Why Your Technology Upgrades Are Degrading Your Customer Experience

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My mother-in-law’s bank had a planned website upgrade. The intent was to improve the customer experience, drive stronger customer loyalty and make an investment in growing bank deposits.

After nine years of focusing on cost containment and risk reduction, the banking industry has recognized that upgrading technology is mission critical to engaging their customers and growing their asset base. The problem is that many banks, credit unions and other financial institutions don’t recognize that their technology upgrades can degrade the customer experience if front-line employees and all departments aren’t aligned. It did for my mother-in-law so dramatically that she closed her accounts and went to another bank across the street.

The rest of the story.

In a 2016 CSI Banking Priorities Study, community financial institutions plan to “differentiate themselves through excellent customer service as their main tactic for attracting new deposit customers.”

A bank, hospital, insurance company or technology firm can say they will differentiate themselves through excellent customer service until the cows come home, but the success, and yes differentiation, comes partially from the technology and more significantly from the relational aspects of customers who engage directly with employees.

Here’s what I mean.

The technology upgrade at my mother-in-law’s bank changed customers’ passwords. When customers either forgot or lost their new passwords, they got locked out of the system after three tries. That makes sense from a security perspective.

Customers were then asked to call customer service who informed the customer they could not help them. That’s excellent customer service, right? Their access can only be restored over the phone and with the IT department’s help. But help doesn’t come in the form a link to change their password, but rather the promise of a call from the IT department 24 hours later.

Is waiting 24 hours an excellent and differentiated experience? If you need or want access to your accounts before the call comes, your only option is to go into a branch and have them reset your password.

That’s what my mother-in-law did. She drove ten miles and had them reset her password, only to find that from her home computer the reset did not work. This resulted in a second trip to the branch where a second attempt was made to reset the password. Yes, as you might guess, unsuccessfully.

The third trip to the bank was to close her accounts. But to add insult to injury, the same employee who helped her before asked if she now had access to her accounts. When my mother-in-law replied no, and it was time to close her accounts, the employee’s response was “Okay, let’s take care of that for you.”

Was this a technical issue or a relational issue? It was both. The IT department should have never allowed a system to go live that necessitated a customer waiting 24 hours for access.

The branch manager should never allow any employee to express indifference to a customer when they have been in their branch twice for being locked out of their accounts.

This is common sense but not common practice. In my new book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership, I talk about the five promises every leader and organization need to make if they want to differentiate themselves through excellent customer service and attract new customers.

If you don’t have clear and compelling customer promises, and your organization isn’t aligned, your technology upgrades won’t pay off and your profits and performance will decline.

Comments

  1. They should have predicted the problem since the upgrade involved the customer making a change (choosing a new password). They should have made it as painless as possible, and made customer service aware that they would get a rash of calls.

    Better yet, if the password change was due to the new system needing a stronger password, then they should have reached out to customers with weak passwords and walked them through changing them on the old system, before the upgrade.

    • Hugh Blane says:

      Hi Praveen, I couldn’t agree more. This is an example of how IT really stands for initiating termination.

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