Technology, Humans and Customer Service

Technology, Humans and Customer Service
This is a story about bad customer service and lessons it holds for financial services firms. At the risk of disclosing more than anyone might want to know about my personal finances, my last round of home refinancing brought me to Charles Schwab, where I took out a conforming first mortgage and a HELOC.  Schwab then sold the servicing rights to Quicken Loans, who styles itself as the “Home Loan Provider of Charles Schwab Bank.” There were the not-unexpected glitches during the handoff, and my excellent local Schwab rep ended up giving me a customer service credit.  Thinks got bad, though, when I attempted to pay down some extra principal on the HELOC in August.  First, Quicken Loans credited it to the main mortgage. I didn’t notice for a couple of months (since I pay by autodraft, a point that becomes important later on in this story), and when I did, in October, the Quicken Loan CSR was very nice and said that they’d take care of crediting it to the proper account, the HELOC, right away.  You’d think that I’d pay attention, but she seemed so competent, and I was on the road so much, that I blithely assumed everything was fine. So one November day I happen to be working from home and notice Quicken pop up on the caller ID. Uncharacteristically, I answer the phone. A Quicken Loans CSR starts reading stiltedly from a script, informing me that I’m delinquent and asking when I’m going to pay my mortgage (the next day I got a half-inch thick nasty-gram telling me that my mortgage payment was 64 days past due and my loan was in default)! I realize what’s happened and not-so patiently explain that I’m on auto-draft, this is their mixup, it’s outrageous, etc.  I ask to speak to a supervisor. The CSR declines to put me through, but confirms that I’m on auto-draft and asks to call me back. She does, ten minutes later, and tells me that everything is resolved.  But that’s not the end of the story. The nasty-gram: Quicken Loans     Over the course of the next two weeks I receive three more calls asking why I haven’t paid.  I ask each CSR to read the notes and get this resolved.  Finally a “team leader” calls and assures me that everything would be squared away; she was apologetic and accepted blame – it was unfortunate it took so long to get someone who could do that.  As of this writing things appear to be back to normal, although I’m checking my statements much more assiduously now. So what has this cost Quicken? I asked for compensation; they credited me $250 and wrote a non-form letter stating this wasn’t my fault and hasn’t been reported to credit agencies.  My Schwab rep, who I called to let know what was happening, was mortified and spent time working the situation from his end.  He also credited me an unsolicited customer service gesture. So what are the lessons for an FSI?
  1. Have your CSRs do more than simply read dumbly from a script.  Train and empower them to look beyond what the system generates.
  2. Teach the CSRs to read the notes that their colleagues have left.  Better yet, assign one consistent rep to potential problem cases – it may be more efficient in the long run than passing a case among different people.
  3. Accept blame when it’s warranted – it goes a long way toward making your customers feel better.  At the end of the day, person-to-person interactions go much better when they’re between people, rather than a script on one side and a person on the other.

Mobile Chat – Passing Fad or Key Capability?

Mobile Chat – Passing Fad or Key Capability?
Earlier this week, RBS launched a mobile chat feature, available to its business mobile banking users.  RBS isn’t the only one jumping onto the mobile chat bandwagon – San Diego County Credit Union announced a similar offering . The concept is pretty straightforward, and is similar to the online chat tools that some banks have incorporated into their web sites and/or online banking. I’m a big fan of online chat tools, though many banks I speak to have mixed feelings about them.  The launch of mobile chat capability raises a few pertinent questions:
  • Will users take to texting with their bank? Mobile chat is quite similar to texting with a bank representative. It’s a familiar experience to most mobile users and therefore could catch on. On the other hand, mobile banking is very much about quickly taking care of banking activities. Users get in, do what they need to do, and then get out. I question if mobile chat falls into the category of quick activities. Mobile chat on a tablet is an entirely different story, as the experience and activity type is similar to classic online banking.
  • Will text chat evolve to video chat? I have heard rumblings about this at a couple of banks, and I think it’s a great idea for specific markets where high touch service is required. Wealth management and business banking are great examples. It’s not a perfect solution as often customers in these segments often have dedicated representatives, and they can’t be available by video chat 24×7!
The larger question is, how can banks most effectively service their customers across channels? What is the most efficient way to service the growing number of mobile users in a multichannel environment? Chat is but a piece of the puzzle. Banks have to effectively service customers across channels, and bank representatives require a full record of all past interactions. For example, branch staff should be able to effectively service a customer, if  the customer originally initiated a mobile chat session and subsequently walks into a branch. What are your thoughts on mobile chat? Is it a passing fad or a key mobile capability?

I’m Sorry Mr. Customer, I Have No Idea Who You Are!

I’m Sorry Mr. Customer, I Have No Idea Who You Are!
I just returned from a rare visit to my bank branch. As I was waiting in line, the man in front of me was in the process of screaming at the teller. He was furious that the teller had requested he provide his birthdate and mailing address information prior to handing him cash. She politely explained that her request was for security purposes and that she was doing this for his own protection. The man was insulted, disgusted that the bank employee did not recognize him. He was quite blunt with her saying, “I am in here every second day, don’t you know who I am by now?” Was the customer’s reaction uncalled for, or was the bank employee in the wrong for not recognizing the customer? How could this interaction have been improved? Please share your thoughts.