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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.

How Banks Can Evolve Alongside Their Customers

August 18, 2015

We’ve written at length on this blog about important changes in the evolving banking industry, including the rising popularity of universal bankers, online customer support, FinTech firms (especially among Millennials), and an omnichannel approach to improving performance across all points of contact with customers.

As the industry forges ahead, so must the banking customer experience. It begins with asking the right questions about the key components of the customer relationship lifecycle:

  • Acquiring Customers: Which products and services capture potential customer’s interests? Which marketing channels are the most productive for prospecting customers?
  • Maintaining Customers: How can you better manage customer expectations? How could you better fulfill promises to keep customers satisfied?
  • Maximizing Customers: What opportunities do you have to up-sell and cross-sell? How could you improve your referral and recommendation solicitation?
  • Customer Loyalty: How else could you increase your customers’ purchasing power? What customer loyalty programs might you consider offering?
  • Customer Retention: How can you keep your good customers and reduce “churn?”

It’s enough to make any bank manager feel a little lost in the dark, feeling around for a light switch that will illuminate a clear path through. Every bank will have different goals, different needs, and different customers motivated by different key drivers, so while the destination is the same, no two enterprises will walk the same path.

The Three Stages of the Journey to Improvement

The three stages of the journey to aligning with customers

It begins with Stage 1, Data Infrastructure – the collection and reporting of Voice of the Customer data from feedback tools like surveys and evaluations. This becomes the Customer Intelligence that is the backbone of every successful CEM strategy. With this foundation, banks can better anticipate their customers’ needs and be proactive in offering personalized solutions.

Stage 2 is Performance and Insight. Once the data is collected, it’s time to do a deep analysis of the performance of all metrics, down to each branch and each retail position.  In this step, we identify what’s changing in customer needs and expectations by sifting through data currently siloed in various channels and integrating it into a complete, 360-degree view of the customer experience.

Stage 3 is Holistic Strategy. Using the data and information from the previous two stages, the real work of improvement begins. This is the opportunity to perform an alignment check on the bank’s internal culture to see how closely it matches customer needs, wants, and expectations, and make necessary adjustments to establish and maintain the proper alignment.

There you have it: a clear path from Data to Information to Knowledge.

In our 25+ years of Customer Experience research, CSP has served as a “trail guide” to hundreds of banks walking their own paths to improved customer experience. We believe a bank’s value to its customers is defined through relationships. Employees, not smartphones or laptops, should remain at the center of those relationships.

Our experts are here to lead you through the three stages along the journey. More articles like this one can be found in our STARS library, available to current CSP clients as part of our full-service delivery. Contact us with any questions you may have.

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.

Superior Customer Service Requires More than Just ‘Checking the Boxes’

April 1, 2015

You’re doing all the right things. You have a Voice of the Customer program in place. You’re capturing, measuring, and evaluating both customer sentiment and employee performance. Your customer-facing staff is vetted and well trained. A superior customer experience is a priority at all levels of your organization.

But when the VOC results come in, there’s still a gap between performance and satisfaction. What’s going on here?

The missing piece of the puzzle could be authenticity.

A satisfying customer service experience hinges on the interaction between the customer and your business. First impressions happen every day and go a long way. So do the little things like using a customer’s name, making sure they are served promptly and efficiently, maintaining a pleasant attitude and tone, making eye contact, and saying Thank You.

These elements make up the basic checklist of Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts. But even if your staff is consistently checking every box on that list, customers can still feel unwelcome, challenged, or dissatisfied with their experience if they sense a lack of authenticity from a representative or from your business as a whole.

It takes more than checking the boxes to win a customer over.

checklist

 

Plainly stated, customers can tell when a business is just going through the motions.

They know, for instance, if the representative they’re speaking with on the phone is just reading from a script or repeating a routine they’ve already performed 100 times that day. The result? They feel unimportant and dehumanized. (This is one reason many customers dislike automated phone systems.)

customer service employee

Customers can tell when your employees are having a bad day.

They can tell when an employee is in a rush – to get home, to serve other customers, to hand them off to the next person in line. The result? They feel like an unwelcome nuisance.

They will pick up on all sorts of little cues like tone of voice, body language, and the level of surrounding stress. If any of those things strike them as being off, it doesn’t matter how many times they heard their name used or made eye contact – their experience has already been negatively impacted, and once that happens, it’s hard to erase.

The same applies for digital and text interactions, too. If you’ve ever written a letter to your Senator only to get a form letter in response, you know how frustrating the “copy/paste” effect can be.

Automation has its place. For example, no one expects every “Forgot password?” request to connect them to someone who can personally help them track it down or reset it.

But it’s still worth being aware that canned messages can convey a different message entirely than the one you want to send. We’re only half-listening to you. We can’t give you our full attention. You are not unique – we have plenty of other customers just like you, and you don’t deserve special treatment.

On the other side of that coin, you have everything to gain by going out of your way to make an authentic, personal connection to a customer – to remember not just their name but something personal about them, to make small talk while you pull their information up on your computer, to pay them a genuine compliment, ask them a question, or offer (if needed) a sincere apology.

Your standard customer service checklist serves as a Pass/Fail measurement of an experience, but authentic effort and personal gestures are the invisible final box that, once checked, pushes an experience from ‘good enough’ to ‘exceptional!’

So if you are seeing a gap between performance and satisfaction in your customer feedback, it may reflect that customers are expecting a little more from you than the bare minimum effort to keep their business. The good news is, this opens an opportunity for growth and innovation in how you meet customers’ needs and provide an outstanding experience.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us 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.

Great Expectations: Report Finds Banking Customers Demand More of Social, Mobile Channels

October 22, 2014

Banks around the globe have seen a significant decrease in customers’ reports of positive experiences in the last year, according to the 2014 World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini.

While customers continue to take advantage of multiple traditional and modern channels to meet their banking needs, social media and mobile platforms are gaining ground as customers seek quick and easy ways to access and manage their accounts whenever and wherever they are.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to other digital-dominant vendors like Google, Amazon and Apple, which continually develop and offer innovative solutions to make the user experience more seamless and convenient. So to the customer’s mind, why should their banks be any different?

Why shouldn’t they be able to send their friends money through Facebook? Why should professional financial advice require an appointment and branch visit? Why should ATM interfaces still look like they did in the 90s? Why shouldn’t a teller be able to deposit a check and show customers how to use the bank’s mobile app?

This attitude is especially common among Generation Y – so-called digital natives with a low tolerance for outmoded, clunky, or inconvenient services and products.

The report found that of all the age groups, Gen Y is considerably less likely to have positive experiences with their banks, indicating that their expectations are higher.

This could be a tipping point for banks as they seek to balance the needs of this new digitally dependent segment with those of long-held customers who place less importance on mobile and social.

The report also examined how positive experiences have a striking influence on profitable customer behaviors like loyalty and referrals, so it won’t suffice to simply find some kind of neutral middle ground. Banks must strive to generate more positive experiences to keep satisfaction high across the board and improve retention.

And indeed, some institutions around the world have begun implementing or experimenting with social-media-powered banking, like Facebook payments or customer service via social channels, and smartphone apps that aren’t just a mobile version of a website.

For example, Moven sells itself as a tool to help its customers keep an up-to-the-minute budget with instant notifications for every transaction, and automatic categorization and data on those transactions – without fees.

But for most institutions, two significant barriers remain:

  1. Legacy technology systems, methods and policies are not equipped to support mobile and social platforms, and upgrading these systems is an enormous and expensive undertaking.
  2. While customers may see social and mobile banking as a no-brainer, it’s fair to say they may not realize that working with third-party systems and platforms opens up a can of worms around privacy and data security.

Look no further than the grand-scale hacking attack against JPMorgan Chase in early October 2014 for evidence that talented hackers are waiting in the wings to exploit intrepid institutions at every turn. Experimental endeavors in social and mobile media are low-hanging fruit for these cyber criminals, so it’s no surprise banks haven’t charged ahead into the digital domain as vigorously as customers might prefer.

While this report offers an intriguing, and perhaps troubling, global picture of retail banking, enterprises should still focus on the voice of their own customers, as measured by current and thorough data, to drive decisions around customer experience management.

As you look ahead to 2015 this quarter, consider tapping CSP’s resources and expertise to guide your strategy. We are passionate about improving the customer experience by turning data into plans for action to drive results. Contact us to learn more.

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.