Experience Matters: 7 Ways to Provide Excellent Customer Service in Banks

woman rating an experience

Think of the last time you took a flight. Chances are, at some point during the flight — probably multiple times, even — a flight attendant or the captain took a moment to say, “We know you have many choices when you fly, so we thank you for choosing our airline.”

For many travelers, this statement is so commonplace that it might not even register anymore. But when you think about it, it’s actually a really profound statement about the importance of customer experience, and a lesson that we can easily apply to customer service in the banking industry.

These days, customers have endless options for who to bank with, whether it’s a large national bank, a local community bank or credit union, or even a digital-only bank. And they’re paying attention to how their bank treats them, too: according to Qualtrics, 69% of customers surveyed listed poor services as the primary reason for leaving their bank, with 56% indicating the bank could have changed their mind if any attempt had been made to salvage the relationship.

So how do you ensure your customers continue to choose you, over and over, when they could “fly” with anyone? Read on for seven key ways to improve customer service in banks.

#1: Gather real-life, real-time customer experience data right from the source.

No one knows what your customers need better than your customers themselves, so don’t be afraid to ask them for their feedback: send out surveys, reach out via phone or email, pay attention to comments on social media — especially complaints. Track it all, study it, and then look for opportunities where you can respond or improve. When your customers notice you implementing changes based on their suggestions, they’ll know you’re listening and that you care about their experience — and that goodwill  can go a long way toward building loyalty and generating repeat business.

#2: Give your employees the tools to be successful.

Your customer service employees are the face of your bank. They’re who your customers will see first, and they’re often the first to field questions, address complaints, and set the tone for interactions customers will have with your institution. So, make sure they have the tools they need to be effective, whether it’s an up-to-date and easily searchable knowledge base, streamlined processes that help them serve customers faster, or something as simple as regular learning sessions to keep skills sharp.

#3: Educate customers on financial literacy.

Learning the basics of money management, the ins and outs of banking, and how to effectively build and use credit are some of the most crucial lessons anyone can learn in life — and yet, the Council for Economic Education found that as of 2020, only 21 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance. Especially for community banks and credit unions, offering financial literacy courses, online materials, and other resources is a great way to build customers’ confidence and skills — and their trust.

#4: Embrace fintech.

It goes without saying that technology isn’t going anywhere, and customers have come to expect better, faster, and safer access to banking tools and technology. So, do what you can to stay up-to-date with digital transformation in banking (in fact, here are some trends worth checking out). Look for ways to automate your processes, use APIs to integrate systems, and convert old data to new formats.

#5: Be a true partner to your small business customers.

To say the past year has been rough on small businesses is a massive understatement. And as they seek to rebuild and bounce back, small business owners are looking for more than just a lender — they’re looking for partners who can act as advisors, help them get creative, and offer trusted information and advice. This is where smaller community banks and credit unions can really shine by building (and building on) relationships with businesses owners in their communities.

#6: Help your customers help themselves.

These days, customers are increasingly self-sufficient and tech-savvy, and self-service is on the rise in the banking industry; in fact, 74% of customers report having used a self-service support portal in the past, and another 81% say they’ve tried to fix a problem on their own before reaching out to a live person. And more than that, we’re sure you know at least one Millennial who treats a ringing phone like it’s made of lava. So, lean into it! Offer a full-featured mobile app, beef up your online learning center, and roll out a chatbot for simple requests — but make sure it’s still just as easy to contact a real person if they need.

#7: Be open to change and trying new things.

The banking industry is constantly growing and changing, and while consistency is important to customer experience, it’s also possible to make innovative changes without pushing away more traditional customers. Just be sure you’re keeping your customer journey top of mind and addressing actual needs rather than innovating for the sake of innovating.

Whether they’re choosing an airline or a mortgage lender, at the end of the day, customers want to feel valued and supported. Customer loyalty starts with excellent customer service, and Accrue is here to help you embrace the financial technology that can make it happen. Reach out to learn more about how digital banking can actually address all customer service improvement areas and better support your staff.