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Present Customer Value Should Not Drive the Customer Service Experience

Michael Nashold |

Recent interactions between me and two financial services institutions resulted in two distinctly different customer service experiences.

The first was a call to request a new credit card to be sent to me due to an upcoming expiration date and a vacation planned during which the card was going to be my main form of payment.  Let’s stipulate right off that our household use of this credit card is extensive on an annual basis, so the personal touch and gratitude on the part of the CSR during the call was somewhat expected.  Overall, the service representative was knowledgeable of account history, took note of key aspects of our conversation, confirmed each point discussed and in the end assured a new card was to be in my possession before my family departed for vacation…and it was.

The second call was to my everyday banking institution, which at the time I had every reason to believe also managed our mortgage.

To my surprise, I was notified that the mortgage was recently sold to a new servicer and the bank no longer was able to provide any account information.  Sadly, this was the first notice of the change in service I had received and there was little offered beyond a new phone number to try.  While I still had other accounts with this bank, the service representative was more than happy to end the call quickly and move on.

Don’t get me wrong, part of what makes a customer, especially the higher “valued” ones happy is the “concierge” approach to customer service. What I believe should be seen by everyday customers is simply a competent and quality level of customer service.

To that point, an institution should evaluate what inputs are used in determining the service queue beyond the fact of how profitable someone is in the current state.  In many cases beyond my experience, financial institutions fall short when concentrating so earnestly on the short term that they fail to see, and therefore benefit from, the potential lifetime value of a customer.

Yes, there is breakage even within customer service as a few lower valued accounts can be sacrificed to make the super high net worth accounts feel their calls ending with a hug.  While some are trying to hype the more personal and dedicated service they provide (Chase Freedom and Discover It are recent examples, with highly visible above-the-line marketing efforts), the chasm grows wider as the vast majority of customers in the market are handled rather than provided a service.

The time and money spent in a more comprehensive and quality approach to customer service (at all levels) would likely provide a greater return over time, unfortunately short term goals are the nature of the financial industry.

I’d like to go on, but I have another call I have to take from someone super important…

Topics: Payments Strategy

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