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The customer experience at your bank: get the real picture.

What’s the customer experience at your company?

You’re probably too optimistic.

“The Scream”
Edward Munch

in this famous painting at left, by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky, has often been used to illustrate the angst people feel when they are forced to deal with a society incapable of reason (sort of like the way a tax payer feels when dealing with the IRS).

Unfortunately, generally companies put their customers through the same kind of wringer on more than one occasion. The customer experience ought to be one of the best things that happened during the entire week. Too often it degenerates into something far worse.

To improve the customer experience, we suggest you become fanatical about how your customers are treated.

If you’re distracted and not making your customer experience a top priority, bad things can happen to you—fast.

Here’s a customer experience that went horribly wrong:

Bank insisted on thumbprint from armless man

Here’s an example of a real horror story, where Bank of America actually asked the husband of a long standing customer (who did not have arms) for a thumb print to satisfy their customer ID policy.

A clear case where the policy “tail” was permitted to wag the dog. Read about it here.

Sorry to pick on B of A, but the bank has made national news for this kind of gaffe more than once in the past few years—sort of the “gang who can’t shoot straight” kind of thing. So, ask yourself, “Do my employees put customers though this same series of hoops?” A better question, “Do I get angry thinking that this could happen to my customer?” The best question, “Do I even know when this happens to my customer?”

Maybe your company doesn’t aggravate customers to the same extent, but just how good is your customers experience?  Is it possible your customers conclude, based on their experience with your company, that their experience sucked?

Of course you must have policies and procedures. But you should also have employees who are trained to know when to get help with exceptions.  Don’t ever forget that customer perception is what defines their reality. It is the customers’ reality that keeps your lights on.

Being obsessive about a high quality customer experience is just another way of acknowledging that improving customer service is the most important thing you can do for your company.  The. Most. Important. Thing.

Are you a zealot? Are you unwilling to settle for “good enough?”  Then you’re likely building strong customer loyalty. Good for you.  Keep going.