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The Bank Interactions that Drive Customer Loyalty

Banking customer loyalty is earned interaction by interaction. The customer service, convenience and overall experience must serve to strengthen the bank’s brand reputation and build emotional bonds with consumers over time. For banks, the ultimate message is that consistently high performance is crucial to consumer loyalty.

To give you an idea of what you’re shooting for, a study by Bain and Company found that the loyal customers of banking institutions made 10 positive comments for every negative one. And in a world connected by social media, keeping that positive commentary going is of utmost importance to counter any negative comments that may occur.

When determining where to focus on improving the customer experience, this study finds that routine transactions—those that make up the majority of the customer relationship—such as deposits, withdrawals, and account balance inquiries are merely table stakes that must be simple and streamlined.

The interactions that create those “moments of truth” that build loyalty are the highly personalized interactions, such as applying for a loan, replacing a lost or stolen credit card, or resolving fraudulent account activity. In other words, approximately 10 percent of the interactions customers have with a bank are responsible for sustaining customer relationships strengthened by loyalty. And many of these interactions take place with your contact center agents.

Workflows are designed to handle the routine calls efficiently and effectively. But, when something unusual happens outside of those flows, escalation becomes necessary to gain resolution for the customer.

The Impact of Escalation on Customer Loyalty

The last thing a customer wants to hear during a service call is that they need to be transferred to another agent because the agent they’re speaking with cannot resolve their issue. But, done well, escalation can play a critical role in creating the moments of truth that result in customer advocates

Escalation agents are highly trained experts often selected due to the quality of their interpersonal skills and adeptness at creative problem solving while maintaining the integrity
of processes.

Consider this real-world example:

An escalation agent received a call from a previous customer in a crisis situation who needed to reactivate her card account in order to rent a car to answer a family emergency. She had sworn off credit cards years ago, preferring to use her debit card to avoid spending beyond her means. Unfortunately, she quickly learned that rental car companies require a credit card to complete the transaction.
The woman began calling her previous credit card companies to try to reactivate one of her closed accounts, but was unable to do so fast enough. With desperation building, she called her last option and reached an escalation agent who recognized how upset she has become. He quickly took action to gain permission to reactivate her old account and sent her a new card via overnight mail. Within a couple of hours, the customer’s problem has been solved and she’s on her way to visit her ailing grandmother. Crisis averted; customer regained and delighted.

Beyond regaining a customer, it’s important to remember that the top reason customers recommend banks is service.

Gaining Financial Reward from “Moments of Truth”

Creating moments of truth is one of the most important functions of contact center agents. This not only means having the right tools, training, support, and processes in place, but the right people. As more customers move online to take care of their routine transactions, the capabilities of your customer service agents must evolve to prepare every agent to step into the role of creative problem solving that transforms the loyalty of your customers into advocacy. The 10 percent of your bank’s transactions that can have the most impact on loyalty is the pivotal point for your bank’s ongoing success. It’s also one of the last differentiators available.

This being said, it’s important for banks to look beyond advocacy to the financial rewards that produce a return from its development. Turning detractors into advocates is the easy part, but selling them more products and services to capture a greater share of wallet or substantially reducing the cost-to-serve these customers is proving more elusive. This is where your contact center operations can play a critical role.

To gain financial reward from moments of truth, banks must make a shift to current business models. Begin by assessing the cost to serve different customer segments. Identify the high-value customer segments that show the most promise for up and cross sell. According to Bain & Company research, many banks that analyze their cost-to-serve are discovering that they are spending the most on their lowest-value customers. Quoting from the report, “At one large bank we’ve worked with, branch employees spend an average of 60% of their time on low-value transactions, administration and idle time.”

Creating moments of truth provides a solid opportunity for banks to not only increase loyalty, but to capitalize on financial rewards.