Efficiency vs. Sensitivity

By Karen Troubridge

19 October 2015

There are dozens of reasons why customers visit branches, some of which need to be handled quickly, others need to be given more care and attention. For banks and building societies, it’s sometimes a balance of efficiency versus sensitivity.

In our recent webinar ‘Scrutinising Self-Service in Branches’, we discussed the effect of the deployment of self-service machines in high street branches. Using our ‘Moments of Truth’ benchmarking study, we found that Net Promoter Score (NPS) for branch visitors improves where self-service is offered to customers and used. This is the case for every high street branch or building society offering self-service.

That said, it is clearly important that self-service is deployed correctly. Customers can easily feel pushed into using this technology. Paradoxically, queues can actually become longer because of fewer staff behind the counters and more staff walking around in the aim of encouraging people to use self-service.

However, there are benefits to customers and financial organisations themselves. Convenience is created for customers as they have another option to carry out their transaction.  For banks, the unit cost per branch servicing transaction is reduced and staff are released to spend more time explaining other services and profit-generating products.

Yet it’s not always about getting matters resolved quickly for customers. Some in-branch transactions simply need a real person to offer advice.

These experiences are often more sensitive, like making a complaint or notifying the bank of a bereavement.

In addition to the benchmarking programme, a number of our financial clients have asked us to explore these experiences with their customers. They are sensitive areas that require significant care and caution, helping clients learn more about the experience they offer to customers and how they can improve it. But it is rewarding to see how small improvements can make a large difference.

Despite the sensitivity and nature of bereavement services in particular, all banks and building societies assessed in our ‘Moments of Truth’ NPS programme delivered a positive overall NPS outcome ranging from +36 to +3. This touch-point saw one of the strongest improvements in the last six months with some scores improving by 20+ NPS points.

Many customers haven’t been in this situation before and therefore are looking to speak to someone who can guide them through the process, showing sympathy and empathy throughout. This critical factor is citied by most customers as key to their promotion or detraction on the financial provider. So it’s not always about the efficiency of the transaction, but it does still play a role. Those who felt that the process took much longer than they expected gave an average NPS of -72, showing that getting it wrong can have a large detrimental impact.

Efficiency vs. sensitivity – it’s a balancing act but in each case, when transactions and experiences are deployed correctly, banks can deliver an enhanced experience for customers.

BDRC’s Moments of Truth programme runs on a bi-annual basis and assesses customer advocacy of financial providers as a result of one of over 20 customer experiences, including those detailed above. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with me, Karen Troubridge, or my colleague Mark Long.

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