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Banks are an important component of the society as well as the economy. Despite advances in the banking industry that allow remote services, such as Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and mobile banking, more often customers find themselves queuing in banks’ halls. Financial matters are a crucial part of the life of any person. As such, the employee-to-customer interaction that unfolds any time determines client’s satisfaction. One customer will go to a bank intending to take a loan, while another one will want to open an account. Therefore, the type of language and service that will be used by an employee will determine the client’s future interaction with the bank. There should be an understanding that a bank is in place to serve people as well as make profit. With poor customer service, a bank will not make anticipated profits. Therefore, this report discusses ways in which a bank can enhance its customer service and hence attain its goal of profitability.
The report is based on a comparative analysis. It entailed carrying out of research in the bank and outside of the bank as a way of gathering perceptions and insights regarding existing customer service. It also assessed the ways in which, according to the clients, the type of service that was already in place could be improved. Inside the bank, various employees provided their views about the customer service they provided to clients daily. In addition, they identified loopholes and shortfalls and recommended ways for improvement. The customers that were identified in the bank’s hall at the time of the research were also asked to provide their views regarding the level of satisfaction and any recommendations. Outside the bank, the research focused on regulatory bodies and legal entities that directly relate to the banking industry. They provided their views concerning the improvements that could be made and were overlooked by the banks.
The team that was compiling this report also took some time to review the literature that covered issues regarding banking and customer service. The stipulated guidelines of the standard way of handling customers as well as the strategy provided in the literature concerning the continuous improvement of the service were compared with the results obtained from the comparative analysis. The senior management is an important component of the banking industry, because they make decisions and outline policies regarding customer service. They were interviewed to shed light on the policies they had put in place, possible miscalculations as well as ways for customer service improvement.
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Following the various methods of collecting data and consequently analyzing it, various solutions were identified. They include:
- Corporate objectives
When enhancing customer service, the top management is a primary player. In many banking cases, senior managers have been reported to penalize and punish their employees for money loss or poor accounting. However, the main cause of such a problem is the top management’s failure to establish goals and policies that will guide interaction. Therefore, customer service in the banking industry can only be improved through the development of goals and enhanced communication among the employees. Senior managers should provide clear objectives where the key focus should be on the satisfaction of the customer. Moreover, they must also guide the employees on how they can achieve it. In such a way, employees will use the best means they know to make sure that the set corporate goals are achieved.
- Long-term strategies
It is important to note that corporate objectives cannot be achieved without a framework or strategies that will guide workers. From the research carried out for the aim of this report, it is clear that employees follow a particular framework in their work. In a situation where such strategies have not been put in place, the employees act each in his/her own way. Even if the goal is lucid and result-oriented, the failure to have a decent strategy will result in a total failure for the bank. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the senior management to incorporate the views of employees and put in place a framework that will help them to achieve targets. Furthermore, they should communicate both the goals and the strategy across the whole company. Some of the ways to share it can include the use of memos that will be pinned to every office or work desk, e-mails or screensavers on computers that employees will use. The aim is to make employees recollect the goals and strategies every time when they are serving customers.
- Continuous business research
The banking industry is as dynamic as the technological world. Every bank must recognize that the establishment with most attractive customer service will lure in more clients, and that will mean better return. It is, therefore, the mandate of the bank’s marketing department to continuously carry out the business research on the emerging trends in the industry. For example, if other banks are writing appreciation e-mails to their customers after serving them, then it would be wise to incorporate the same activity. The aim is to make the customers feel more appreciated than they would feel while in any other bank. Other issues that a business can identify may include the arrangement of a bank’s waiting room, the language used by the employees, the number of the tellers that will speed up the serving process, the chairs that customers sit on before they are served, and information screens in the bank’s halls that will keep them engaged. Therefore, through business research, a bank will identify gaps in customer service and will be able to make improvements.
- Organizational culture
Organizational culture is a system of shared values that guide employee behavior. A bank that intends to attract the attention of its customers must embrace positive organizational culture. It became clear during the research that small things that many corporations assume are important. A bank should take with high regards as words such “sorry”, “thank you” and “welcome”. Employees should make it a habit of swallowing their ego in front of the customers. They should use simple and attractive words that will leave a lasting impact on the client. When a customer receives an apology for something that has been delayed, he/she will be happy and will want to have many more transactions with that bank. Other issues, such as making calls while still serving the client or scrolling through the phone, will show the lack concern and will make the clients unsatisfied. Additionally, the dress code can be a way to attract customers. Bank’s employees should embrace simple colors, and a black and white outfit can be a good choice.
- Infrastructural development
As a way of improving customer service, a bank should invest in infrastructure that includes computers, large halls, tables and desks. To begin with, customers will be happy if they are served quickly and efficiently. They will feel that their time has not been not wasted and hence will be willing to come back any other time being assured that their plans will not be affected by the time they spend at the bank. A bank can quicken the service it offers by incorporating new technologies. It should engage in the continuous improvement of the systems and computers in use. As new technological devices are discovered very often, they come with better features and improved speed. Therefore, it should be the duty of bank managers to install new technologies in order to boost the speed of customer service. Additionally, they should ensure the privacy of the customers’ details and history of transactions. It will be made possible through the use of strong systems and firewalls. Furthermore, with better networking capabilities, a customer can be served in any branch of the bank without having to be referred to the main office. Therefore, when the best infrastructure is put in place, the process of serving customers is made easier, their time is saved, and general feeling of satisfaction is enhanced.
- Leadership training programs
Customer service enhancement in the banking industry is only possible when employees are regularly and continuously trained. Front-line employees are in direct contact with customers and they implement every customer service agenda. Therefore, a bank should invest in seminars and forums to expose the employees to the new ways of delivering service. Any changes in the system that is being used have to be taught through training. Workers should be educated about the changes in customer demands, etiquette, and existing laws regarding customer relations. Other than learning the content that is explicated during the training programs, participation acts as a motivator for the employees. When they are always involved in routine work, they tend to become bored. However, when training opportunities come up, they will feel rejuvenated by the slightest change. Therefore, the senior management of the bank should engage key stakeholders as well as quality officers into educating staff about the methods they can use to enhance customer service. Such training should be both theoretical and experimental, and the demonstrations should be done.
- A changed perspective on employees
A banking business that will manage to make its employees focus not on profit objectives, but on customer retention, will be able to succeed. As all banks are in place to make profits, they cannot achieve this goal without their employees. Besides, it is employees who will enhance profit-making through customer satisfaction. The bank should, therefore, change the views of its employees. To begin with, employees should be incorporated into the decision-making process. It is only after they have participated in the development of goals that they can feel like a part of them. A person who owns a part of something will work towards its improvement more rigorously compared to the person who does not own anything. The same principle should apply to banking. When the workers are incorporated into the development of a solution to a problem in customer service, they will work towards making this solution effective, because it is their responsibility and they take pride in it.
Consequently, employees are intelligent people who have solutions to pressing problems that banks face every day in their operations. As such, the management should give its employees a chance to make a decision without having to question and consult their seniors when dealing with a customer. Such approach will not only save time, but it will also create a sense of autonomy and capability among the employees. They will be happier to face customers because they will be sure that they have gained the necessary skills through the training and are thus able to make important decisions. Finally, the bank management should hold periodical meetings in which employees as well as the management will be able report their progress regarding customer service improvement and any issues they have faced. It will be a way of monitoring performance and achievement of goals.
- Continuous learning
The managers of banks should encourage employees to embrace the spirit of both continuous improvement and perpetual learning. Therefore, they should ensure that the manner in which they serve their clients today is better than how they have served them previously. In essence, there is no limit to customer service, since technologies and expectations keep changing. As a result, daily improvement that will be guided by the challenges faced will produce the best service. Additionally, there is no banking employee who knows everything. As such, bank managers should encourage their employees to not stress themselves with something that they do not understand at first sight. Instead, they should consult with colleagues while the customer is waiting for service. At this point, they can refer a customer to a person they think is best at handling such a problem. Therefore, continuous learning where employees will learn every time and in every situation will enhance customer service.
In a nutshell, there is no top point for the customer service of banks. There is no level of satisfaction when customers will declare total happiness with the service. It is, therefore, a business of continuous improvements the aim of which is enhancing the previous day’s experience. That will happen when senior leaders in banking recognize that employees are directly involved in customer service. Hence, they should be given freedom to make choices and decisions that are in line with the bank’s goals and objectives.
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