Our reference: Customer Service
Dear Financial Services
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS
I have some important information for you from your customers. Please read the following information carefully.
Your customers no longer wish to be treated as:
1. A policy number
2. A postcode
3. Second in the queue
4. An up-selling opportunity
5. What’s on your screen
6. A sort code and account number
7. A balance
8. An existing claim
9. Your ref
10. A deferred member
From now on, we would like to be treated like human beings.
How your business may be affected
If you are not able to treat us as human beings, we may take our business elsewhere.
What you need to do now
Please make sure you understand how these changes affect you by reading the details below carefully.
Why the change?
Customers are real people on the other end of your phones and screens. You often hear from us when we are at our most vulnerable, when we’ve had an accident, when a loved one dies or when we’re moving house. Instead of treating us as opportunities to meet a sales target, we want you to treat us like people.
We would like to trust you again. We are writing to explain how we think you can regain our trust.
Why don’t we trust you?
We don’t trust you because
● you sell us products we don’t need
● you promise us benefits we’ll never get or are irrelevant to us
● you sell or lose our personal data
● you make us wait on the phone for hours
● you cut us off when we finally get through
● your computers say ‘no’ when we say ‘yes, we want to buy your products’
● your recorded message says ‘have you tried going online?’ when we are ringing because we can’t go online or going online didn’t help
● your staff act like robots
● you send us letters we don’t understand
You waste our time and waste our money.
How can you regain our trust?
You need to understand what we want from you, how you can add value to our lives, and what actually matters to us.
Once you have understood this, you can let your staff be normal people, not robots or puppets, so they can actually help us. Your staff don’t need scripts to be able to listen and respond. They already have these skills – they are human.
You don’t need to incentivise your cashiers or operatives to be nice, you don’t need to pump pleasant aromas into your branches and you don’t need to ask us if there is anything else you can help us with today.
We don’t care if it takes four rings or 14 to answer our call, as long as you can help us when you do answer. We don’t care how well designed your leaflets are if your products are designed to rip us off. We can tell if the only reason cashiers talk to us is so they can tick a box called ‘had conversation with customer’. The look on their faces gives them away. We don’t want to be patronised.
We will trust you when you treat us with respect, as individuals, and give us what we need.
Will this cost you more?
No. It will cost you less.
When you treat us as transactions and categories, you lose the ability to understand our needs. No customer thinks of herself as an outstanding claim or an open case. Instead, we think ‘Why are they asking for this information again?’ or ‘When will I get my Certificate of Deposit?’ We think in our language, on our terms and at our own pace. We are not experts in financial services, but we are experts on our own lives. So instead of focusing on what you need to move on to the next screen, focus on what your customer needs to get on with their life.
The truth is that it’s cheaper to give people what they actually want or need than it is to fob them off or pass them on. The administrative and management cost involved in logging, categorising and parcelling up transactions and sending them around your organisation is huge.
It’s cheaper to keep it simple. Instead of splitting us up into individual transactions, deal with us as we are, as whole human beings.
How do you make the change?
To make the change, you have to first understand how you treat your customers now. Do you treat us with respect? Or do you read to us from a script, send us standard letters and try to sell us things we haven’t asked for? Do your staff act like human beings? Or do you incentivise them to act like robots?
You will only find out the answer to this question by studying with fresh eyes what actually happens, customer by customer, in your own organisation.
Is there an incentive to make the change?
The only incentive is happy customers and an increase in profit.
You can read more articles like this in ‘The Vanguard Periodical: The Vanguard Method in Financial Services’. You can ask for a PDF or a free hard copy.