude

Everyone likes to know that they’re valued and appreciated.  Cultivating an atmosphere of gratitude can encourage employees and help them understand their integral role in the office.

  • Begin conversations by recognizing something positive your employee has done recently. They’ll likely be more receptive to suggestions or critique if they know you’re aware of their successes too.
  • Make sure your praise is specific and/or spontaneous. Let your employees know you’re paying attention to their work.

Have you ever walked into a bank and the teller was clearly miserable?  Your customers associate the positive and negative emotions they experience with the brand itself.  By ensuring your employees have a smile on their face, your customers will be smiling too.

 

Fun

Dale Carnegie, a famous thought leader in corporate thinking, said “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

American culture often does not include “fun” as a regular component of the work day.  Work shouldn’t be fun, right?  In fact, incorporating fun into the workplace used to be more common with company picnics, birthday parties, and friendly office wagers.

  • You can maintain a professional atmosphere while still having fun. The key is to designate a time and a place.  Scheduling a regular happy hour can give employees something to look forward to after a long day at the office.
  • Assign “birthday cake duty” to one of your employees to make sure birthdays are recognized and everyone can take a sugary break in the afternoon for a slice.

Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re a burden to your employees.  Let people know that you’re working hard and playing hard on their behalf.  This gesture also goes a long way in humanizing your brand and service, further cementing lifelong, loyal relationships with customers.

If you’re interested in reading a little more on this topic, check out our articles on how to boost employee morale:

https://www.csp.com/encouraging-cross-departmental-collaboration/#.WP9ysYgrJPY

https://www.csp.com/10-examples-of-employee-engagement-in-action/#.WP91oIgrJPY

4 Questions to Ask When Appealing to Millennial Customers

April 10, 2017

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials are taking over the world—literally. As of April 2016, Millennials have edged out Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. That means Millennials are a driving force behind modern evolutions in customer experience.

The largest, most diverse, most educated generation of Americans to date have incredible spending power. Their familiarity with and reliance on technology defines the Millennial experience and means major changes for businesses and brands looking to court their loyalty.

So how can you become a favorite among Millennial customers?

Millennials still want reliability, friendliness, responsiveness, and quality – they just want even more of it than previous generations were satisfied to have.

No generation before has seen such a rapid progression and diversification of technology. While older Millennials still remember the dial-up days, the younger set are coming of age in a time of ubiquitous and instant availability of favorite resources and channels. Millennials see technology as a lifestyle, not a toolbox.  

If you’re looking to strengthen your appeal to Millennials, your business should embrace a similar mindset. Your business already uses technology to communicate quickly and efficiently. The next step is to embrace the wide variety of apps, devices, and networks that make your brand easy to access and share. The following questions are a good way to gauge if your business is ready to attract Millennial consumers.

IS IT FAST?

Millennials know what they want, and they want it now. Influenced by their always-available, multi-tasking, multi-device lifestyles, their attention span is rather short. Millennials have little patience for clumsy user interfaces or apps that struggle to load. They don’t want to wait for answers! They make decisions quickly and will gravitate to businesses that help them accelerate their progress.

IS IT SOCIAL?

Millennials are always connected to the Internet and therefore, always connected to each other. Businesses quickly realized that the key to engaging Millennial markets is to connect via social media.

Millennials begrudgingly accept the presence of brands and businesses in their social networks, but they expect businesses to behave socially. Personal interactions with businesses make them feel heard and valued.

Rather than picking up a phone, Millennials favor direct Tweets, Yelp reviews, and Facebook posts to describe their experience with a business. An active social media presence demonstrates your business’ willingness to personally connect with customers and keeps your brand fresh in someone’s news feed. 

IS IT MEANINGFUL?

Millennials maintain a heightened awareness of social issues and causes. They’re not interested in money for the sake of money—they want their dollar to mean something when they spend it. Consequently, businesses that include an element of social justice in their work are more likely to successfully engage Millennials.

IS IT AUTONOMOUS?

Millennials are self-starters. They want to feel empowered by their business interactions. Many customer experience disruptions come from Millennials as they initiated their own startups to fill niches not served by the existing market. They’re not content to say: “This is the way things have always been done.” 

This generation saw the birth of “crowdsourcing and online reviews as a significant influencer on purchasing decisions. Conversely, Millennials also value the availability of self-service options, especially those that get them to their destination faster by cutting out the middleman. They’re not opposed to picking up the phone or having a face-to-face customer service interaction, but it’s usually not their first choice. In fact, they may snub a business that doesn’t give them enough opportunity to help themselves.  

Brands Millennials Love

Venmo and other P2P (person to person) payment apps are a recent example of the way Millennials prefer to handle their finances. Venmo provides a slick, no-hassle interface, connects users directly to social networks, and is completely autonomous. Venmo has also partnered with GiveDirectly to make it easier than ever for users to donate to their favorite charity. 

TOMS Shoes is another good example of a brand that successfully engages Millennial markets. Their “One for One” campaign elevated an ordinary purchase of new shoes to an act of goodwill. TOMS also has a strong social media presence. They encourage customers to share stories and make them feel like they’re a part of the TOMS mission to improve the lives of others. 

 

These new insights into Millennial habits in combination with your own Voice of the Customer research will create a customer experience tailored to Millennial demands. In Part Two of this series, we review the areas of the experience to prioritize and provide examples of specific actions to take and offerings to consider when engaging this desirable demographic.

Customer Loyalty: 9 Ways to Influence Emotions, Reasoning, and Behavior

July 19, 2016

Customer loyalty is a hot topic, but what exactly is a loyal customer? The first thing that might come to mind is “a customer who keeps doing business with you.” That sounds reasonable; however, it’s also incomplete.

It’s likely that some repeat customers come back only because they are under a binding contract, intimidated by the process of changing providers, or sticking with you from sheer force of habit. In each case, it wouldn’t take much for a competitor to lure them away. That is why customer loyalty, real loyalty, is such a critical factor in your company’s success.

A more comprehensive definition of a loyal customer is one who believes in the value of what you have to offer; who has evaluated you as the best available option; and who continues to choose your service or product over the competition and encourages others to do the same.

A more complete definition of customer loyalty

A more complete definition of customer loyalty

Within this definition are three distinct aspects of customer loyalty. Let’s take a closer look at them and what you can do to influence each type.

Emotional loyalty

The emotional aspect is crucial in the relationship between customer and company, and a powerful driver of the other two types of loyalty. Customers not only want to feel like they can trust your company; ideally, they also like your company. Other important emotional values include friendliness, attitude, and “cool factor.” A value proposition that is associated with these sentiments will be much more likely to invoke loyalty.

Emotional loyalty is especially important in fields where big financial interests and sensitive data meet personal experiences, like the banking industry. Events like the financial crisis, market instability, and bank account hacks can damage customer loyalty, and (re)building trust is key. To maximize emotional loyalty:

  • Be transparent in your communication with customers.
  • Make customer service a top priority throughout the organization.
  • Show customizers that you care through your marketing and advertising messages.
Rational loyalty

This aspect of customer loyalty reflects the logical, unemotional side of the customer’s purchase decision. In other words: do your customers think they are getting the best deal? To maximize rational loyalty:

  • Reward repeat customers.
  • During the sale, clearly outline the tangible benefits you can offer.
  • Offer attractive extras, like credit cards that earn points, flyer miles or cash-back rewards.
Transactional/behavioral loyalty

Finally, transactional or behavioral loyalty can be seen as momentum. Once a customer starts buying from a particular business or becomes attached to a brand, as long as emotional and rational loyalty are each well-nurtured, transactional loyalty follows and becomes habitual. Because this type of loyalty is so heavily reliant on the other two, it can be derailed if a customer becomes dissatisfied emotionally or rationally.

To optimize the shopping process itself:

  • Make sure all service channels, including websites and apps, are easy to use and up to date.
  • Various service channels should be connected; customers should be able to shop however, whenever and wherever.
  • Offer extras that make shopping fun, like gamification elements or apps that reward customer engagement.

 

Building customer loyalty can seem like a complicated process. Understanding it, however, starts with a simple step: knowing your customer. Voice of the Customer data is where you’ll discover the key components that drive your customers’ loyalty – and what might be driving them away. Equipped with that knowledge, you can make specific changes within your organization to influence those key drivers in the desired direction. You’ll also want to use periodic benchmarking to evaluate how you are performing against those measurements compared to your competitors.

For more information about Voice of the Customer and Competitive Benchmarking solutions from CSP, contact us online or call 800.841.7954 ext. 101.

Position Your CEO as a Customer Experience Champion

May 30, 2015

At many businesses, the only time a customer sees or hears from the CEO might be a statement issued to the press, a column in the quarterly newsletter, or in the worst cases, a public scandal for which the company leadership is held accountable.

Otherwise, CEOs, at least from the customer’s perspective, are mythical creatures that operate behind closed doors, where they make the Big Decisions that directly affect their customers.

Customer experience and service have been growing priorities for businesses across many industries in the last decade. Technology – specifically, customer data, social media, and the move towards mobile – has dramatically changed the way businesses and customers interact. This gave rise to the “omnichannel” point-of-view, and that’s the level where most CEOs (and other C-level executives) operate: overseers, analysts, evaluators, strategizers.

But what about champions?

champion of the customerSure, CEOs have a lot to say about the organizational effects and benefits of customer experience management.

  • 97% of executives surveyed in a global study by Oracle say that delivering great customer experiences is essential to their success.
  • In the same study, 81% of executives surveyed say they realize the importance of active social-media processes and culture, although only 65% had actually gone as far as implementing social service and sales.
  • 52% of retail senior executives surveyed by Timetrade stated that the best way to combat showrooming (visiting a store to view an item, but purchasing it later online) is by improving the in-store customer experience.
  • In a 2013 Deloitte survey, 62% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator.

But awareness is not advocacy. Simply knowing where the problems and opportunities are, and what could and should be done to improve the experience, does not a champion make.

CEOs must actively argue for, defend, and clear the path for improvements to the customer experience. In the words of Oracle CEO Mark V. Hurd, they must become “customer experience evangelists.”

This means taking internal actions to prioritize the customer experience, such as allocating enough of the budget to invest in voice of the customer strategies, and rallying employees, from the C-Suite down to the individual customer service representatives, around the cause. It also means maintaining a visible public-facing position of customer advocacy – and not just when crisis strikes.

4 CEOs Who Act As Champions

 Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
So great is Bezos’ customer championship that you practically can’t talk about customer service or experience without his name coming up. As Amazon grew into the retail giant it is today, so did its influence on customer experience across the entire retail landscape, with Bezos himself on the vanguard. He keeps his email address publicly known and available, and is known for not just reading but forwarding customer complaint emails directly to the members of his team responsible for making a fix (which he expects to happen fast).
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Photo by Valery Marchive

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Apple wouldn’t be what it is today without its excruciating attention to detail and quality, and Cook has carried that through to his personal involvement in customer service. A perfect example: after a customer e-mailed Cook complaining about the quality of Apple’s music on hold, within 24 hours she got a call from an Apple employee saying Cook had forwarded the email to her and reassuring the customer that the matter would be dealt with. “”I get hundreds, and some days thousands of emails from customers,” Cook has said in prior interviews. “This is a privilege, because they talk to you as if you’re sitting at their kitchen table.”
 John Legere CEO of T-Mobile John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile
By eliminating contract plans and lifting many of the other customer-unfriendly policies common across wireless carriers (like complicated data fee structures and keeping phones ‘locked’ and un-transferrable), Legere made the statement in 2013 that his company was looking out for the customers’ best interests, instead of just protecting tech companies’ grip on the industry. In designing the plans, Legere said he listened to T-Mobile customer service calls every night and had customer complaint emails forwarded to him, as well as making his email address public. “We are going to change the rules,” Legere said. “Not for us … this is about what consumers want and need.”
 Sir Richard Branson Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin
OK, so he’s not a CEO anymore, but Branson might still be one of the world’s most accessible billionaires. Despite his fantastically high profile and net worth, he shakes the unfavorable image of the 1% by remaining in close contact with customers (not just of Virgin, but everywhere). He commands a massive social media following – 2 million on Facebook, 5.6 million on Twitter, nearly 8 million on LinkedIn – and is a regular blogger who frequently advocates for the quality of customer service and relations, and is generous with advice.

 

You might also be interested in these previous posts:

Get Your Decision-Makers to Listen to the Voice of the Customer

May 12, 2015

A satisfying customer experience is organizational, not just transactional. The most direct way to affect your customer experience is to start with your own staff. Everyone must be on board, especially managers and executives.

It’s critical that the top decision-makers at your business believe in the customer experience and stay tuned in to the voice of the customer, even if they never interact directly. Without this investment of attitude and effort, they risk developing blind spots or working off of assumptions that are not aligned with the customer’s reality.

Reasons to Believe in Customer Experience Management

executives

If there is reluctance or uncertainty among senior staff about the value of being involved with the customer experience, they might just need a nudge in the right direction.

Objection: I’ve been in this business for (x) years. I know my customer.
Reality: Your customer today is almost certainly not the same one you were serving (x) years ago. Customer expectations of their experience have changed rapidly in the last several years, and customers are forever looking towards the future. What satisfied them yesterday is old news today and will have them yawning tomorrow. Meanwhile, agile, innovative start-ups and tech-savvy companies have changed the face of customer service and set the bar higher for the rest of the marketplace, not just their own competitors. So you may think you know your customer, but would your customer agree?
Objection: There’s just too much data to make sense of.
Reality: That’s precisely why it’s important to make sense of it. With the explosion of data in the digital age, there is so much to learn about customers to enhance what we already know. As more organizations adopt an omnichannel approach to customer service and marketing, it’s essential to dive into the data and see how all of the parts are functioning. Only this 360-degree view can tell you how well your business is performing as a whole.
Objection: Should we really be budgeting for this?
Reality: What is more costly to a business in the long run – a system for measuring customer satisfaction, or dissatisfied customers? If you’re investing in customer service at all, it’s better to work from a foundation of current and thorough information about the key drivers of satisfaction among your customers, than to go by your assumptions of which areas are performing well and which ones need more attention.
Objection: There’s plenty of market research already out there we can use.
Reality: You can take your chances by basing your decisions off of large, sweeping studies and reports, drawn from a sample size that might not even include any of your own customers. Or you can ask them directly and know that the information you’re getting is immediately relevant to your business and your market. While the large-scale market research is helpful for noting trends and patterns, no one can speak for your customers as well as they can themselves.
Objection: I’m an executive, why does this involve me at all?
Reality: When the customer experience is hurting, other parts of the business – including some of the parts the C-Suite cares about, like sales and workplace performance – will suffer, too. Even if your role never has you interacting with customers directly, you still have an indirect effect on their experience by modeling the right attitude to your team. If those working on the front lines don’t feel like their higher-ups value the customer, they’re not likely to go the extra mile themselves.

Consider, too, that in today’s social media age, businesses aren’t as opaque to the customer as they once were. Customers who have any reason to be upset are not shy about publicly calling out Owners, Presidents, Board Members and CEOs. When there’s a communication breakdown or a scandal between a business and its customers, the public looks to the leaders for explanations and accountability. They can tell the difference between canned PR apologies and genuine concern – which can only come from genuine engagement.

The Takeaway

Superior customer service starts from within and moves outwards, but it can only do so if the internal influencers within your organization are giving it the proper momentum. Managers and executives might sign the paychecks, but the customer is really the boss.

Report: Techy Competitors Turning Bank Customers’ Heads

April 29, 2015

Capgemini has released the 2015 World Retail Banking Report and their Customer Experience Index, calculated from the results of a comprehensive Voice of the Customer survey of more than 16,000 respondents in 32 countries.

The CEI has dropped only slightly from 72.9 in 2014 to 72.7 in 2015, indicating that customer satisfaction is stagnating as banks try to keep up with modern consumer demands and innovative competitors in the digital space.

More highlights from the report:

  • smartphoneGen Y customers registered lower customer experience levels than other age groups.
  • North America continued to have the highest level of overall positive experience compared to other countries, but still saw a dip in positive experiences compared to last year.
  • Customers around the world reported increased likelihood to leave their bank within the next six months. Gen Y in particular has a tendency to move banks, and are more open to internet-based providers or simple financial products offered by retailers.
  • Banks and customers don’t agree on the role of the branch. Banks would prefer that customers purchase simple products online, and visit a branch for help with more complex solutions. Customers continue to use banks for simple transactions and don’t trust that the online options will be as helpful to them as a live person.
  • The rise of FinTech firms means customers can complete their entire banking lifecycle without ever approaching a bank.

You can read the full report here.

Customers are clearly not thrilled with the status quo. They want their banks to keep in step with the other digitally savvy experience they’re having elsewhere in the consumer marketplace, from retail to healthcare to entertainment. The newest young adults have grown up with the convenience of instant, constant connectivity, and highly customizable products and solutions.

“Status quo” is what you get when you assume you already know your customers. The global numbers won’t tell you what intelligence you’ll gain from your own Voice of the Customer research. Every bank serves different customers and it’s their needs and expectations you need to be listening to, measuring, evaluating, and integrating into your customer experience.

If you’re concerned about your status quo or want to know what you can do to change it, contact Customer Service Profiles today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

More Than Just a Program, Voice of the Customer is a Promise

February 4, 2015

Instating a Voice of the Customer program to capture customer experience insights has many practical benefits:

  • It takes something vague and subjective, like customer experience, and turns it into quantifiable metrics.
  • It clearly identifies the key drivers of customer satisfaction that are unique to each business and each customer base.
  • It shows trends, progress, and declines over time, allowing you to adapt to changes as you go, and see warning signs ahead of time if something is awry.
  • It plays an informative role in employee training, performance review, and shaping a company’s internal culture.

And that’s just naming a few.

But while all of those reasons are worthwhile, to the customer, they’re just corporate jargon that has little to do with the reality of their lives and their relationships with your business.

Looking at the notion of customer experience from their perspective, Voice of the Customer isn’t a toolbox, it’s a promise.

voice of the customer is a promise

By actively listening to customers, you promise to value their opinions just as much as those of the shareholders or owners who are profiting from their business.

rio bank newsletter voice of the customerThis newsletter produced by Rio Bank for its customers puts that promise front and center by telling customers what steps this Texas institution is taking to look out for their interests, and transparently discloses exactly what goals will be satisfied through Voice of the Customer measurements and initiatives.

Customer loyalty starts with accountability to your promises. Accountability starts with a Voice of the Customer program.

A guarantee to put customers front and center in business decisions can inspire confidence, especially if they see enough direct action to prove they’re not just empty words. It also gives them an invitation to raise their own voices and participate, knowing those voices won’t fall on deaf ears.

While it’s still true that the squeaky wheel tends to get the grease, for any vehicle to move forward, all of the wheels must get enough attention and care to roll along smoothly.

Voice of the Customer keeps the customer-facing side of any business running like a well-oiled machine, lubricating relationships between employees and customers, customers and products, managers and staff.

Are you delivering on your promises? CSP is passionate about improving the customer experience, and can show you how you measure up against your customers’ expectations. Contact us today to find out more.

How Voice of the Customer Insights Can Improve Employee Training

December 22, 2014

The frontlines of customer service and sales are where the most direct and personal customer experiences happen. It’s also an area where customers tend to be more vocal about their satisfaction, or lack thereof. A good experience can make someone’s day, and a bad one can ruin it – and humans are just predisposed to complain more than compliment.

Positive and negative customer experiences also influence retention and attrition; a good experience can keep a customer coming back for years, but one bad interaction and they might write you off forever.

And in the days of social media, one customer’s bad experience can easily spread to others and affect public perception of your brand.

Training ClassroomWith all of this at stake, no business can afford to deprioritize employee training and coaching. Training builds bridges between customers and customer-facing employees.

Creating, maintaining, and delivering an effective training program is no simple feat, but your customers will thank you for the effort.

One size never fits all.

As convenient as it would be, a one-size-fits-all approach to training is likely to miss the mark in more ways than one.

Every customer base is different, as is every workforce. Employee training initiatives must take into account not only the unique customers’ expectations, but the internal culture of the company. The better aligned these two conditions are, the better experience customers are likely to get, and the more productive employees can be.

Education is always evolving.

Customer expectations change with time, influenced not only by their relationship with your business, but trends and innovations in the marketplace as a whole. What was satisfactory last year may be insufficient today.

Static, standardized training is not sustainable. Regular evaluations of your materials, curriculum, and methods will keep your program responsive and current.

Mind the gaps.

So how do you optimize your employee training? Listen to the voice of the customer. VOC research and insights highlight gaps in employee performance and customer sentiment. This creates the opportunity to customize your training initiatives to focus on the attributes picked up within the research.

Knowledge is power – as long as you act on it. Measurements alone don’t do anything for anyone. At the end of the day, a customized, optimized, VOC-informed training program creates the opportunities for conversations that lead to loyalty and sales.

 

Customized training solutions based on VOC insights are part of the package of services CSP provides our clients. To find out more, visit our Coaching & Training page, or contact us directly with your questions.

Beware the Ripple Effect of a Single Bad Customer Experience

July 21, 2014

This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.

It’s a familiar sentence to anyone who has had to call a customer service line for support. But one Comcast customer recently turned the tables on the cable provider, and recorded a maddening conversation with a customer service representative that quickly went viral.

Ryan Block’s objective was to cancel and disconnect his service with Comcast. According to him, after his wife had already spent ten minutes on the phone going around in circles with the representative, he took over and began recording the call himself. He then uploaded the recording to the audio streaming site SoundCloud, where it gathered enough momentum to catch media attention.

You can listen to the call yourself here.

In these eight minutes, Mr. Block puts forth his request to cancel in a variety of creative, straightforward and polite ways, only to be blocked or derailed by the increasingly agitated rep at every turn.

Obviously, part of the rep’s responsibility to Comcast is to limit cancellations and retain customers, and he may have been incentivized with compensation for doing so. But his aggressive manner and obstructive methods indicate a corporate culture in which the voice of the customer falls on deaf ears.

On their own behalf, Comcast issued a statement saying, “We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block […] While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

But as the story gathered steam, it also gathered comments from thousands of other Comcast customers (and former customers) as well as customers of other cable giants like Time Warner, with whom Comcast is set to merge, pending FCC approval.

Many shared their own horror stories of similar experiences with service reps, while others lamented that due to lack of consumer choice among cable providers, Comcast and its peers have little incentive to improve the customer experience, in spite of any promise to emphasize respect.

If there’s a lesson in this for other businesses, it’s that the voice of just one customer can have enormous reach when amplified by the megaphone of the internet. No business is immune to that threat, but the damage is completely preventable when the company culture is aligned with the objective of providing an excellent customer experience, down to the last representative.

As banking paradigms shift, voice of the customer insights are critical

June 23, 2014

A significant shift is underway in how banks across the country are relating to and responding to their customers’ needs and expectations.

Spurred on by emerging technologies that put more control in customers’ hands – most notably, mobile banking – and a decrease in branch foot traffic in the last decade, some banks have begun experimenting with new customer service models to reshape the customer experience.

The June edition of American Banker magazine highlighted some of the initiatives being tested in select branches and markets, such as PNC’s “universal bankers,” employees who can handle tasks from a simple cash withdrawal to account and small business services. Read the full centerpiece article here.

The Battle for Branch Relevancy
It’s a trend that’s already disrupting other industries and has bled over to banking: Automated and self-service options have made today’s customer less reliant on branches and tellers, prompting speculation about the future of brick-and-mortar locations.

Yet, as the article points out, people are not yet ready to abandon personal interaction with their institutions, preferring to at least have the option of a human face or voice, even if their first stop is an app or ATM.

The shared goal behind these new models of customer service is seamlessness.

Branches may become extensions of a bank’s digital presence, and vice versa. Customers may still prefer to handle certain interactions in person, but they expect the person they’re dealing with to be more knowledgeable and flexible about transactions, products and services, and less roped off from one another (literally).

Temperature-Testing
It’s still early to tell whether and how quickly this integrated, flexible approach to banking service and sales will catch on – that growth will largely depend on how the concept is rolled out to market and how much change customers are willing to navigate at once.

To stay nimble, banks will need to make sure the voice of the customer does not get lost among the shuffle of new ideas and experiments. CSP will be watching, and more importantly, listening with great interest as customers encounter and evaluate the next generation of experiences crafted to exceed their expectations.