Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Ross the Boss Wows , Customer Service Officers and being ' Socially useful '

Ross McEwan has taken over the reins from former chief executive Stephen Hester of the Royal Bank of Scotland today.

In an address reported by the BBC to his staff, Mr McEwan said it was ‘ an absolute thrill’ to take on the new role.

“It’s one of those ‘wow’ experiences”

Mr McEwan said that he planned to refocus the bank on customer service, promising to make it the best in the UK. He has previously headed the retail arm of RBS.

“We exit because of the customers we serve and we should never forget that. Our job is to serve our customers. Without our customers we are nothing as a business.”

He also said the bank needed to repay the faith albeit mandated by the Government bailout. UK tax payers still own 81% of RBS after it was bailed out for £45 billion in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.

Mr McEwan stressed that its tax payer funded bailout meant the bank had to live up to a higher standard than any other bank.

“We should never forget that obligation”

Finance firms attracted 20,000 complaints a day in the UK in the first half of 2012 according to the FSA. The compensation bill for miss-sold PPI schemes has been estimated at £10 billion. Which - the consumer group  have warned that the compensation bill could climb even higher.

PPI was not the only issue though. 

 Lloyds Bank Group remained the most complained -about financial group as grievances climbed 146% to 860,000 according to the London Evening Standard. But those complaints`were spread across its many different brands .

Lloyds Customer Services Director was quoted by Simon Read in the Evening Standard 27th Sept 2012 :-

" We understand that there is still work to do, but the figures show that  relative to the number of customers  we have fewer complaints than any other bank ( Lloyds has 1.4 complaints per 1000 accounts compared with Santander 5.2%)"

The Standard went on  quoting that  the Nationwide Building Society  with 17,269 complaints about its banking services - had just 0.7 complaints per 1000 customers.

The FSA reported that complaints about banking services across the sector  rose 5% although only 47% were upheld well below the average.

However one analyses this data , Customer Service is a critical topic for the financial sector at the moment.

Indeed  the then RBS boss Stephen Hester  summarised the situation

" Banks have simply not been good enough servants of their customers in the recent past. We have to address the root cause of the industry's failing"
Similarly Barclay's Chief Executive Anthony Jenkins

" I do believe that Barclays has a significant job to rebuild trust - but I'm also confident that we can.It goes back to what we do: if we serve customers and clients in a way that is socially useful, then we will rebuild that trust."

"I'm on record as saying that the industry and to some extent Barclays did lose sight of the customer and it's our job to put the customer back at the centre of everything that we do"

Individual Complaints to banks
In a somewhat cynical piece by  the Economist's  Schumpeter column  The Magic of Customer service it commented on  the rise of Chief Customer Officers. Schumpeter implied that customer service will not immediately improve because a flashy new member has joined the C suite. This is fair enough.
Yet some of the best firm’s for customer service have such a role- so one feels that there must be something in it.

Various titles given to the assistants to the "Chief Customer Officer"
by, netApp, Cisoc and Vanguard
 showing the importance given to Customer Service
A study by Forester research in this area investigated the customer service standards of 160 firms. A third were rated poor" or "very poor". Heath Insurers and cable companies fared worst.

I found this surprising as the USA has a good reputation in customer service in many people's minds.

Trying to focus on the entire “customer experience”, rather than on individual transactions seems a logical approach to companies who rely on process data to track client interaction feedback.
A new book  explains why this is happening.

 In “Outside In”, Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research observe that customers are growing more powerful.

The Internet makes it easier to shop around and share complaints with a wide audience.

Yet poor service persists.

 Manning and Bodine have been asking customers about their experiences with American companies for years.
Powerful, angry customers could spur big changes.
Customers have embraced companies that serve them well, such as Zappos (the on line shoe shop that lets you order, try on and return as many shoes as you like)

Bank of America the Economist says should be terrified that it is near the bottom of the customer-experience index while another bank, USAA, is right at the top.
Having a CCO may help firms that find that technology is disrupting the way they relate to their customers.
The Washington Post  has discovered that it must provide a constant stream of content rather than a single daily edition.
 Language-learning software provider Rosetta Stone , has found that it needs to offer interactive coaching as well.

Both companies have recruited CCOs.
What difference will this make? asks the Economist
Companies have paid lip service to customer service for years, yet still treat customers like poorly.

 Manning and Bodine suggest trying to learn from the few, such as Disney and Apple, that have cracked the customer-service code.

I went on line and took a look at Zappos

Zappos family Core Values
example of Customer Service Culture
 Zappos keeps a " WOW library"  of exemplary recorded calls that its employees can listen to.

I took this from their website ( my highlighting and underlinings)

WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that's above and beyond what's expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver.
We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don't want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.

Whether internally with co-workers or externally with our customers and partners, delivering WOW results in word of mouth. Our philosophy at Zappos is to WOW with service and experience, not with anything that relates directly to monetary compensation (for example, we don't offer blanket discounts or promotions to customers).

We seek to WOW our customers, our co-workers, our vendors, our partners, and in the long run, our investors
Just Consider  Zappos WOW customers service culture compares to the earlier statement  from that UK bank above

 " We understand that there is still work to do, but the figures show that relative to the number of customers we have fewer complaints than any other bank "

I 'googled' for the opposite to WOW - it came up with FLOP !

So let's wow them whether we are the new head of RBS or a workaday sales professional.

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