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The Change Designs Blog is a collection of insights, personal stories and real life experiences from people working in organizations. In this blog you will find real life stories depicting magical experiences and struggles, where the truth is richer, stranger and more practical than any theory or model. If you've ever wanted to read the diary of a leader, strategist, change agent, consultant, facilitator or a coach, or you are grappling with problems at work, then you will enjoy reading this practical blog.

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Customer satisfaction - in a world of choice.

Ruth Tearle - Thursday, March 19, 2015

I love my bank!

How often do you hear people say "I love my... bank, medical insurer, telecoms company, or insurance company?"


Well, I can say now, that I love my bank. And this is why.

Getting a simple answer to a simple question is simple. All you have to do is either phone or go into a branch. Whatever communication medium you prefer, you will get a motivated and highly skilled employee who will listen to you and answer your question. Completely. Directly. No fuss. No obfuscation.

All it takes is one interaction. One solution. Quick. Effective. Easy. Isn’t that the definition of customer satisfaction?

One interaction.

One solution.

Isn't that the definition of customer satisfaction?

Isn’t that what all customer experiences should be like?

Oh - I forgot to mention, they charge 10% of the fees that traditional banks charge.


This bank is not the same bank I’ve been banking with for 20 years.

Companies that forget the customer in "customer centric."

To be customer centric, you have to be able to view your organization from a customer's perspective.
My previous bank had a strategy around being 'customer centric." But while the words sounded good, my experience told a different story. I closed my account at my previous bank 6 months ago and what a relief that was.

No more:

  • Hours spent on phones being passed from one department to another.
  • People telling me that “I am sorry but I can’t help you. This is not my area..." or "This is the bank's policy."
  • Employees treating me like I am stupid, when I query something they have changed that is inconvenient or costly to me - the customer.
  • Staff being unable to explain new policies that cause me to reconsider whether the benefit of doing business with them is worth the extra hassle and cost to me.
  • Dealing with contradictory answers to the same question that I get from from different staff in different departments.
  • Waiting for responses to emails, or employees who promised to get back to me, to do so.
  • Following up – again, again and again – for a period of four to six months, to get them to complete a task that I could do in 5 minutes.
  • Just being nice to a customer doesn't mean you are customer centric. You actually need to provide the customer with value for his time and money.
  • Searching the Internet in vain to find a directors name or email address, so I can communicate with someone who has the power to make a decision.
  • Listening to staff telling me that a job that I can do in 3 minutes flat is extremely complex and that I should be 'patient.'
  • Watching staff use smoke and mirrors to hide their real intentions as they try to collect my data to sell on to other companies.

I guess I am getting tired of:

  • Being part of a company’s strategy to collect and control big data.
  • Being a piece of data they can resell.
  • Being part of a statistic they can show off to their investors.

Especially when I am paying the bill.

I am now reviewing my relationship with many of the traditional companies I have been loyal to for many years. My medical aid and health insurance provider. My insurance company. My newspaper publisher. All the companies I have supported for many years who have long forgotten how a customer fits into their business.

Online companies are changing the rules of customer service

On-line companies are offering better customer service at lower costs.

I have recently started buying products and services from on-line companies. My experience with them has been a revelation.

  • It is easy to find and buy a product or service.
  • When I have a problem, I can quickly and easily notify them via their website or email.
  • They take less than an hour to respond and rectify problems. In any conflict situation such as a mistake that could cost either the customer or the company money, they take the side of the customer. For example, if they have shipped an incorrect product, they immediately apologize and refund the cost of the product plus the cost of shipping.
  • Many of the on-line companies that provide services such as health care, or taxis, are remarkably transparent in their pricing. If I ask the question, "How much will it cost me?" - they can answer the question easily and directly.
  • Simple. Quick. Easy to do business with. These are companies with lower cost structures, lower prices and better service.

Companies have a choice.

Companies can choose to be:

  • Product centric: Companies such as banks often create sophisticated or innovative products. They then design their systems and structures around their products. This works well when a customer only buys one of their products. But if you buy 3 or 4 of their products, and you have a problem that cuts across the different product houses, you will need to become an external project manager. You will need to liaise backwards and forwards between a number of different departments to solve a problem. For a customer outside of the organization, who doesn't have access to the contact details of relevant people inside the organization, solving a simple problem can become a bureaucratic impossibility.

  • Data centric: Companies such as medical administrators often make their money from collecting your data, aggregating it, and then selling this big data onto governments or other large institutions. Many of them make more money from the data they sell, than from the services they provide to their customer. To get their customers to provide them with their personal data, they often use a combination of reward programmes and complexity to hide their true intentions. Should you not provide them with your personal data, they can get quite nasty with you.

  • Customer centric: Many of the large on-line retailers, on-line service providers and new style banks choose to focus on the customer. They use a combination of technology, alliance partners, superb logistical infrastructure, social media and multi-skilled employees to make it easy for you the customer to do business with them. Their motto is something customers will like. Simplicity and providing a great customer experience.

Customers also have a choice.

As more and more companies begin to use technology to offer a better service at a lower cost, customers also have a choice. They can choose to remain loyal to companies that no longer care about them. Or they can choose to break a habit and give their business and their money to companies that are customer centric in their actions rather than their words. It doesn't seem like a difficult choice to make.

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