Banker and customer talking at desk

Don’t Waste My Time: Strategies for Banks to Increase Customer Satisfaction

By Melissa Chefec, Business Development Manager

You know it right away when a business provides exceptional customer service. Your problem is resolved quickly, and you feel respected, cared for and understood. The best customer service representatives listen and summarize to make sure they understood you correctly. On the other hand, you know when you are getting poor customer service. Your time is not valued, mistakes are made, and you don’t feel heard. This is true in all industries, including banking. Here are six ways that banks can improve customer service satisfaction.

Pick Up the Phone Faster

There is nothing that screams out poor customer service more than a long wait time on the phone. We’ve all experienced it, and it makes you want to pull out your hair. Banks that carefully monitor their call center performance and manage the speed at which customer service representatives pick up the phone are sure to enhance customer satisfaction. They can also review the automated prompts to help customers find the proper assistance more quickly. Lastly, they can improve the prerecorded message so that it doesn’t keep saying, “We value you as a customer,” while keeping you on hold for an extended period. The message and the service rendered contradict one another, and that is irritating.

Improve Sales Approaches, Branch Operations

Opening a new bank account in a branch or by phone can be time-consuming. Many banks can do better here. Procedures for opening accounts should be reviewed for efficiency. Sales and customer service representatives should be trained to complete such activities quickly, thereby showing respect for the customer’s time. Moreover, bank representatives should be trained to use a consultative and customer-centric approach as opposed to a hard sales style. This will help ensure customers feel valued rather than pressured.

Long wait times in branches, especially when customer traffic is low, is frustrating for customers. It shouldn’t happen that, if you are one of only two customers in a branch, you still have to wait more than 30 minutes to speak with a banker. Banks can enhance in-person and telephone experiences by improving branch and call center operations to minimize wait times and optimize operations.

Customer Communications

Clear and straightforward written communications are also essential for increasing customer service satisfaction. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a communication from a bank that is difficult to understand. Banks should review their communications to ensure they are clear and avoid using complex "bank speak." The goal is to create communications that are straightforward and easy for customers to understand. Providing transparent timelines, such as when to expect a new credit card in the mail or a loan decision, can also enhance the overall experience.

Train Staff

There is no doubt that customers appreciate dealing with knowledgeable staff who can quickly and accurately provide answers and information about the bank's products and services. Consistently investing in staff training and empowering employees to provide prompt and accurate information, without unnecessary delays, goes a long way towards improving the efficiency of customer interactions.

Further Develop and Enhance Digital Banking Channels

Today, more than ever, customers are using digital channels for their banking activities. Improving the navigation and intuitiveness of digital banking platforms is essential to quality customer service. Ensuring digital interfaces are clear and user-friendly can simplify and improve the digital banking experience, making it easier for customers to access information and perform transactions online. Similarly, bank websites should be designed with the customer in mind. Information should be easily accessible, and the search function should be robust in order to help customers locate the information they need quickly and efficiently.

Increase Transparency about Fees

Nobody wants surprises when it comes to their money. Banks should strive for transparency in fee structures, avoiding hidden fees and ensuring customers can easily understand terms and conditions. Clear communication regarding fees helps build trust and reduces the need for customers to decipher fine print.

There are many ways banks can show respect for their customers by improving customer service approaches. Customer service quality remains key to success in the financial services industry. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay with their bank, bring in more of their business, buy more products and services and perhaps even refer a friend or two.

MKP communications inc. is a New-York based marketing communications agency specializing in merger/change communications for the financial services industry.